The Bond Pricing Implications of Rating-Based Capital Requirements

Scott Murray and Stanislava Nikolova

This paper demonstrates that rating-based capital requirements, through their impact on insurers’ investment demand, affect corporate bond prices. Consistent with insurers’ low demand for investment-grade (IG) bonds with a rating close to non-investment-grade, these bonds outperform. Consistent with insurers’ high (low) demand for IG bonds with high (low) systematic risk exposure, these bonds underperform (outperform). Insurer demand, measured by insurer holdings, explains most of these pricing effects. We identify rating-based capital requirements as the driver of insurer demand, and thus the pricing effects, by showing that the effects do not exist before these requirements’ implementation in 1993.