13 September 2008

even in the quietest moments

I can't recall reading much other comment on the role of credit ratings agencies - apart from breathless reporting of their "warnings" and "announcements" in the mainstream press - than at Possum and here. The link is, to my recollection, the first questioning in the MSM of their modus operandi, role and impact on things.

So it's kind of reassuring to learn that other people are asking the very simple questions that should have been asked yonks ago. The agencies subscribe - at least in public - to the usual 'neoclassical' (you have to be so careful with labels and descriptions) economics: lower public debt, big surpluses in any circumstances, tiny spending on any program that smells of 'social' and even of supposedly desirable expenditure such as hard infrastructure (very blokey, isn't it?). Yet at the same time as they hold themselves up as 'independent', so that governments can point to them and say to the punters "look, we told you, we have to do what these people say", they fall prey to the usual, inbuilt weakness of the market system: if you pay enough, you can get what you want, although the broader outcomes will be decidedly suboptimal.

Surely their role and influence will have to change as this information becomes more widely understood. Too much to hope for? How would you do it? Yes, start up a competitor, a genuine one. Won't help the punters who want governments to spend, though. Unless you could start a triple bottom line ratings agency? Look, I've discovered a market niche!

Meanwhile, without additional commentary from me,
one person's reflection on 9 September 2001, popularly known as 9/11.

Then before you can move on, you catch the
title and first few lines of his previous post and you just have to read it. AA Gill and co, eat your collective hearts out.


Philip said...

9 September 2001, popularly known as 9/11

Are you sure?

phil said...

Not really.

About Me