Remember all those mortgage-backed securities? S&P rated them all stellar investments.

Now they are reaping the rewards of their downgrade of US sovereign debt. The Justice Department announced an inquiry into the ratings process and any potential conflicts of interest that may arise therein with regard to Standard and Poor’s high ratings of the now infamous mortgage backed securities that brought the world economy to its knees. I have questioned why anyone would listen to S&P, given they thought Lehman Brothers was a great bet back when it was a bankrupt shell. Apparently, people pay these agencies for these ratings as a kind of stamp of approval. The Justice Department is seeking out whether there are any, other than the most obvious ones, conflicts of interest with regard to this process. Additionally, the inscrutable methods employed by S&P will be examined as well as the practicality and utility of these methods with regard to ratings assignation.

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