A multivariate analysis of the determinants of Moody's bank financial strength ratings

Pui Han, Winnie POON, Michael Arthur FIRTH, Hung Gay FUNG

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

58 Citations (Scopus)


In 1995 Moody's Investors Services inaugurated a new rating service, bank financial strength ratings (BFSRs), that assesses the safety and soundness of banks in over 50 countries. Our study sets out to do some preliminary investigations of this new type of credit rating. We develop logistic regression models to help explain or predict BFSRs. Using bank-specific accounting and financial data we are able to correctly classify or predict BFSRs. These fundamental variables cover the dimensions of risk, loan provision ratios, and profitability. Of the three, loan provisions is the most important factor, followed by risk, and then profitability. Country risk ratings do not appear to be significant explanators of BFSRs. We also find that traditional debt ratings accurately classify BFSRs and this raises the question of whether BFSRs add incremental information. The paper also highlights future directions for our research. One such area is to examine how well BFSRs predict banking crises such as the credit problems currently affecting Asia and Latin America.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-283
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of International Financial Markets, Institutions and Money
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 1999


  • Bank financial strength ratings
  • Logistic regression model

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