Two not-for-profit rating providers have formed a strategic alliance which, they claim, will challenge the world’s dominant credit rating agencies (CRAs). Both of the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) – Wikirating and Public Sector Credit Solutions (PSCS) – employ crowdsourcing techniques to improve credit ratings.
Zurich-based Wikirating uses the same technology as Wikipedia to gather and aggregate information and views about credit quality for multiple categories of bonds. PSCS has released an open source software tool that calculates default probabilities for government bonds, along with fully transparent sample models and data sets.
Under the content sharing alliance, Wikirating will include PSCS models and data on its web site. This will provide participants in Wikirating polls with readily available information and analysis as they cast their votes.
“We are excited about being included on the Wikirating portal,” said Marc Joffe, founder of northern California – based PSCS and a former senior director at Moody’s Analytics. “Wikirating achieved a high profile after its launch and has excellent technology that we are anxious to leverage.”
Dorian Crede, founder of Wikirating, added: “The PSCS public sector credit framework is consistent with our objective of injecting mass collaboration technologies into the rating discussion. Because PSCF is open source and all its inputs and outputs are transparent, it is an excellent complement to other methodologies we currently host.”
The partners added that while other not-for-profit credit rating initiatives have been announced, Wikirating and PSCS have both been generating content for several months. Wikirating has computed ratings on over 100 countries using its transparent balanced scorecard methodology, a ratings poll or both. PSCS has issued 13 sovereign and sub-sovereign credit models to date.
In July, PSCS estimated Italy’s 10 year default probability at 2.59% and concluded that investors in Italian sovereign bonds are being richly compensated. The spread between Italian and German rates has narrowed considerably since the report appeared. In October, a think tank study featuring PSCF models concluded that Canadian provinces had substantial long term default risk, sparking comments from Alberta’s premier and the Canadian finance minister.
“While we applaud the efforts of Markus Krall [founder of the projected European Rating Agency Project Company] and Bertelsmann [International Non-profit Credit Rating Agency (INCRA)], we disagree with their view that a ratings foundation will require hundreds of millions of euros in start-up capital,” said Joffe.
Crede concurred, adding, “Mass collaboration technologies such as open source radically reduce the cost of entry into the ratings business.”
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However, a London summit on the industry’s introduction of the technology cautions that testing and acceptance are still at an early stage and firms should proceed with caution.
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