Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Second Department


Reader 1

Ananda Ganguly

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© 2014 Huixian Xie


This paper looks at whether firms’ credit ratings are negatively affected by litigation risk after controlling for known factors that affect credit ratings. The conventional wisdom is that litigation risk and credit ratings have an inverse relationship. However, my hypothesis is that the inverse relationship will not be stable if the model of credit ratings has taken other factors into account. The methodology first constructs a model of litigation risk, and then regress the credit ratings on the measurement of litigation risk. Previous empirical research on litigation risk measurement uses industry proxies as indicators for litigation risk. In this paper, I include firm characteristics and the Beneish M-score (a determinant for earnings manipulation) in addition to the industry proxy to construct an alternative model measuring litigation risk. I find that supplementing the Francis, Philbrick and Schipper (1994a, b; hereafter FPS) industry proxy with measures of firm characteristics improves predictive ability. In the model of credit ratings, I find that the change of litigation risk has a negative correlation with the credit ratings. However, the negative coefficient on the change of litigation risk changes to a positive one after controlling for other variables such as firm size, return on asset, and interest coverage ratio. This finding provides support for the hypothesis that the negative correlation between the credit ratings and litigation risk is not stable. This suggests that credit ratings may not incorporate litigation risk specifically although litigation can lead to firms’ financial damage and reputation crisis. However, the negative coefficient on the change of litigation risk remains unchanged when I control for the year fixed effects. I also find a negative correlation between the year 2007 and credit ratings due to financial crisis. The results are not conclusive given the likely simultaneous determination of litigation risk and credit ratings.

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