Making Credit Ratings Data Publicly Available

Paper by Marc D. Joffe and Frank Partnoy: “In the aftermath of the 2007-08 global financial crisis, regulators and policy makers recognized the importance of making bond ratings publicly available. Although rating agencies have made some dataavailable, obtaining this information in bulk can be difficult or impossible. At some times, the data is costly; at other times, it is simply unavailable. Some rating agencies have provided data only on a subscription basis for tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.

The cost and lack of availability of ratings data are particularly striking given the regulatory requirement that rating agencies publish such data. We describe the relevant Securities and Exchange Commission publication rules and requirements. Unfortunately, the ways in which the major credit rating agencies have responded to these rules have not made data available in an easily accessed or comprehensive way and have instead hindered academic and think-tank research into credit ratings. Financial researchers who lack the funds required to purchase bulk ratings must use a variety of ad hoc methods to obtain rating data or limit their studies of credit ratings.

This brief paper describes our recent initiative to make credit ratings data publicly available. We provide links to a software tool written in Python that crawls credit rating agency websites, downloads the XRBL files, and converts them to Comma Separated Value (CSV) format. We also provide a link to the most recently processed ratings data, separated by agency and asset category, as well as the entire universe of ratings actions, including more than eight million assignments, upgrades, downgrades, and withdrawals…(More)”.