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Sunday, October 18, 2009

McClatchy: "How Moody's sold its ratings"

by Calculated Risk on 10/18/2009 12:21:00 PM

Kevin Hall at McClatchy Newspapers writes: How Moody's sold its ratings -- and sold out investors (ht Atrios)

A McClatchy investigation has found that Moody's punished executives who questioned why the company was risking its reputation by putting its profits ahead of providing trustworthy ratings for investment offerings.

Instead, Moody's promoted executives who headed its "structured finance" division, which assisted Wall Street in packaging loans into securities for sale to investors. It also stacked its compliance department with the people who awarded the highest ratings to pools of mortgages that soon were downgraded to junk.
How can securities be rated AAA one day, and junk the next?

The rating agencies pocketed the fees, and investors (including the Fed) still use their ratings. As Atrios jokes: "Not sure there have been negative consequence for them, so call it a win!"