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Sovereign credit news and disagreement in expectations about the exchange rate: evidence from Brazil

Diego Silveira Pacheco de Oliveira and Gabriel Caldas Montes

Journal of Economic Studies, 2020, vol. 48, issue 3, 660-698

Abstract: Purpose - Credit rating agencies (CRAs) are perceived as highly influential in the financial system since their announcements can affect several players in the financial markets, from big private financial and non-financial companies and their financial markets experts to sovereign states. In this sense, this study investigates whether sovereign credit news issued by CRAs (measured by comprehensive credit rating (CCR) variables) affect the uncertainties about the exchange rate in the future (captured by the disagreement about exchange rate expectations). The study is relevant once there is evidence indicating that CRAs' assessments are responsible for affecting international capital flows and, thus, sovereign rating changes can affect the expectations formation process regarding the exchange rate. In addition, there is evidence indicating that the disagreement about exchange rate expectations affects the disagreement about inflation expectations, which brings consequences to policymakers. Design/methodology/approach - The dependent variables are the disagreement in expectations about the Brazilian exchange rate for different forecast horizons, 12, 24 and 36 months ahead and the first principal component of theses series. On the other hand, the CCR variables are built upon the long-term foreign-currency Brazilian bonds ratings, outlooks and credit watches provided by the main CRAs. Estimates are obtained using ordinary least squares (OLS) and generalized method of moments (GMM); a dynamic analysis is performed using vector-autoregressive (VAR) through impulse-response functions. Findings - Negative (positive) sovereign credit news, given by a rating downgrade (upgrade) and/or a negative (positive) outlook/watch status, increase (decrease) the disagreement about exchange rate expectations. This result holds for all disagreement and CCR variables. Practical implications - The study brings practical implications to both private agents (mainly financial market experts) and policymakers. An important practical implication of the study concerns the ability of CRAs to affect the expectations formation process of financial market experts regarding the future behavior of the exchange rate. When a CRA issues a signal of improvement in a country's sovereign rating, this signal reflects the perception of improvement in macroeconomic fundamentals and reduction of uncertainties about the country's ability to honor its financial obligations, which therefore, facilitates the expectations formation process, causing a reduction in the disagreement about the exchange rate expectations. With respect to the consequences for policymakers, they will have more difficulty in guiding expectations in a country with a worse sovereign risk rating, where agents have difficulties in forming expectations and the disagreement in expectations is greater. Originality/value - The study is the first to analyze the impact of CRAs' announcements on the disagreement about exchange rate expectations. Moreover, it connects the literature that investigates the effects of sovereign credit news on the economy with the literature that examines the main determinants of disagreement in expectations about macroeconomic variables.

Keywords: Sovereign credit rating; Disagreement in expectations; Exchange rate; E44; F34; F37; G24 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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