In a hearing today before the House Oversight Committee, the credit rating agencies are being portrayed as profit-hungry institutions that would give any deal their blessing for the right price.
Case in point: this instant message exchange between two unidentified Standard & Poor's officials about a mortgage-backed security deal on 4/5/2007:
Official #1: Btw (by the way) that deal is ridiculous.
Official #2: I know right...model def (definitely) does not capture half the risk.
Official #1: We should not be rating it.
Official #2: We rate every deal. It could be structured by cows and we would rate it.
A former executive of Moody's says conflicts of interest got in the way of rating agencies properly valuing mortgage backed securities.
Former Managing Director Jerome Fons, who worked at Moody's until August of 2007, says Moody's was focused on "maxmizing revenues," leading it to make the firm more "issuer friendly."