Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Lets play the ratings game!

Now that the Goldman imbroglio threatens the forward economic movement again, it is important that we ask plenty of questions. While Goldman is being sued for acts of negligence, why arent the rating agencies being sued? 93% of sub-prime mortgage was downgraded from AAA to junk status at the beginning of the crisis, yet the agencies get to have immunity. If the rating agencies cannot be sued, why was it set up that way? There are solutions going on about how ratings agencies need to change their business model and one of the proposed models looks very much like what the FHA did with how it chose appraisers. The FHA got the lenders to use an independent business to farm out the appraisals, eliminating the bias in choosing a particular appraiser. So, the advocates of this theory now want the SEC to step in and choose one of the appraisers of these securities. One more thing: what were the bond investors like PIMCO doing? Are'nt they supposed to be doing their homework in assessing the fundamentals of their holdings? They too have an army of analysts, you know. Relying on the AAAs issued by the S&Ps of the world only got them shot. Yet, they refuse to complain about the rating agencies.
Taking this a bit further and a thing I have suspected most, are our personal credit rating agencies. I believe this system is rigged as well in favor of the banks. I have looked at some statistics dished out by the personal credit rating agencies and the numbers do not add up. Numbers such as the risk rating and the number of consumers above or below your risk rating do not conform to what we know about what is going on in the economy. Though, we pay for accessing these ratings, the model seems to be skewed in favor of the banks. So, no matter who pays, there seems to be biases built into the credit rating system.
How do you solve this? Can we build a truly efficient, competitive market that cannot be gamed? It is up to us to take control of our finances. Large institutional funds, remember, are just aggregators of your money and then unwisely invest them into so-called AAA rated sub prime securities on the advice of an investment banker, who shorts those holdings at the same time. Wake up investors and ask questions! That truly seems to be the solution to me,
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