Rating Agencies Exposed for Helping to Create 2008 Financial Crisis

By: Monday June 24, 2013 9:00 am

As Wall Street alumni Attorney General Eric Holder and Criminal Division head Lanny Breuer slept, private law firms took Wall Street to court. Through the lawsuits filed we have learned that the rating agencies, Moody’s and S&P, were well aware that what they were rating as extremely safe investments were in reality financial ticking time bombs. From Matt Taibbi:

 

Reaction to the S&P Lawsuit Is Just What You’d Expect

By: Tuesday February 12, 2013 4:48 pm

Big lawsuits are great opportunities to look at the state of mind of reporters, pundits and bloggers. I have posts on the case focused on the facts, the law and what they say about the Department of Justice. Of course, my biases are obvious: I think the DOJ refused to enforce the laws against fraud by Wall Street executives, that the refusal to investigate and enforce the law was a deliberate policy choice by President Obama, and that policy was intentionally put into practice by Attorney General Eric Holder and the head of the DOJ Criminal Division, Lanny Breuer. Others show their biases as well.

Moody’s Follows Other Rating Agencies Into Incoherence About Fiscal Cliff

By: Tuesday September 11, 2012 12:50 pm

Good to know that the credit rating agencies have learned approximately nothing since last year. Then, they initiated a downgrade of the United States, determining that their debt would be a riskier instrument after the debacle of the debt limit deal. Investors responded by pouring money into US Treasuries and dropping the yields at one point to under 1.5% (it’s at around 1.676% today). The markets, then, thoroughly ignored the warnings of the rating agencies, and by extension discredited them. They saw US treasuries as a safe instrument rather than a downgraded one.

So what does Moody’s come out and say today? That the US credit rating depends on fiscal cliff talks:

US Government Backstops Most Derivatives

By: Sunday June 24, 2012 10:40 am

Dimon is right to believe that derivatives are safe for JPMorgan Chase. He has the Fed and the FDIC to backstop him. And it’s really great that you get to backstop the Fed and the FDIC for him and his gambling habit.

The Republican 99:1 Ratio on Deficit Reduction

By: Wednesday November 2, 2011 2:50 pm

Leaks from the Super Committee show how Democrats and Republicans are proposing to meet their debt reduction goals. The Republicans propose a minimum of tax increases versus spending cuts, and even those increases are misleading, since they’re using different baselines.

The Party Line – September 30, 2011: No Will, No Way: Nuclear Problems Persist, But US Fails to Seize Fukushima Moment

By: Friday September 30, 2011 4:55 pm

As September drew to a close, residents of southwest Michigan found themselves taking in a little extra tritium, thanks to their daily habit of breathing. The tritium was courtesy of the 40-year-old Palisades Nuclear Generating Station in Covert Township, which suffered its third “event” (as they are politely called) in less than two months, and was forced to vent an indeterminate amount of radioactive steam.

The reactor at Palisades was forced to scram after an accident caused an electrical arc in a transformer in the DC system that powers “indications and controls“–also known as monitoring devices, meters and safety valves.

While it is nice to see rectors shut themselves down when a vital system goes offline, remember that “turning off” a fission reactor is not like flicking a light switch. Shutting down a reactor is a process, and the faster it is done, the more strain it puts on the reactor and its safety and cooling systems. And even after fission is mitigated, a reactor core generates heat that requires a fully functional cooling system.

Whistleblower Pulls Away Moody’s Mask of Objective Analysis

By: Saturday August 20, 2011 10:00 am

A former senior VP at Moody’s wrote an 80 page letter to federal regulators, blowing the whistle on systemic pressures placed by Moody’s business people on the ostensibly objective analysts. To those who are shocked by this, it helps to remember Econ 101: when you get paid by the people whose bonds you are rating, there’s a lot of incentive to keep the customer satisfied.

But it doesn’t stop there. Michael Hudson of UMKC notes that the perverse incentives of ratings agencies lead them to push against raising taxes to pay for things now. Instead, it’s better financially for the ratings agencies if governments keep taxes down but sell bonds . . . ’cause that’s more business for them.

Amazing what basic economics can teach you about the ratings agencies.

Gang of Six Boosted By Moody’s

By: Wednesday July 20, 2011 8:25 am

As near as I can tell, the only thing the Gang of Six has made more likely is default. It’s essentially the same deal that Eric Cantor and John Boehner rejected because it included tax increases. Maybe the increases are so vague and the abolition of the alternative minimum tax so attractive that this changes the perception among House Republicans, but I’m not sure why we should believe that. This is the group that passed the Cut, Cap and Balance Act yesterday, for a frame of reference. Indeed, John Boehner’s office said the plan “appears to fall short” of House goals.

Moody’s is Right About Eliminating the Debt Ceiling

By: Monday July 18, 2011 8:45 am

If the Republicans were really worried about protecting the private sector from dangerous and unnecessary government uncertainty, they would vote to eliminate this foolish debt ceiling limit altogether.

Government Aid Dissipating, Damaging Economic Performance

By: Monday July 11, 2011 7:45 am

The New York Times hits on a major reason for why the economy has struggled over the past several months. Government assistance has faded, turning the stimulus into anti-stimulus. While extended unemployment benefits will last until the end of the year, other stimulus-era programs to beef up government benefits, 20% of all compensation in the US, are slowly being pulled away, and as a result, consumer spending decreases and businesses see less sales. And it will only get worse.

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