Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 April 2014

A case of madness at the credit rating agencies

One of the most remarkable survivors of the credit crunch has been the credit ratings industry.

Despite getting the banking crisis so spectacularly wrong — toxic CDOs rated as AAA anyone? — Standard & Poor's, Moody's and Fitch were not among the financial institutions which blew up.

Since the credit crisis, governments on both sides of the Atlantic have introduced new regulations with the aim of improving standards at the ratings agencies. Now the European Union may be about to go a step further and create a new European ratings agency.

It sounds like sensible stuff. The suspicion remains, however, that the credit ratings failures we have seen in recent years have been a question of madness not badness. That is, rather than having their judgement clouded by commercial concerns, the people working at these agencies just did not have the competence to make the right calls.