THE Teflon Analyst

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Description: In most times and places, partial responsibility for an enormous economic meltdown like the 2008 subprime mortgage collapse would have had consequences: ritual suicide, heads on pikes, revolution. But Americans are a forgiving people. Four years after investors first began to learn that trillions of dollars' worth of mortgage securities the agencies had stamped investment-grade were actually junk, the three major agencies have not suffered all that much. Compared with most other contributors to the debacle, Moody's Investor's Service, Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor's (S&P), all based in New York, have all emerged with relatively few scars. What made this particularly disastrous in structured finance was that mortgage risk was a very different beast than corporate credit. What they understand about credit is fine for a buy-and-hold investor, says Ann Rutledge, founding principal of New York-based R&R Consulting, a credit analytics firm.
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