What is Moody's Bond Survey

Moody’s Bond Survey was a weekly publication produced by Moody’s Investor Services that reported changes in corporate bond quality ratings for publicly traded companies, listed new debt registrations and provided market commentary. It was also known as "Moody's Credit Survey." Today, Moody’s clients can access the same sort of information that was published in Moody’s Bond Survey through its online database.

BREAKING DOWN Moody's Bond Survey

Moody’s Bond Survey reported all changes in bond rating each week and also covered assets such as preferred equity and commercial paper. Since bond prices, and thus bond yields, are affected by a corporation's bond rating, investors choosing to trade in bonds should pay close attention to any changes in corporate bond ratings affecting their holdings.

History of Moody’s Bond Survey

Moody’s Bond Survey was published by Moody’s Investor Service, one of the most storied names in Wall Street history. The company’s predecessor, John Moody & Company, was founded by its namesake in 1900. That year, Moody published the first edition of Moody's Manual of Industrial and Miscellaneous Securities, and by 1903, his publications were known to investors from coast to coast.

Moody’s company was wiped out following the financial panic of 1907, but he returned in 1909 with Moody's Analyses of Railroad Investments, a more comprehensive publication which included the bond rating system that Moody’s Investor Service is known for today. Moody’s Investor Service was incorporated in 1914, and by 1924 the company rated nearly every bond issued in the U.S. market. The company issued these ratings to clients in Moody’s Bond Survey, which continued publication into the 1990s. Today, investors access Moody’s bond ratings and the company’s other analyses mostly online.

The Role of Bond Ratings in Financial Markets

American investors have made use of third-party ratings systems, like that found in Moody’s Bond Survey, since the late 1800s. Because many investors do not have the time to individually inspect all the pertinent information about a company or the bonds it issues, investors rely on trusted third parties to do due diligence and issue ratings based on a standardized scale.

Ratings agencies like Moody’s, S&P and Fitch have been criticized in recent years for changes in their business models, which these critics argue creates a conflict of interest. Starting in the 1970s, partly as a result of regulation which increased demand by companies to be rated by these credit agencies,  Moody’s, S&P and Fitch began earning more money from the companies they rated, rather than just subscription fees. Critics argue that this has incentivized them to issue less accurate ratings.