The executive at Standard & Poor’s was clear: “This market is a wildly spinning top which is going to end badly.”
That sober assessment of certain mortgage-related investments, delivered to colleagues in a confidential memo in December 2006, is now part of a trove of internal e-mails and documents that have come to light in a federal suit against S&P, the nation’s largest credit ratings agency.
The correspondence, made public in court documents late on Monday, provide a glimpse at the inner workings of an institution that the Justice Department says fraudulently inflated credit ratings, with dire consequences for the entire economy. In a series of e-mails, tensions appeared to be escalating inside S&P as it publicly professed that its ratings were valid, even as the home loans bundled into mortgage-backed securities, or MBS, were failing at accelerating rates.
One comes from an S& P analyst in March 2007 borrowing from the Talking Heads song “Burning Down the House,” creating new lyrics: “Subprime is boi-ling o-ver.
Bringing down the house.” S.& P. said prosecutors cherry-picked e-mails and that it would vigorously defend itself from “these unwarranted claims.”
In another 2007 e-mail, an analyst responds to a question about his new job: “Job’s going great. Aside from the fact that the M.B.S. world is crashing, investors and the media hate us and we’re all running around to save face … no complaints.”
US attorney general, Eric H Holder Jr., unveiled the case on Tuesday, accusing S&P and its parent, the McGraw-Hill Companies, of intentionally propping up ratings of shaky mortgage investments. NYT