AAA ratings, collateralized debt obligations, credit rating, debt, deficit, financial meltdown, junk bond status, mortgage backed securities, Robert Reich, Standard and Poor's, Wall Street
As the extortionists at Standard and Poor’s threaten a credit rating downgrade, not just if the debt ceiling isn’t raised but if the deficit isn’t cut by $4 trillion, Robert Reich points out that if the crooks at S& P had done their effin’ jobs the deficit and debt that they demand be cut wouldn’t be where it is today:
“Who is Standard & Poor’s to tell America how much debt it has to shed in order to keep its credit rating? Standard & Poor’s didn’t exactly distinguish itself prior to Wall Street’s financial meltdown in 2007. Until the eve of the collapse it gave triple-A ratings to some of the Street’s riskiest packages of mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations.”
A practice from which S&P profited handsomely:
“S&P’s net annual revenues from ratings nearly doubled from $517 million in 2002, to $1.16 billion in 2007.”
And what happened to those securities S&P stamped AAA?
“…90% of the subprime-backed mortgage securities S&P and its competitors rated AAA in 2006-2007 – which means they’re as sound as Treasury notes – were later downgraded to junk bond status.”
Back to Reich:
“Standard & Poor’s (along with Moody’s and Fitch) bear much of the responsibility for what happened next. Had they done their job and warned investors how much risk Wall Street was taking on, the housing and debt bubbles wouldn’t have become so large – and their bursts wouldn’t have brought down much of the economy.
Had Standard & Poor’s done its job, you and I and other taxpayers wouldn’t have had to bail out Wall Street; millions of Americans would now be working now instead of collecting unemployment insurance; the government wouldn’t have had to inject the economy with a massive stimulus to save millions of other jobs; and far more tax revenue would now be pouring into the Treasury from individuals and businesses doing better than they are now.
In other words, had Standard & Poor’s done its job, today’s budget deficit would be far smaller.
And where was Standard & Poor’s…during the George W. Bush administration – when W. turned a $5 trillion budget surplus bequeathed to him by Bill Clinton into a gaping deficit? Standard & Poor didn’t object to Bush’s giant tax cuts for the wealthy. Nor did it raise a warning about his huge Medicare drug benefit…or his decision to fight two expensive wars without paying for them.
Add Bush’s spending splurge and his tax cuts to the expenses brought on by Wall Street’s near collapse – and today’s budget deficit would be tiny.
Put another way: If Standard & Poor’s had been doing the job it was supposed to be doing between 2000 and 2008, the federal budget wouldn’t be in a crisis — and Standard & Poor’s wouldn’t be threatening the United States with a downgrade if we didn’t come up with a credible plan for lopping $4 trillion off it.”
So why in the hell is anybody listening to what Standard and Poor’s has to say? If we had a Justice Department that was actually interested in justice, the S&P analysts would be behind bars instead of issuing threats.