Sunday, February 03, 2008

Three is Not Enough

I'm all for personal and corporate responsibility, with regard to investments. If you don't know what you're buying, you shouldn't be buying it. Thus, if you take a loss, you deserve it for getting in over your head.

However, seeing something like this lets you know that the oligarchy of S&P, Moody's and Fitch must be broken. It amazes me that these corporate treasurers would be allowed to keep their jobs. However, I think so many companies are going to end up writing off investments which are backed by RMBS, CMBS and derived structures that they'll all be able to keep their jobs since everyone will be guilty. Lawson or Sun or Ciena or Bristol-Myers -- all of them would end up hiring from the same pool of treasurer candidates who all put their previous firms' cash into these mortgage backed investments which had better yields than Treasuries and "are almost as good as cash".


So really, I don't get why FASB doesn't take responsibility for this issue. We need more credit rating firms than this troika. There needs to be more competition in this market. (Just as there needs to be more competition in the market for auditors; they need to take up that argument as well IMO.) Too many people, at too many levels, have gotten away with "well, it carried a AAA rating from...", and personally, they deserve the losses they are facing for basically doing no research. However, if these 3 companies actually had to earn their keep, instead of it being given to them by Federal government mandate, maybe the ratings would mean something right now and fewer poor schlubs would be staring down losses on the back of such a pathetic excuse.

Hmmm. This topic leads me to another question. Where are the HFs? We know distressed debt is attracting lots of capital these days. I wonder if any funds are slipping into the treasurer's office to negotiate away some of these packages of auction-rate securities, at steep discounts of course? Or at the companies just holding on to them after writing them off (off, not just down) and looking for the recovery? Just curious!

Citadel, anyone?

Until next time...

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