Credit Rating Agencies Took “Bribes” for Higher Ratings

You may have heard how the big ratings agencies – Moody’s, S&P and Fitch – “sold their soul” by rating toxic assets and mismanaged companies much more highly than they should have been rated.

But as the following discussion shows, the ratings agencies effectively took bribes for higher ratings, just like people who knowingly authenticate forged art so that they will earn a higher fee:

[Finance professor Ed] Kane: One has to remember that these are profit-making institutions. Issuers will would pay more money for a good rating than a bad one, and issuers are very clear what kind of ratings they want. This is a straight-forward way to pay bribes without ever violating the law, it appears, and the credit rating organizations do not take formal responsibility for their incompetence or negligence.

[Prolific financial journalist, Brookings Institution scholar, and the author of more than 30 books on financial market issues Martin] Mayer: One of the untold scandals of this country is that our museums are stuffed with fake old masters because the people who authenticated paintings for the Mellons and Morgans of this world were paid a percentage of the price for the authentication. If they said it was no good, they got a few hundred bucks. If they said it was great, they got $100,000. Same story in the credit-rating organizations.

[Former Federal Reserve attorney and economist Walker] Todd: Right. They also drop the ball. I’ve been around failing banks and financial crises since 1974, and the rating agencies have dropped the ball almost every time. They were always at best late to the party.

Mayer: John Heimann [former comptroller of the currency] used to say that the function of the ratings agency is to go on the battlefield after the battle is over and shoot the wounded.

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9 Responses to Credit Rating Agencies Took “Bribes” for Higher Ratings

  1. Anonymous says:

    "Credit Rating Agencies Took "Bribes" […]"Ah… the science of economics comes under the microscope.Next we will read how university econ-professors took bribes too.It's called "human nature". And, yes, everyone's shit stinks. And there's plenty of it too.

  2. Troy Ounce says:

    I had to check this site twice just to make sure I was not on, rating agencies getting more money with a higher rating? If this was normal business in the US for the last 20 years then I am afraid there is no hope for the US as the financial world is guaranteed to evaporate into thin air. Your perception of value is apparently a hoax and a perceived hoax might have some value after all. Who knows?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Distortions, Deceptions and Outright Liesby Martin D. Weiss, Ph.D.April 7, 2008Beware.The greatest threat to your financial future is not the danger you see or the beast you know. It stems from all those realities that you don't see or don't know.This great uncertainty is not your fault. Quite the contrary, I lay the blame squarely on …1. Washington's distortions of its most vital economic data …2. Wall Street's deceptive evaluations of most of your investments, and …3. The outright lies that officials of both Washington and Wall Street tell you on a daily basis to cover their tracks or protect their turf……Read the rest of how the ratings agencies RAPED the American public

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