Selling your soul at Moody's

Rating agency Moody’s employee emails:

Employees at Moody’s Investors Service told executives that issuing dubious creditworthy ratings to mortgage-backed securities made it appear they were incompetent or “sold our soul to the devil for revenue,” according to e-mails obtained by U.S. House investigators.

I love this one:

An e-mail that a S&P employee wrote to a co-worker in 2006, obtained by committee investigators, said, “Let’s hope we are all wealthy and retired by the time this house of cards falters.”

If you’re not sure about the role Moody’s and Standard and Poors played in the debacle, Barry has a good brief rundown:

The proximate cause of the Housing crisis were 1) Ultra-low rates; and 2) Abdication of traditional lending standards, thanks to 3) originators ability to resell mortgages for securitization purposes, and hence, 4) not have to worry about loan defaults.

The credit crisis was caused by 1) the above securitized mortgage paper, that was 2) rated triple AAA by Moody’s and Standard & Poors 3) Which was then “insured” by credit default swaps (CDS) — the unreserved for, shadow insurance products 4) whose exemption was made possible by the Commodities Futures Modernization Act.

That legislation exempted these derivatives from any supervision or regulation. The lack of reserve requirements is why there is now $62 trillion in CDS, many of which will never pay their counter parties the promised insurance.

He has more here, including IM conversations between staff at Standard and Poors.

Rahul Dilip Shah: btw: that deal is ridiculous

Shannon Mooney: I know right … model def does not capture half of the risk

Rahul Dilip Shah: we should not be rating it

Shannon Mooney: we rate every deal

Shannon Mooney: it could be structured by cows and we would rate it