A credit rating is a measure of the credit worthiness of a government, a public entity, or a private corporation. The credit rating is also used as an assessment of the quality of debt instruments issued by any of these organizations.
On August 4, Thursday, US stocks suffered the worst one-day sell-off in two years, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) falling 4.31% and the Nasdaq Composite Index losing 5.08% of its value.
A few hours after US stock markets closed, Philippine stocks followed suit and the benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange Index (PSEi) tumbled 1.4% on Friday, August 5.
My friends and I, together with other investors around the world, were surprised to see such panic and sell-off. A fall is generally expected, given the lingering uncertainty in the US economy partly brought about by the eleventh-hour sealing of the deal regarding the US debt ceiling crisis. But a steep 4%+ decline in the US is unprecedented, considering there were no other major financial news spreading in the market.
Apparently, we were wrong. It looked like several investors already got the leak that credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P) was about to downgrade the United States’ credit rating.
What are Credit Ratings?
Credit Ratings are a measure of the credit worthiness of an organization such as a government or a public or private corporation. It is also an assessment of the quality of debt (loan) instruments issued by these institutions. In layman’s terms, a credit rating is a score that shows the capacity of the borrowing entity to meet its financial obligations to investors.
Who are the major credit rating agencies in the world?
There are several credit rating agencies but the three major players in the world, accounting for at least 90% of the market, are Moody’s, Standard and Poor’s (S&P) and Fitch Ratings. Moody’s and S&P are based in the United States while Fitch Ratings has two headquarters, one in London and another in New York. The “Big Three” issue short-term and long-term ratings of debt papers of governments and companies worldwide and also an outlook on the assessed entity, such as positive, negative or stable.
How are credit ratings useful?