Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10419/122121
Authors: 
Flandreau, Marc
Geisler Mesevage, Gabriel
Year of Publication: 
2014
Series/Report no.: 
Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies Working Paper 11/2014
Abstract: 
This paper provides a new interpretation of the early rise of rating agencies in the United States (initially known as Mercantile Agencies). We explain this American exceptionality through an inductive approach that revisits the conventional parallel with the UK. In contrast with earlier narratives that have emphasized the role of Common Law and the greater understanding of American judges that would have supported the rise of an ethos of transparency, we argue that Mercantile Agencies prospered as a remedy to deficient bankruptcy law and weak protection of creditor rights in the US. The result was to raise the value of the nation-wide registry of defaulters which the Mercantile Agencies managed. This ensured the AgenciesĀ“ profitability and endowed them with resources to buy their survival in a legal environment that remained stubbornly hostile.
Subjects: 
rating
mercantile agencies
information
credit insurance
comparative economic history
libel
business law
JEL: 
P5
G2
N2
K2
Document Type: 
Working Paper

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