Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Old News at S & P
"In 2004, well before the risks embedded in Wall Street's bets on subprime mortgages became widely known, employees at Standard & Poor's, the credit rating agency, were feeling pressure to expand the business. One employee warned in internal e-mail that the company would lose business if it failed to give high enough ratings to collateralized debt obligations, the investments that later emerged at the heart of the financial crisis. ... In June 2005, and S&P employee warned that tampering 'with criteria to "get the deal" is putting the entire S&P franchise at risk--it's a bad idea. A Senate panel will release 550 pages of exhibits on Friday--including these and other internal messages--at a hearing scrutinizing the role S&P and the ratings agency Moody's Investors Service played in the 2008 financial crisis. The panel, the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, released excerpts of the messages Thursday. ... The investigation, which began in November 2008, found that S&P and Moody's used inaccurate ratings models in 2004-7 that failed to predict how high-risk residential mortgages would perform; allowed competitive pressures to affect their ratings; and failed to reassess past ratings after improving their models in 2006. ... A sweeping financial overhaul being debated in the Senate would subject the credit rating agencies to comprehensive regulation and examination by the [SEC] for the first time. The legislation also contains provisions that would open the agencies to private lawsuits charging securities fraud, giving investors a chance to hold the companies accountable", Sewell Chan at the NYT, 23 April 2010, link:
The SEC will be as effective in regulating the rating agencies as it has the CPA industry. What's the problem? How do CPA firms operate?