It’s a little too early to really tell what is going on here, but it certainly looks suspicious to me that a week after the rating agency Standard & Poor’s downgraded the U.S. government, we now have the Securities and Exchange Commission starting an insider-trading investigation of who inside S&P worked on the downgrade. This comes on top of an announced Senate probe into S&P’s decision.
I’ve long argued for reducing the role and influence of the rating agencies when it comes to financial regulation. One of the few things the Dodd-Frank Act got correct was pushing for a reduction in regulators’ reliance on the rating agencies. But still, it is nothing short of hypocritical for the same parties who complained that the agencies were too late on mortgages to complain they are too early when it comes to the federal government.
The decisions by the other two major ratings agencies, Fitch and Moody’s, to not downgrade U.S. debt was just as important as S&P’s decision. Are they going to be investigated too? My bet is not. You really have to wonder what our country has come to when you cannot speak an obvious truth without getting investigated by the government. So much for free speech.