Credit score agencies triggered economic crisis, u.s. congressional report finds

April 13, 2011 11:36:28 PM

By Rachelle Younglai and Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Moody’s Corp and Standard and Poor’s triggered the worst economic crisis in decades once they were made to downgrade the inflated ratings they slapped on complex mortgage-backed securities, a U.S. congressional report concluded on Wednesday.

Within the most stark condemnations from the credit score agencies, a Senate investigations panel stated the companies ongoing to provide top ratings to mortgage-backed securities several weeks following the housing industry began to break down.

The companies then unleashed around the economic climate a ton of downgrades in This summer 2007, the panel stated.

“Perhaps greater than every other single event, the sudden mass downgrades of (residential mortgage-backed securities) and (collateralized debt obligation) ratings were the immediate trigger for that economic crisis,” employees for Senators Carl Levin and Tom Coburn authored within their report.

The findings come following the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations spent 2 yrs poring over numerous documents and holding proceedings on what causes the crisis. The probe only centered on the 2 largest rating agencies it didn’t study Fitch Ratings.

The report requires radical reforms towards the industry which are approved in last year’s Dodd-Frank financial reform law, but might not be recognized.

Dodd-Frank did little to alter what some have to say is an natural conflict of great interest in credit raters’ business design, where the raters are compensated through the companies whose products they rate.

The panel’s recommended reforms include getting the U.S. Registration rank the loan raters, in line with the precision of the ratings.


The Senate panel released internal documents showing how Moody’s and S&P unsuccessful to heed their very own internal warnings concerning the failing mortgage market.

Emails in the year 2006 and early 2007 show employees were conscious of housing industry troubles, prior to the huge downgrades in This summer 2007.

“This is much like watching a hurricane from FL (Florida) upgrading the coast gradually towards us. Unsure when we can get hit entirely or get trounced a little or escape without severe damage …” one S&P worker authored as a result of articles around the mortgage mess.

Senate investigators figured that had Moody’s and S&P heeded their very own warnings, they may have issued more conservative ratings for that securities associated with shoddy mortgages.

“The problem, however, was that neither company were built with a financial incentive to assign tougher credit scores towards the very securities that for a short period elevated their revenues, boosted their stock values, and expanded their executive compensation,” the report stated.

Edward Sweeney, a spokesman for S&P, stated inside a statement on Wednesday the Dodd-Frank Act, along with the business’s own internal reforms, have considerably strengthened the oversight of the profession. He added the 2007 and 2008 downgrades “reflected the unparalleled degeneration in credit quality, but weren’t a contributing factor to it.”

Michael Adler, a spokesman for Moody’s, declined to comment in front of the report’s release.


The SEC continues to be grappling with how you can clamp lower around the conflicts of great interest baked into the so-known as “issuer-paid” model. Congress considered radical reforms for that agencies throughout the drafting from the Dodd-Frank law however in the finish passed a sweeping financial regulation bill without one.

Wednesday’s report includes emails from employees at both firms that illustrate pressure that raters received from investment banks.

An August 2006 email reveals the frustration that a minumum of one S&P worker felt concerning the dependence of his employer around the issuers of structured finance products, going to date regarding describe the rating agencies as getting “a type of Stockholm syndrome” — the phenomenon where a captive starts to recognize the captor.

The SEC did find a way to deal with conflicts of great interest at rating agencies previously couple of years.

Even though the Dodd-Frank law directs the SEC to create numerous additional rules for raters, most haven’t yet been suggested.

And something key rule that did get into effect last This summer, submitting credit raters to elevated liability, was suspended after credit raters’ refusal to incorporate their ratings for asset-backed securities brought to some freeze within the secondary market.

The reform is not reinstated. (With a lot more reporting by Kim Dixon Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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