Is Stock Index Membership for Sale?
While major stock market indices are followed by large monetary investments, we document that membership decisions for S&P 500 have a nontrivial amount of discretion. We show that firms’ purchases of S&P ratings appear to improve their chance of entering the index (but purchases of Moody’s ratings do not). Furthermore, firms tend to purchase more S&P ratings when there are openings in the index membership. Such a pattern is also confirmed by an event study that explores a rule change on index membership in 2002. Finally, discretionary additions exhibit subsequent deterioration in financial performance relative to rules-based additions.