AFR in the News: What Crisis? Big Ratings Firms Stronger Than Ever (Wall St. Journal)

“The three big ratings firms that played a central role in the last financial crisis never got a downgrade of their own,” the Wall Street Journal’s Timothy Martin points out. “Investors still overwhelmingly rely on Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services, Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings when deciding whether to buy bonds. The three issue more than 95% of global bond ratings, a total virtually unchanged from the pre-2008 period…”

“The resilience of the industry’s largest players was on display again this week as Moody’s, a unit of Moody’s Corp., agreed to a $130 million settlement with a California pension fund,” Martin goes on to report. The pact resolved one of the industry’s last remaining major crisis-related legal headaches and brought the total of fines and settlements to $1.9 billion, a fraction of the amount paid by U.S. banks for missteps during the same period.

“The credit-rating agencies got away so easy, given what they did,’ said Marcus Stanley, policy director at Americans for Financial Reform, a nonpartisan coalition in favor of stronger Wall Street regulation. ‘The happy days are here again. There’s not really been an interruption of the profit flow.'”