S&P mails show panic as mortgage crisis hit

  • Mary Williams Walsh and Ron Nixon, Hindustan Times
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  • Updated: Feb 06, 2013 22:17 IST

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

 

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