FT Story Hammers Moody’s Stock

The stock market has spoken: Moody’s shares are down 14% today in the wake of the ratings scandal uncovered by the FT.

Portfolio did a good job of rounding up the reactions, including a unwisely dismissive piece by the WSJ’s Aaron Lucchetti simply parroting the company line. Weirdly, no one seems to be picking up on what I consider the smoking gun: while the likes of Tanta and Alea and Yves Smith and Andrew Leonard all basically get the story right, none of them mentions the most damning quote of all.

Documents show that three methodological changes were proposed, but only two were adopted. The third was ditched because it “did not help the rating.” Of the two changes which were made, the document states: “the impact of our code issue after those improvements is then reduced.”

Why ignore this clear evidence of Moody’s trying to maximize the rating it was giving to CPDOs? It’s probably because the quote doesn’t appear in the ink-on-newsprint FT story, it only appears in the FT Alphaville blog.

If the quote’s so damning, why wasn’t it included in the newspaper story? My gut feeling is: UK libel law. After all, we know that the FT has proved itself to be spineless and craven in such matters in the past, even when it was reporting the truth.

I really wish that the FT would simply release these documents into the public domain, instead of simply reporting what they say, so that we can all see them and judge for ourselves. After making suitable redactions to protect their sources, of course.

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