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By Bartholomew Paudyn (auth.)

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Additional info for Credit Ratings and Sovereign Debt: The Political Economy of Creditworthiness through Risk and Uncertainty

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Material, technical, textual devices), ‘agencements denote socio-technical arrangements when they are considered from the point [of] view of their capacity to act and to give meaning to action’ (Callon and Caliskan 2005: 24–5). Analyzing how the calculative act of sovereign rating enables and exemplifies a ‘socio-technical agencement’ of creditworthiness reveals both its mechanistic non-human (risk) and discretionary human (uncertainty) elements. , default). At the same time, the commonalities which exist between various agencements of creditworthiness – especially between corporates and sovereigns – are rendered visible.

By dissecting the rating methodologies employed by Moody’s (2008a, 2012a) and S&P (2011b), we come to terms with how attempts to calculate a sovereign’s propensity towards fiscal failure by using risk techniques similar to corporates or structured finance are riddled with inconsistencies and misrepresentations of uncertainties as risks. Although measuring fiscal variance through risk calculus fails to account for the uncertainty in framing budgetary relations, it 28 Credit Ratings and Sovereign Debt does provide an appearance of objectivity which helps reinforce the credibility and utility of ratings.

Compared to other financial practices and institutions, such as the banks or the IMF, the cursory political economy analysis that CRAs have received is quite surprising. Yet nowhere, arguably, is this dubious separation, and the ‘referentialist metaphysics’ (Maurer 2002: 18) which it promotes, more visible than in the ratings space. Here the economic is often treated as an unproblematic and incontestable reality. The politics of representation and discursive practices are virtually ignored in favor of normalizing risk Crisis and Control 33 models, which help constitute and reinforce this (fallacious) binary opposition as a natural fact of life.

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