Ratings agencies are, of course, of the villains of the credit crunch. They eagerly handed out triple A ratings to dodgy structured products, like a hippie teacher at a nursery who makes sure everyone gets a gold star.
However, not everyone sees the likes of S&P, Fitch, Moody's et al in quite the same way.
Recently, Barbara Ridpath (who is currently chief executive at the International Centre for Financial Regulation) gave a starkly different picture of life inside a ratings agency. She should know, having spent several years at S&P, most recently as head
of ratings services, EMEA.
In our webcast "Be Afraid or Be Ready", Barbara has this to say: "I am very proud of the time I spent [at S&P]....When I started all the investment bankers were in the due diligence meetings, asking more questions than we were."
However, sometime during her tenure at S&P something changed.
"Somewhere along the line they figured out they'd make more money if they sub-contracted that to the ratings agencies. Because they stopped asking those questions anymore, they stopped looking like the bad guy to their clients anymore."
She even cites Goldmans CEO Lloyd Blankenfeld confirming that the investments banks did indeed shift that responsibility over to the ratings agencies.
Does she let ratings agencies off the hook, or are they still collaborators in the credit party that ran riot over the banking industry?
If you want to hear more from this conversation, you will have to register to view the webcast replay