Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Return of Bob .. Learning how to Recruit

When last we left our Hampton weekend home owning privileged yuppie sweater wearing around the neck rating agency analyst Bob he was trying to justify S&P's downgrade of the U.S. credit rating when we all know the credit rating agencies are taking advantage of the country's financial problems to increase their own political power.

What's Bob up to now let's see :

Recruiting Bob ??? Really??? Really ??? Bullshit

It was the incompetence and corruption by S&P and its peers, Fitch and Moody's, that played a pivotal role in our financial meltdown that cost Americans $3.4 trillion in retirement savings, triggered the Great Recession with its massive business failure and job losses, and consequently caused the explosion of our national debt.  They were all in on it. All of them. They were just a bunch of yes men.

This complicity bred the kind of incompetence that was on full display the day S&P downgraded our government's credit rating in August. Within minutes, Treasury Department analysts identified a $2 trillion dollar error in S&P's calculations. But instead of admitting its error, S&P simply came up with other reasons to justify its downgrade. Why? Well, the rating agencies have an enormous stake in intimidating the federal government. I welcome the news that the Justice Department has launched an investigation into S&P, I imagine it will conclude what a lot of us have long known: S&P made record profits by knowingly handing out sterling credit ratings to complete junk.

Much like a bad sports team they need to clean house and learn how to recruit. I quote a fellow industry colleague when he says

"The rating agencies as a whole kill me. They should be bowing and scraping, begging for forgiveness. They should be operating at a net profit of $0 for the next 10 years while they put all money back into hiring talent, beefing technology, etc. Until they are THE place to work, as in you know smart people are doing really awesome things and getting paid well to do them, then they’re a joke. And, yes, their prices should go up and the market should have to bear the burden. Also, the competition should be who has the tightest ratings (as measured by current and historical results) and most aggressive and innovative forensics, not who gives the lowest price. Choosing between the big 3 rating agencies right now is no different than choosing between Equifax, Experian, or Trans Union for your credit report – do you really even give a thought or care which it is? No differentiation."

"Another analogy I thought of after I’d already pressed send is this: When your you’re in the home buying process and you’re looking for a home inspector, do you ask for the cheapest or do you ask around for a good one? Somebody who is tough, really looks under the “hood” of the house, notes everything about the house to you, good and bad (new roof, old water heater), etc? I guarantee you that guy isn’t the cheapest and isn’t even trying to compete in that space. He’s trying to be the best damn home inspector out there and if you want the cheap guy, then by all means pay him and expect to get what you paid for. Don’t cry 2 years later when the termites he missed eat your basement stairs. There is a market for both, but all the rating agencies did for years was go for cheap, not best. If you want a great inspector for your personal home, shouldn’t you want the very best for 10,000 homes backing your AAA bond?"

This bullshit downgrade and the subsequent debt crisis in Europe led the stock market (Dow) to fall 12% in the last quarter, marking its worst quarterly performance since the first quarter of 2009. Horrible. So maybe it's time the rating agencies get provocative and clean house, take recruiting lesson from softball before this mess gets any worse. Wake up Bob. Wake up

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