Friday, September 4, 2009

Rating Agency's free speech argument challenged successfully

I know this is yesterday's news, but after I posted the video to Massive Attack's - Angle in my little link to Costar's excellent article on Mezz foreclosures, I ended up refocusing my efforts on listening to all the other Massive Attack songs on Youtube. I'm easily distracted.

Regardless, as the WSJ so aptly noted:
Moody's and S&P moved to dismiss the suit on free-speech grounds. The judge said ratings are typically protected from liability and subject to an actual malice exception because their ratings are considered matters of public concern. "However, where a rating agency has disseminated their ratings to a select group of investors rather than to the public at large, the rating agency is not afforded the same protection," the judge said.

This has always been their first round of defense when they screwed up a rating and someone lost enough money to sue them, and it looks like it might not work going forward. At the end of the day, their ratings are backward looking at best, and realistically their methods are so poor and inconsistent that they are sloppy at worst, and maybe even criminal. Just by natural selection, any decent analyst at an Agency will get snapped up by a Street side research group. Even the ones that I actually liked were burdened from expressing their opinions by their overlords both inside and outside their own bureaucracies.

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