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Old 10-19-2009, 09:23 AM
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ilbegone ilbegone is offline
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Default Moody's reportedly purged those who warned of trouble

Moody's reportedly purged those who warned of trouble
Quote:
Company disputes allegations in news agency investigation

By Kevin G. Hall
McClatchy Newspapers
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 10.19.2009

WASHINGTON — As the housing market collapsed in late 2007, Moody's Investors Service, whose investment ratings were widely trusted, responded by purging analysts and executives who warned of trouble and promoting those who helped Wall Street plunge the country into its worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

A McClatchy Newspapers 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. Such products have another name now: "toxic assets."

As Congress tackles the broadest proposed overhaul of financial regulation since the 1930s, however, lawmakers still aren't fully aware of what went wrong at the bond rating agencies, and so they may fail to address misaligned incentives such as granting stock options to midlevel employees, which can be an incentive to issue positive ratings rather than honest ones.
The Securities and Exchange Commission issued a blistering report on how profit motives had undermined the integrity of ratings at Moody's and its main competitors, Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor's, in July 2008, but the full extent of Moody's internal strife never has been publicly revealed.
Moody's, which rates McClatchy's debt and assigns it quite low value, disputes every allegation against it.

"Moody's has rigorous standards in place to protect the integrity of ratings from commercial considerations," said Michael Adler, Moody's vice president for corporate communications, in an e-mail response to McClatchy Newspapers.

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