Summary of Regulation, Market Structure, and Role of the Credit Rating Agencies

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Regulation, Market Structure, and Role of the Credit Rating Agencies summary
The major credit rating agencies weren’t the bad guys in the 2008 crisis. Blame the regulators instead.


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Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch emerged as unexpected villains of the housing market collapse. This detailed, enlightening report from the Cato Institute provides a valuable primer on the history of the credit rating agencies and the regulatory scheme they rode to prominence. Emily McClintock Ekins and Mark A. Calabria illuminate the accomplishments and misdeeds of these agencies. Considering the free-market leanings of this think tank, their conclusions are no surprise: Don’t blame the rating agencies, Cato says. Instead, blame the regulators who gave them too much power and too little incentive to innovate. One note: If you don’t align with the Cato Institute’s conservative ideology, you might not find this report convincing. getAbstract suggests it to investors and issuers seeking perspective and insight into the world of rating agencies.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How the credit rating agencies gained power
  • How they went off course
  • What regulatory approach to creating valid ratings would be better


Rating Agencies: From Watchdog to Lapdog?
In the decades leading up to the 2008 financial crisis, the dominant credit rating agencies – Fitch, Standard & Poor’s (S&P), and Moody’s – gained a reputation for financial acumen. The agencies used that reputation to generate consistent...
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About the Authors

Emily McClintock Ekins is a Cato research fellow, a PhD candidate at UCLA and director of polling at Reason Foundation. Mark A. Calabria directs financial regulation studies at the Cato Institute.

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