V. INFLATED CREDIT RATINGS: CASE STUDY OF MOODY's AND STANDARD & POOR's
D. Ratings Deficiencies
The Subcommittee's investigation uncovered a host of factors responsible for the inaccurate credit ratings assigned by Moody's and S&P to RMBS and CDO securities. Those factors include the drive for market share, pressure from investment banks to inflate ratings, inaccurate rating models, and inadequate rating and surveillance resources. In addition, federal regulations that limited certain financial institutions to the purchase of investment grade financial instruments encouraged investment banks and investors to pursue and credit rating agencies to provide those top ratings. All these factors played out against the backdrop of an ongoing conflict of interest that arose from how the credit rating agencies earned their income. If the credit rating agencies had issued ratings that accurately exposed the increasing risk in the RMBS and CDO markets, they may have discouraged investors from purchasing those securities, slowed the pace of securitizations, and as a result reduced their own profits. It was not in the short term economic self-interest of either Moody's or S&P to provide accurate credit risk ratings for high risk RMBS and CDO securities.
The evidence shows that analysts within Moody's and S&P were aware of the increasing risks in the mortgage market in the years leading up to the financial crisis, including higher risk mortgage products, increasingly lax lending standards, poor quality loans, unsustainable housing prices, and increasing mortgage fraud. Yet for years, neither credit rating agency heeded warnings – even their own – about the need to adjust their processes to accurately reflect the increasing credit risk.
Moody's and S&P began issuing public warnings about problems in the mortgage market as early as 2003, yet continued to issue inflated ratings for RMBS and CDO securities before abruptly reversing course in July 2007. Moody's CEO testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, for example, that Moody's had been warning the market continuously since 2003, about the deterioration in lending standards and inflated housing prices.
"Beginning in July 2003, we published warnings about the increased risks we saw and took action to adjust our assumptions for the portions of the residential mortgage backed securities ("RMBS") market that we were asked to rate." |1036|
Both S&P and Moody's published a number of articles indicating the potential for deterioration in RMBS performance. |1037| For example, in September 2005, S&P published a report entitled, "Who Will Be Left Holding the Bag?" The report contained this strong warning:
"It's a question that comes to mind whenever one price increase after another – say, for ridiculously expensive homes – leaves each succeeding buyer out on the end of a longer and longer limb: When the limb finally breaks, who's going to get hurt? In the red-hot U.S. housing market, that's no longer a theoretical riddle. Investors are starting to ask which real estate vehicles carry the most risk – and if mortgage defaults surge, who will end up suffering the most." |1038|
Internal Moody's and S&P emails further demonstrate that senior management and ratings personnel were aware of the deteriorating mortgage market and increasing credit risk. In June 2005, for example, an outside mortgage broker who had seen the head of S&P's RMBS Group, Susan Barnes, on a television program sent her an email warning about the "seeds of destruction" in the financial markets. He noted that no one at the time seemed interested in fixing the looming problems:
"I have contacted the OTS, FDIC and others and my concerns are not addressed. I have been a mortgage broker for the past 13 years and I have never seen such a lack of attention to loan risk. I am confident our present housing bubble is not from supply and demand of housing, but from money supply. In my professional opinion the biggest perpetrator is Washington Mutual. 1) No income documentation loans. 2) Option ARMS (negative amortization) ... 5) 100% financing loans. I have seen instances where WAMU approved buyers for purchase loans; where the fully indexed interest only payments represented 100% of borrower's gross monthly income. We need to stop this madness!!!" |1039|
Several email chains among S&P employees in the Servicer Evaluation Group in Structured Finance demonstrate a clear awareness of mortgage market problems. One from September 2006, for example, with the subject line "Nightmare Mortgages," contains an exchange with startling frankness and foresight. One S&P employee circulated an article on mortgage problems, stating: "Interesting Business Week article on Option ARMs, quoting anecdotes involving some of our favorite servicers." Another responded: "This is frightening. It wreaks of greed, unregulated brokers, and ‘not so prudent' lenders." |1040| Another employee commenting on the same article said: "I'm surprised the OCC and FDIC doesn't come downharder [sic] on these guys - this is like another banking crisis potentially looming!!" |1041|
Another email chain that same month shows that at least some employees understood the significance of problems within the mortgage market nine months before the mass downgrades began. One S&P employee wrote: "I think [a circulated article is] telling us that underwriting fraud; appraisal fraud and the general appetite for new product among originators is resulting in loans being made that shouldn't be made.… [I]f [Eliot] Spitzer [then-New York Attorney General] could prove coercion this could be a RICO offense!" A colleague responded that the head of the S&P Surveillance Group "told me that broken down to loan level what she is seeing in losses is as bad as high 40's – low 50% I'd love to be able to publish a commentary with this data but maybe too much of a powder keg." |1042|
In a third email chain from August 2006, commenting on an article about problems in the mortgage market, a director in the S&P Servicer Evaluation Group wrote: "I'm not surprised; there has been rampant appraisal and underwriting fraud in the industry for quite some time as pressure has mounted to feed the origination machine." |1043| Another S&P director in the same group wrote in an October 2006 internal email about a news article entitled, "More Home Loans Go Sour – Though New Data Show Rising Delinquencies, Lenders Continue to Loosen Mortgage Standards": "Pretty grim news as we suspected – note also the ‘mailing in the keys and walking away' epidemic has begun – I think things are going to get mighty ugly next year!" |1044| Still another S&P email the same month circulated an article entitled, "Home Prices Keep Sliding; Buyers Sit Tight," and remarked: "[J]ust curious...are there ever any positive repo[r]ts on the housing market?" |1045|
An email among several S&P employees a few months later circulated an article entitled, "The Mortgage Mess Spreads" with one person noting ominously: "This is like watching a hurricane from FL [Florida] moving up the coast slowly towards us. Not sure if we will get hit in full or get trounced a bit or escape without severe damage..." |1046|
Government Warnings. At the same time the credit rating agencies were publishing reports and circulating articles internally about the deteriorating mortgage market, several government agencies issued public warnings about lax lending standards and increasing mortgage fraud. A 2004 quarterly report by the FDIC, for example, sounded an alarm over the likelihood of more high risk loan delinquencies:
"[I]t is unlikely that home prices are poised to plunge nationwide, even when mortgage rates rise .... The greater risk to insured institutions is the potential for increased credit delinquencies and losses among highly leveraged, subprime, and ARM borrowers. These high-risk segments of mortgage lending may drive overall mortgage loss rates higher if home prices decline or interest rates rise." |1047|
In 2005, in its 11th Annual Survey on Credit Underwriting Practices, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), which oversees nationally chartered banks, described a significant lowering of retail lending standards, noting it was the first time in the survey's history that a net lowering of retail lending practices had been observed. The OCC wrote:
"Retail lending has undergone a dramatic transformation in recent years as banks have aggressively moved into the retail arena to solidify market positions and gain market share. Higher credit limits and loan-to-value ratios, lower credit scores, lower minimum payments, more revolving debt, less documentation and verification, and lengthening amortizations - have introduced more risk to retail portfolios." |1048|
Starting in 2004, federal law enforcement agencies also issued multiple warnings about fraud in the mortgage marketplace. For example, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) made national headlines when it warned that mortgage fraud had the potential to be a national epidemic, |1049| and issued a 2004 report describing how mortgage fraud was becoming more prevalent. The report noted: "Criminal activity has become more complex and loan frauds are expanding to multitransactional frauds involving groups of people from top management to industry professionals who assist in the loan application process." |1050| The FBI also testified about the problem before Congress:
"The potential impact of mortgage fraud on financial institutions and the stock market is clear. If fraudulent practices become systemic within the mortgage industry and mortgage fraud is allowed to become unrestrained, it will ultimately place financial institutions at risk and have adverse effects on the stock market." |1051|
In 2006, the FBI reported that the number of Suspicious Activity Reports describing mortgage fraud had risen significantly since 2001. |1052|
The FBI's fraud warnings were repeated by industry analysts. The Mortgage Bankers Association's Mortgage Asset Research Institute (MARI), for example, had been reporting increasing fraud in mortgages for years. In April 2007, MARI reported a 30% increase in 2006 in loans with suspected mortgage fraud. The report also noted that while 55% of overall fraud incidents reported to MARI involved loan application fraud, the percentage of subprime loans with loan application fraud was even higher at 65%. |1053|
Press Reports. Warnings in the national press concerning the threat posed by deteriorating mortgages and unsustainable housing prices were also prevalent. A University of Florida website has collected dozens of these articles, many of which were published in 2005. The headlines include: "Fed Debates Pricking the U.S. Housing ‘Bubble'," New York Times, May 31, 2005; "Yale Professor Predicts Housing ‘Bubble' Will Burst," NPR, June 3, 2005; "Cover Story: Bubble Bath of Doom" [warning of overheated real estate market], Washington Post, July 4, 2005; "Housing Affordability Hits 14-Year Low," The Wall Street Journal, December 22, 2005; "Foreclosure Rates Rise Across the U.S.," NPR, May 30, 2006; "For Sale Signs Multiply Across U.S.," The Wall Street Journal, July 20, 2006; and "Housing Gets Ugly," New York Times, August 25, 2006. |1054|
Had Moody's and S&P heeded their own warnings as well as the warnings in government reports and the national press, they might have issued more conservative, including fewer AAA, ratings for RMBS and CDO securities from 2005 to 2007; required additional credit enhancements earlier; and issued ratings downgrades earlier and with greater frequency, gradually letting the air out of the housing bubble instead of puncturing it with the mass downgrades that began in July 2007. The problem, however, was that neither company had a financial incentive to assign tougher credit ratings to the very securities that for a short while increased their revenues, boosted their stock prices, and expanded their executive compensation. Instead, ongoing conflicts of interest, inaccurate credit rating models, and inadequate rating and surveillance resources made it possible for Moody's and S&P to ignore their own warnings about the U.S. mortgage market. In the longer run, these decisions cost both companies dearly. Between January 2007 and January 2009, the stock price for both The McGraw-Hill Companies (S&P's parent company) and Moody's fell nearly 70%, and neither share price has fully recovered.
In transitioning from the fact that the rating agencies issued inaccurate ratings to the question of why they did, one of the primary issues is the conflicts of interest inherent in the "issuer-pays" model. Under this system, the firm interested in profiting from an RMBS or CDO security is required to pay for the credit rating needed to sell the security. Moreover, it requires the credit rating agencies to obtain business from the very companies paying for their rating judgment. The result is a system that creates strong incentives for the rating agencies to inflate their ratings to attract business, and for the issuers and arrangers of the securities to engage in "ratings shopping" to obtain the highest ratings for their financial products.
The conflict of interest inherent in an issuer-pay setup is clear: rating agencies are incentivized to offer the highest ratings, as opposed to offering the most accurate ratings, in order to attract business. It is much like a person trying to sell a home and hiring a third-party appraiser to make sure it is worth the price. Only, with the credit rating agencies, it is the seller who hires the appraiser on behalf of the buyer – the result is a misalignment of interests. This system, currently permitted by the SEC, underlies the "issuers-pay" model.
The credit rating agencies assured Congress and the investing public that they could "manage" these conflicts, but the evidence indicates that the drive for market share and increasing revenues, ratings shopping, and investment bank pressures have undermined the ratings process and the quality of the ratings themselves. Multiple former Moody's and S&P employees told the Subcommittee that, in the years leading up to the financial crisis, gaining market share, increasing revenues, and pleasing investment bankers bringing business to the firm assumed a higher priority than issuing accurate RMBS and CDO credit ratings.
Prior to the explosive growth in revenues generated from the ratings of mortgage backed securities, the credit rating agencies had a reputation for exercising independent judgment and taking pride in requiring the information and performing the analysis needed to issue accurate credit ratings. A journalist captured the rating agency culture in a 1995 article when she wrote: "Ask a [company's] treasurer for his opinion of rating agencies, and he'll probably rank them somewhere between a trip to the dentist and an IRS audit. You can't control them, and you can't escape them." |1055|
But a number of analysts who worked for Moody's during the 1990s and into the new decade told the Subcommittee that a major cultural shift took place at the company around 2000. They told the Subcommittee that, prior to 2000, Moody's was academically oriented and conservative in its issuance of ratings. That changed, according to those interviewed, with the rise of Brian Clarkson who worked at Moody's from 1990 to 2008, and rose from Group Managing Director of the Global Asset Backed Finance Group to President and Chief Operating Officer of Moody's. These employees indicated that during Mr. Clarkson's tenure Moody's began to focus less on striving for accurate credit ratings, and more on increasing market share and "servicing the client," who was identified as the investment banks that brought business to the firm.
This testimonial evidence that increasing revenues gained importance is corroborated by documents obtained by the Subcommittee during the course of its investigation. For example, in a March 2000 email, the head of Moody's Structured Finance Group in Paris wrote that she was leaving the firm, because she was uncomfortable with "the lack of a strategy I can clearly understand, other than maximize the market share and the gross margin with insufficient resources." |1056| A 2002 Moody's survey of the Structured Finance Group (SFG) also documents the shift, finding that most employees who responded to the survey indicated that SFG business objectives included: generating increased revenue; increasing market share; fostering good relationships with issuers and investors; and delivering high quality ratings and research. According to the survey results: "When asked about how business objectives were translated into day-to-day work, most agreed that writing deals was paramount, while writing research and developing new products and services received less emphasis. Most agreed that there was a strong emphasis on relationships with issuers and investment bankers." |1057|
A 2003 email sent by Mr. Clarkson to one of his senior managers about the performance of the Structured Finance Real Estate and Derivatives Group further demonstrates the firm's emphasis on market share. Mr. Clarkson wrote:
"Noel and his team handled the increase and met or exceeded almost every financial and market share objective and goal for his Group. … Through November total revenue for Noel's Group has grown 16% compared with budgeted growth of 10% with CMBS [Commercial Mortgage Backed Securities] up 19% and Derivatives up 14%. This was achieved by taking advantage of increased CMBS issuance volumes and by meeting or slightly exceeding market share objectives for the Group. The Derivatives team has achieved a year to date 96% market share compared to a target share of 95%. This is down approximately 2% from 2002 primarily due to not rating Insurance TRUP CDO's and rating less subordinated tranches. Noel's team is considering whether we need to refine our approach to these securities. The CMBS team was able to meet their target share of 75%. However this was down from 84% market share in 2002 primarily due to competitor's [sic] easing their standards to capture share." |1058|
This performance analysis notes that the team being reviewed put up a strong performance despite competitors "easing their standards to capture [market] share." It also notes that for certain CDOs and "less subordinated tranches," Moody's might "need to refine our approach." The clear emphasis of the analysis is increasing revenues and meeting "market share objectives," and appears silent with regard to issuing accurate ratings.
One former Moody's senior vice president, Mark Froeba, told the Subcommittee that Mr. Clarkson used fear and intimidation tactics to make analysts spend less time on the ratings process and work more cooperatively with investment bankers. |1059| At the Subcommittee
hearing, another former Moody's senior analyst, Richard Michalek, described a meeting that he had with Mr. Clarkson shortly after he was promoted to head of the Structured Finance Group. Mr. Michalek stated:
"In my ‘discussion,' I was told that he [Mr. Clarkson] had met with the investment banks to learn how our Group was working with the various clients and whether there were any analysts who were either particularly difficult or particularly valuable. I was named … as two of the more ‘difficult' analysts who had a reputation for making ‘too many' comments on the deal documentation.
The conversation was quite uncomfortable, and it didn't improve when he described how he had previously had to fire [another analyst], a former leader of the Asset-Backed group who he otherwise considered a ‘good guy.' He described how, because of the numerous complaints he had received about [that analyst's] extreme conservatism, rigidity and insensitivity to client perspective, he was left with no choice. … He then asked me to convince him why he shouldn't fire me. … [T]he primary message of the conversation was plain: further complaints from the ‘customers' would very likely abruptly end my career at Moody's." |1060|
Several former Moody's employees have testified that Moody's employees were fired when they challenged senior management with a more conservative approach to rating RMBS and CDO securities. According to Mr. Froeba:
"[T]he fear was real, not rare and not at all healthy. You began to hear of analysts, even whole groups of analysts, at Moody's who had lost their jobs because they were doing their jobs, identifying risks and describing them accurately." |1061|
A former Managing Director, Eric Kolchinsky, one of the senior managers in charge of the business line which rated subprime backed CDOs at Moody's stated:
"Managers of rating groups were expected by their supervisors and ultimately the Board of Directors of Moody's to build, or at least maintain, market share. It was an unspoken understanding that loss of market share would cause a manager to lose his or her job." |1062|
He described how market share concerns were addressed:
"Senior management would periodically distribute emails detailing their departments' market share. These emails were limited to Managing Directors only. Even if the market share dropped by a few percentage points, managers would be expected to justify ‘missing' the deals which were not rated. Colleagues have described enormous pressure from their superiors when their market share dipped." |1063|
A Moody's email sent in early October 2007 to Managing Directors of the CDO Group illustrates the intense pressure placed on CDO analysts to retain or increase market share, even in the midst of the onset of the financial crisis. |1064| This email reported that for CDOs:
"Market share by deal count [had] dropped to 94%, though by volume it's 97%. It's lower than the 98+% in prior quarters. Any reason for concern, are issuers being more selective to control costs (is Fitch cheaper?) or is it an aberration[?]" |1065|
This email was sent during the same period when Moody's began downgrading CDOs on a daily basis, eventually downgrading almost 1,500 CDO securities with an original value likely in the tens of billions in the last three months of 2007 alone. Despite the internal recognition at Moody's that previously rated CDOs were at substantial risk for downgrades, the email shows management pressing the CDO Managing Directors about losing a few points of market share in the middle of an accelerating ratings disaster.
The drive for market share was similarly emphasized at S&P. One former S&P Managing Director in charge of the RMBS Ratings Group described it as follows:
"By 2004 the structured finance department at S&P was a major source of revenue and profit for the parent company, McGraw-Hill. Focus was directed at collecting market share and revenue data on a monthly basis from the various structured finance rating groups and forwarded to the finance staff at S&P." |1066|
Numerous internal emails illustrate not only S&P's drive to maintain or increase market share, but also how that pressure negatively impacted the ratings process, placing revenue concerns ahead of ratings quality. For example, in a 2004 email, S&P management discussed the possibility of changing its CDO ratings criteria in response to an "ongoing threat of losing deals":
"We are meeting with your group this week to discuss adjusting criteria for rating CDOs of real estate assets this week because of the ongoing threat of losing deals ." |1067|
On another occasion, in response to a 2005 email stating that S&P's ratings model needed to be adjusted to account for the higher risks associated with subprime loans, a director in RMBS research, Frank Parisi, wrote that S&P could have released a different ratings model, LEVELS 6.0, months ago "if we didn't have to massage the sub-prime and Alt - A numbers to preserve market share." |1068| This same director wrote in an email a month later: "Screwing with criteria to ‘get the deal' is putting the entire S&P franchise at risk – it's a bad idea." |1069|
A 2004 email chain among members of the S&P Analytical Policy Board, which set standards to ensure integrity for the ratings process, provides additional evidence of how market share concerns affected the credit ratings process. In that chain of emails, a senior S&P manager, Gale Scott, openly expressed concern about how a criteria change could impact market share and cause S&P to lose business. Ms. Scott wrote: "I am trying to ascertain whether we can determine at this point if we will suffer any loss of business because of our decision and if so, how much? We should have an effective way of measuring the impact of our decision over time." |1070| After a colleague reassured her that he did not believe it would cause a loss of business, she reiterated her concerns, noting, "I think the criteria process must include appropriate testing and feedback from the marketplace."
On another occasion, an August 2006 email reveals the frustration that at least one S&P employee in the Servicer Evaluation Group felt about the dependence of his employer on the issuers of structured finance products, going so far as to describe the rating agencies as having "a kind of Stockholm syndrome" – the phenomenon in which a captive begins to identify with the captor:
"They've become so beholden to their top issuers for revenue they have all developed a kind of Stockholm syndrome which they mistakenly tag as Customer Value creation." |1071|
In October 2007, Moody's Chief Credit Officer explicitly raised concerns at the highest levels of the firm that it was losing market share "[w]ith the loosening of the traditional duopoly" between Moody's and S&P, noting that Fitch was becoming an "acceptable substitute." |1072| In a memorandum entitled, "Credit Policy issues at Moody's suggested by the subprime/liquidity crisis," the author set out to answer the question, "how do rating agencies compete?" |1073| The candid reflection noted that in an ideal situation "ratings quality" would be paramount, but the need to maintain, and even increase, market share, coupled with pressures exerted by the companies seeking credit ratings, were also affecting the quality of its ratings. Moody's Chief Credit Officer wrote the following lament:
"Analysts and MDs [Managing Directors] are continually ‘pitched' by bankers, issuers, investors – all with reasonable arguments – whose views can color credit judgment, sometimes improving it, other times degrading it (we ‘drink the kool-aid'). Coupled with strong internal emphasis on market share & margin focus, this does constitute a ‘risk' to ratings quality." |1074|
By the time his memorandum was written, both Moody's and S&P were already issuing thousands of RMBS and CDO rating downgrades, admitting that their prior investment grade ratings had not accurately reflected the risk that these investments would fail.
At the same time Moody's and S&P were pressuring their RMBS and CDO analysts to increase market share and revenues, the investment banks responsible for bringing RMBS and CDO business to the firms were pressuring those same analysts to ease rating standards. Former Moody's and S&P analysts and managers interviewed by the Subcommittee described, for example, how investment bankers pressured them to get their deals done quickly, increase the size of the tranches that received AAA ratings, and reduce the credit enhancements protecting the AAA tranches from loss. They also pressed the CRA analysts and managers to ignore a host of factors that could be seen as increasing credit risk. Sometimes described as "ratings shopping," the analysts described how some investment bankers threatened to take their business to another credit rating agency if they did not get the favorable treatment they wanted. The evidence collected by the Subcommittee indicates that the pressure exerted by investment banks frequently impacted the ratings process, enabling the banks to obtain more favorable treatment than they otherwise would have received.
The type of blatant pressure exerted by some investment bankers is captured in a 2006 email in which a UBS banker warned an S&P senior manager not to use a new, more conservative rating model for CDOs. He wrote:
"[H]eard you guys are revising your residential mbs [mortgage backed security] rating methodology - getting very punitive on silent seconds. [H]eard your ratings could be 5 notches back of [Moody's] equivalent. [G]onna kill your resi[dential] biz. [M]ay force us to do moodyfitch only cdos!" |1075|
When asked by his colleague about the change in the model, an S&P senior manager, Thomas Warrack, noted that the new model "took a more conservative approach" that would result in "raising our credit support requirements going forward," but Mr. Warrack was also quick to add: "We certainly did [not] intend to do anything to bump us off a significant amount of deals." |1076|
In another instance in May 2007, an S&P analyst reported to her colleagues about attempting to apply a default stress test to a CDO transaction proposed by Lehman Brothers. She wrote:
"[T]hey claim that their competitor investment banks are currently doing loads of deals that are static in the US and where no such stress is applied. … [W]e'd initially calculated some way of coming up with the stresses, by assuming the lowest rated assets default first …. [T]hey claim that once they have priced the whole thing, it is possible that the spreads would change …. We suggested that it was up to them to build up some cushion at the time they price, but they say this will always make their structures uneconomic and is basically unmanageable => I understand that to mean they would not take us on their deals." |1077|
Her supervisor responded in part: "I would recommend we do something. Unless we have too many deals in US where this could hurt."
On still another occasion in 2004, several S&P employees discussed the pressure to make their ratings profitable rather than just accurate, especially when their competitor employed lower rating standards:
"We just lost a huge Mizuho RMBS deal to Moody's due to a huge difference in the required credit support level. It's a deal that six analysts worked through Golden Week so it especially hurts. What we found from the arranger was that our support level was at least 10% higher than Moody's. … Losing one or even several deals due to criteria issues, but this is so significant that it could have an impact in the future deals. There's no way we can get back on this one but we need to address this now in preparation for the future deals." |1078|
Other emails illustrate the difficulty of upgrading the ratings models, because of the potential disruption to securitizations in the process of being rated. Some investment banks applied various types of pressure to maintain the status quo, despite the fact that the newer models were considered more accurate. In a February 2006 email to an S&P analyst, for example, an investment banker from Citigroup wrote:
"I am VERY concerned about this E3 [new CDO rating model]. If our current struc[ture], which we have been marketing to investors … doesn't work under the new assumptions, this will not be good. Happy to comply, if we pass, but will ask for an exception if we fail." |1079|
In another instance from May 2005, an investment banker from Nomura in the middle of finalizing a securitization raised concerns that S&P was not only failing to provide the desired rating, but that a new model could make the situation worse. He wrote:
"My desire is to keep S&P on all of my deals. I would rather not drop S&P from the upcoming deal, particularly if it ends up being for only a single deal until the new model is in place. Can you please review the approval process on this deal?" |1080|
Initially hesitant, S&P analysts ultimately decided to recommend approval of the deal in line with the banker's proposal.
The same pressure was applied to Moody's analysts. In an April 2007 email, for example, a SunTrust Bank employee told Moody's:
"SunTrust is disconcerted by the dramatic increase in Moody's loss coverage levels given initial indications. … Our entire team is extremely concerned. ... Each of the other agencies reduced their initial levels, and the material divergence between Moody's levels and the other agencies seems unreasonable and unwarranted given our superior collateral and minimal tail risk." |1081|
On another occasion in March 2007, a Moody's analyst emailed a colleague about problems she was having with someone at Deutsche Bank after Moody's suggested adjustments to the deal: "[The Deutsche Bank investment banker] is pushing back dearly saying that the deal has been marketed already and that we came back ‘too late' with this discovery .… She claims it's hard for them to change the structure at this point." |1082|
Special Treatment. Documents obtained by the Subcommittee indicate that investment bankers who complained about rating methodologies, criteria, or decisions were often able to obtain exceptions or other favorable treatment. In many instances, the decisions made by the credit rating agencies appeared to cross over from the healthy give and take involved in complex analysis to concessions made to prevent the loss of business. While the former facilitates efficient transactions, the second distorts the market and hurts investors.
In a February 2007 email directed to Moody's, for example, a Chase investment banker complained that a transaction would receive a significantly lower rating than the same product was slated to receive from another rating agency: "There's going to be a three notch difference when we print the deal if it goes out as is. I'm already having agita about the investor calls I'm going to get." Upon conferring with a colleague, the Moody's manager informed the banker that Moody's was able to make some changes after all: "I spoke to Osmin earlier and confirmed that Jason is looking into some adjustments to his [Moody's] methodology that should be a benefit to you folks." |1083|
In another instance, a difference of opinion arose between Moody's and UBS over how to rate a UBS transaction known as Lancer II. One senior Moody's analyst wrote to her colleagues that, given the "time line for closing" the deal, they should side with the investment bank: "I agree that what the [Moody's rating] committee was asking is reasonable, but given the other modeling related issues and the time line for closing, I propose we let them go with the CDS Cp criteria for this deal." |1084|
S&P made similar concessions while rating three deals for Bear Stearns in 2006. An analyst wrote:
"Bear Stearns is currently closing three deals this month which ha[ve] 40 year mortgages (negam) …. There was some discrepancy in that they were giving some more credit to recoveries than we would like to see. … [I]t was agreed that for the deals this month we were OK and they would address this issue for deals going forward." |1085|
While the rating process involved some level of subjective discretion, these electronic communications make it clear that in many cases, close calls were made in favor of the customer.
An exception made one time often turned into further exceptions down the road. In August 2006, for example, an investment banker from Morgan Stanley tried to leverage past exceptions into a new one, couching his request in the context of prior deals:
"When you went from [model] 2.4 to 3.0, there was a period of time where you would rate on either model. I am asking for a similar ‘dual option' window for a short period. I do not think this is unreasonable."
A frustrated S&P manager resisted, saying: "You want this to be a commodity relationship and this is EXACTLY what you get." But even in the midst of his defense, the same S&P manager reminded the banker how often he had granted exceptions in other transactions: "How many times have I accommodated you on tight deals? Neer, Hill, Yoo, Garzia, Nager, May, Miteva, Benson, Erdman all think I am helpful, no?" |1086|
Some rating analysts who granted exceptions to firm policies, and then tried to limit those exceptions in future deals, found it difficult to do. In June 2007, for example, a Moody's analyst agreed to an exception, while warning that no exceptions would be made in future transactions:
"This is an issue we feel strongly about and it is a published Moody's criteria. We are making an exception for this deal only. … Going forward this has to be effective date level. I would urge you to let your colleagues know as well since we will not be in a position to give in on this issue in future deals." |1087|
A similar scenario played out at S&P. A Goldman Sachs banker strongly objected to a rating decision on a CDO called Abacus 2006-12:
"I would add that this scenario is very different from an optional redemption as you point out below since the optional redemption is at Goldman's option and a stated maturity is not. We therefore cannot settle for the most conservative alternative as I believe you are suggesting."
The S&P director pushed back, saying that what Goldman wanted was "a significant departure from our current criteria," but then suggested an exception could be made if it were limited to the CDO at hand and did not apply to future transactions:
"As you point out, it is a conservative position for S&P to take, but it is one we've taken with all Dealers. Since time is of the essence, this may be another issue that we table for 2006-12 [the CDO under consideration], but would have to be addressed in future trades." |1088|
But a Moody's analyst showed how difficult it was to allow an exception once and demand different conduct in the future:
"I am worried that we are not able to give these complicated deals the attention they really deserve, and that they [Credit Suisse] are taking advantage of the ‘light' review and the growing sense of ‘precedent'.
As for the precedential effects, we had indicated that some of the ‘fixes' we agreed to in Qian's deal were ‘for this deal only'… When I asked Roland if they had given further thought to a more robust approach, he said (unsurprisingly) that they had no success and could we please accept the same [stopgap] measure for this deal." |1089|
Linking a Rating to a Fee. On at least one occasion, an investment bank seeking a credit rating attempted to link the ratings it would receive with the amount of fees it would pay. In June 2007, Merrill Lynch was seeking a rating from Moody's for a CDO known as Belden Point. |1090| Moody's agreed to rate the CDO, but only for a higher than usual fee using a "complex CDO fee schedule." |1091| Merrill Lynch responded: "[N]o one here has ever heard or seen this fee structure applied for any deal in the past. Could you point us to a precedent deal where we have approved this?" |1092| Moody's replied:
"[W]e do not view this transaction as a standard CDO transaction and the rating process so far has already shown that the analysis for this deal is far more involved and will continue to be so. We have spent significant amount of resource[s] on this deal and it will be difficult for us to continue with this process if we do not have an agreement on the fee issue." |1093|
The next day, Merrill Lynch wrote:
"We are okay with the revised fee schedule for this transaction. We are agreeing to this under the assumption that this will not be a precedent for any future deals and that you will work with us further on this transaction to try and get to some middle ground with respect to the ratings." |1094|
"We agree that this will not be a precedent for future deals by default and we will discuss with you on a case by case basis if [the] Complex CDO rating application should be applied to future deals. We will certainly continue working with you on this transaction, but analytical discussions/outcomes should be independent of any fee discussions." |1095|
Vertical CDO. A transaction known as Vertical ABS CDO 2007-1 helps illustrate how imbalanced the relationship between investment bankers and rating analysts became. In connection with that CDO, an investment banker from UBS failed to cooperate with S&P rating analysts requesting information to analyze the transaction.
On March 30, 2007, an S&P analyst wrote that UBS wanted to close the deal in ten days, but was not providing the information S&P needed:
"Sarah and I have been working with James Yao from UBS but we have not been getting cooperation from him. He has told me that I am jeopardizing the deal. … This is the third time that he refuses to model the cashflow according to the Indenture and Criteria." |1096|
A few days later, in an April 5, 2007 instant message, one S&P analyst wrote: "[W]hat happened? … [I] heard some fury." His colleague responded that it was Mr. Yao, the UBS banker. |1097| Later the same day, an S&P manager wrote that the three analysts:
"[W]ould like to give us a heads-up with respect to the lack of responsiveness/cooperation from UBS … on Vertical 2007-1. There seems to be a general lack of interest to work WITH us, incorporate our comments, or modeling to our criteria. Based on their collective difficult experience so far, our analysts estimate a smooth closing is unlikely. (The behavior is not limited to this deal either.)" |1098|
An S&P senior director responded:
"Vertical is politically closely tied to B of A – and is mostly a marketing shop – helping to take risk off books of B o A. Don't see why we have to tolerate lack of cooperation. Deals likely not to perform." |1099|
Despite the uncooperative investment banker and prediction that the CDO was unlikely to perform, S&P analysts continued to work hard on the rating. One of the analysts sent an email to her colleagues describing their efforts to get the CDO to pass tests for issuing investment grade ratings:
"Just wanted to let you know that this deal is closing and going Effective next Tuesday, but our rated Equity tranche (BBB) is failing in our cashflow modeling.
"Sarah tried a lot of ways to have the model passed. Unfortunately we are still failing by 1bp [basis point], without any stress runs and without modeling certain fees (anticipated to be minimal).
"In addition, we already incorporated the actual ramped up portfolio, and not a hypothetical one, for this exercise." |1100|
After another day of work, the analyst reported she had found a "mistake" that, when corrected, would allow Vertical to get the desired investment grade credit ratings:
"Just wanted to update you guys on Vertical. The model is passing now. We found a mistake in the waterfall modeling that was more punitive than necessary. James Yao [the UBS investment banker] has been notified and is probably having a chuckle at our expense. I still feel that his attitude toward our rating process and our team still needs to be addressed in some way." |1101|
These emails show S&P analysts expending great effort to provide favorable ratings to the UBS CDO, despite concerns about its creditworthiness. |1102|
On April 10, 2007, just three months before the July 2007 mass downgrades of subprime RMBS, S&P issued ratings for the Vertical securitization. All but one of the nine tranches were given investment grade ratings, with the top three receiving AAA. Moody's issued similar ratings. |1103|
Four months later in August 2007, all but the top three tranches were put on credit watch. |1104| Two months after that, in October, Moody's downgraded all but one of the Vertical securities to junk status. |1105| In 2008, the CDO was liquidated. |1106| The chart below shows how the various tranches were originally rated by S&P, only to be downgraded to a D—the rating given to securities in default.
Vertical ABS CDO 2007-1, Ltd
Vertical ABS CDO 2007-1, Ltd
Vertical ABS CDO 2007-1, Ltd
Vertical ABS CDO 2007-1, Ltd
Vertical ABS CDO 2007-1, Ltd
Vertical ABS CDO 2007-1, Ltd
Vertical ABS CDO 2007-1, Ltd
Vertical ABS CDO 2007-1, Ltd
Vertical ABS CDO 2007-1, Ltd
One of the purchasers of Vertical securities, a hedge fund called Pursuit Partners, sued UBS, S&P, and Moody's over the quick default. Both credit rating agencies filed successful motions to be dismissed from the lawsuit, but the court ordered UBS to set aside $35 million for a possible award to the investor. The investor had found internal UBS emails calling the investment grade Vertical securities "crap." |1107|
Barring Analysts. Rating analysts who insisted on obtaining detailed information about transactions sometimes became unpopular with investment bankers who pressured the analysts' directors to have them barred from rating their deals. One Moody's analyst, Richard Michalek, testified before the Subcommittee that he was prohibited from working on RMBS transactions for several banks because he scrutinized deals too closely. He stated:
"During my tenure at Moody's, I was explicitly told that I was ‘not welcome' on deals structured by certain banks. ... I was told by my then-current managing director in 2001 that I was ‘asked to be replaced' on future deals by … CSFB [Credit Suisse First Boston], and then at Merrill Lynch. Years later, I was told by a different managing director that a CDO team leader at Goldman Sachs also asked, while praising the thoroughness of my work, that after four transactions he would prefer another lawyer be given an opportunity to work on his deals." |1108|
This analyst's claim was corroborated by the Moody's Managing Director who was his superior at the time. |1109|
At the Subcommittee's April 23 hearing, Yuri Yoshizawa, the Senior Managing Director of Moody's Derivatives Group testified that the relationship between CDO analysts and investment banks "could get very contentious and very abusive." |1110| She testified that she did get complaints from investment banks who wanted analysts removed from conducting their ratings, because they were unhappy with those analysts. She testified that "[t]here was always pressure from banks, including [removing analysts from transactions]." |1111| She stated that she did, in fact, remove analysts from rating certain banks' transactions, but claimed she did so to protect the analysts from abuse rather than to appease the complaining bank. |1112| When asked whether she ever protected her analysts by instead banning the abusive bank employee from Moody's interactions, she could not recall taking that action.
Ratings Shopping. It is not surprising that credit rating agencies at times gave into pressure from the investment banks and accorded them undue influence in the ratings process. The rating companies were directly dependent upon investment bankers to bring them business and were vulnerable to threats that the investment bankers would take their business elsewhere if they did not get the ratings they wanted. Moody's Chief Credit Officer told the Subcommittee staff that ratings shopping, the practice in which investment banks chose the credit rating agency offering the highest rating for a proposed transaction, was commonplace prior to 2008. |1113|
Ratings shopping inevitably weakens standards as each credit rating agency seeks to provide the most favorable rating to win business. It is a conflict of interest problem that results in a race to the bottom – with every credit rating agency competing to produce credit ratings to please its paying clients. Moody's CEO described the problem this way: "What happened in '04 and '05 with respect to subordinated tranches is that our competition, Fitch and S&P, went nuts. Everything was investment grade. It didn't really matter." |1114|
All of the witnesses who were questioned about ratings shopping during the Subcommittee's hearing confirmed its existence:
Senator Levin: Ms. Yoshizawa [Senior Managing Director, Moody's Derivatives Group], we were advised by Moody's Chief Credit Officer that it was common knowledge that ratings shopping occurred in structured finance. In other words, investment bankers sought ratings from credit rating agencies who would give them their highest ratings. Would you agree with that?
Ms. Yoshizawa: I agree that credit shopping does exist, yes.
Senator Levin: Ms. Barnes [Managing Director, S&P RMBS Group], would you agree that the same thing existed in your area?
Ms. Barnes: Yes, Mr. Chairman. |1115|
Moody's CEO, Ray McDaniel echoed this concern during the hearing:
Senator Levin: There are a lot of interesting things there that your Chief Credit Officer, Mr. Kimball, wrote in October of 2007 …. One of the things he wrote, and this is under market share, he says in paragraph five, ‘Ideally, competition would be primarily on the basis of ratings quality' – that is ideally – ‘ with a second component of price and a third component of service. Unfortunately, of the three competitive factors, rating quality is proving the least powerful.' … ‘It turns out that ratings quality has surprisingly few friends; issuers want high ratings; investors don't want rating downgrades; short-sighted bankers labor short-sightedly to game the rating agencies for a few extra basis points on execution.' Would you agree with that?
Mr. McDaniel: In this section, he is talking about the issue of rating shopping, and I agree that that existed then and exists now. |1116|
The conflict of interest problem was not the only reason that Moody's and S&P issued inaccurate RMBS and CDO credit ratings. Another problem was that the credit rating models they used were flawed. Over time, from 2004 to 2006, S&P and Moody's revised their rating models, but never enough to produce accurate forecasts of the coming wave of mortgage delinquencies and defaults. Key problems included inadequate performance data for the higher risk mortgages flooding the mortgage markets and inadequate correlation factors.
In addition, the companies failed to provide their ratings personnel with clear, consistent, and comprehensive criteria to evaluate complex structured finance deals. The absence of effective criteria was particularly problematic, because the ratings models did not conclusively determine the ratings for particular transactions. Instead, modeling results could be altered by the subjective judgment of analysts and their supervisors. This subjective factor, while unavoidable due to the complexity and novelty of the transactions being rated, rendered the process vulnerable to improper influence and inflated ratings.
CRA analysts relied on their firm's quantitative rating models to calculate the probable default and loss rates for particular pools of assets. These models were handicapped, however, by a lack of relevant performance data for the high risk residential mortgages supporting most RMBS and CDO securities, by a lack of mortgage performance data in an era of stagnating or declining housing prices, by the credit rating agencies' unwillingness to devote sufficient resources to update their models, and by the failure of the models to incorporate accurate correlation assumptions predicting how defaulting mortgages might affect other mortgages.
Lack of High Risk Mortgage Performance Data. The CRA models failed, in part, because they relied on historical data to predict how RMBS securities would behave, and the models did not use adequate performance data in the development of criteria to rate subprime and other high risk mortgages that proliferated in the housing market in the years leading up to the financial crisis. From 2004 through 2007, many RMBS and CDO securities were comprised of residential mortgages that were not like those that had been modeled in the past. As one S&P email observed:
"[T]he assumptions and the historical data used [in the models] … never included the performance of these types of residential mortgage loans .… The data was gathered and computed during a time when loans with over 100% LTV or no stated income were rare." |1117|
In contrast to decades of actual performance data for 30-year mortgages with fixed interest rates, the new subprime, high risk products had little to no track record to predict their rates of default. In fact, Moody's RMBS rating model was not even used to rate subprime mortgages until December 2006; prior to that time, Moody's used a system of "benchmarking" in which it rated a subprime mortgage pool by comparing it to other subprime pools Moody's had already rated. |1118|
Lack of Data During Era of Stagnant or Falling Home Prices. In addition, the models operated with subprime data for mortgages that had not been exposed to stagnant or falling housing prices. As one February 2007 presentation from a Deutsche Bank investment banker explained, the models used to calculate "subprime mortgage lending criteria and bond subordination levels are based largely on performance experience that was mostly accumulated since the mid-1990s, when the nation's housing market has been booming." |1119| A former managing director in Moody's Structured Finance Group put it this way: "[I]t was ‘like observing 100 years of weather in Antarctica to forecast the weather in Hawaii." |1120| In September 2007, after the crisis had begun, an S&P executive testified before Congress that:
"[W]e are fully aware that, for all our reliance on our analysis of historically rooted data that sometimes went as far back as the Great Depression, some of that data has proved no longer to be as useful or reliable as it has historically been." |1121|
The absence of relevant data for use in RMBS modeling left the credit rating agencies unable to accurately predict mortgage default and loss rates when housing prices stopped climbing. The absence of relevant performance data for high risk mortgage products in an era of stagnant or declining housing prices impacted the rating of not only RMBS transactions, but also CDOs, which typically included RMBS securities and relied heavily on RMBS credit ratings.
Lack of Investment. One reason that Moody's and S&P lacked relevant loan performance data for their RMBS models was not simply that the data was difficult to obtain, but that both companies were reluctant to devote the resources needed to improve their modeling, despite soaring revenues.
Moody's senior managers even expressed skepticism about whether new loan data was needed and, in fact, generally did not purchase new loan data for a four-year period, from 2002 to 2006. |1122| In a 2000 internal email exchange, the head of Moody's Structured Finance Group at the time, Brian Clarkson, wrote the following regarding the purchasing of data for Moody's RMBS model:
"I have a wild thought also – let[']s not even consider BUYING anymore data, programs, software or companies until we figure out what we have and what we intend to do with what we have. From what I have heard and read so far we have approaches (MBS, Tranching and Spread) few use or understand (let alone being able to explain it to the outside) and new data that we are unable to use. We want more data when most of the time we rate MBS deals using arbitrary rule of thumb?!! …
"I suggest we spend less time asking for more data and software (I have not seen anything that sets forth the gains in revenue from such spending -- it is easy to ask for $$ -- much harder to justify it against competing projects) and more time figuring out how to utilize what we have by way of good analysis, a solid approach to this market a proper staffing model." |1123|
In response to Brian Clarkson's email, a managing director wrote:
"As you know, I don't think we need to spend a lot of $ or resources to improve the model from an analytic perspective; but I'd need to defer to people more in the loop (looks like you're that person) on whether the marketing component mandates some announcement of model and data improvement. …
Make sure you talk to Noel and maybe Fons about the decision to buy the data; I was invited to the original meeting so that the powers that be (at the time) could understand the data originally used. I felt that the arguments for buying the data and re-inventing the model were not persuasive .… The most convincing argument for buying the data was that it would be a cornerstone for marketing, that S&P touted the size of their database as a competitive advantage and that this was why they had the market share advantage." |1124|
Moody's advised the Subcommittee that, in fact, it generally did not obtain any new loan data for its RMBS model development for four years, from 2002 until 2006, although it continued to improve its RMBS model in other ways. |1125| In 2005, a Moody's employee survey found that the company's employees felt that Moody's should have been spending more resources on improving its models. |1126| In 2006, Moody's obtained new loan level data for use in its new subprime model, M3 Subprime. |1127|
In contrast to Moody's, S&P did purchase new loan data on several occasions from 2002 to 2006, but told the Subcommittee that this data did not provide meaningful results that could be used in its RMBS model prior to 2006. |1128| In 2002, for example, S&P said that it purchased data on approximately 640,000 loans, including ARM and hybrid loans. S&P told the Subcommittee that it developed an equation from that data set which predicted a lower default rate for ARM and hybrid loans than for fixed rate loans. S&P considered this counter-intuitive and chose not to incorporate it into its model. |1129| In 2005, S&P purchased data on another 2.9 million loans that included first and second liens for prime, subprime, Alt A, high LTV, and home equity loans. |1130| S&P claimed that it made "concerted efforts to analyze" this data, "both by employing external consultants and dedicating resources within Standard & Poor's to analyze the data for criteria development." |1131|
Contrary to S&P's claim, the former head of the S&P RMBS Ratings Group, Frank Raiter, who worked at S&P until 2005, told the Subcommittee that management did not provide him with sufficient resources to analyze the data and develop improved criteria for the RMBS model. |1132| Mr. Raiter told the Subcommittee that he personally informed S&P's senior management about the need to update S&P's model with better loan data several years before the crisis. |1133| Mr. Raiter also testified that the "analysts at S&P had developed better methods for determining default which did capture some of the variations among products that were to become evident at the advent of the crisis," |1134| but those methods were not incorporated into the RMBS model before he left in 2005. Mr. Raiter said that "[i]t is my opinion that had these models been implemented we would have had an earlier warning about the performance of many of the new products that subsequently lead [sic] to such substantial losses." |1135|
According to Mr. Raiter, even though S&P revenues had increased dramatically and were generated in large part by the RMBS Group, senior management had no interest in committing the resources needed to update the RMBS model with improved criteria from the new loan data. Mr. Raiter said that S&P did not spend sufficient money on better analytics, because S&P already dominated the RMBS ratings market: "[T]he RMBS group enjoyed the largest ratings market share among the three major rating agencies (often 92% or better), and improving the model would not add to S&P's revenues." |1136|
Poor Correlation Risk Assumptions. In addition to using inadequate loan performance data, the S&P and Moody's credit rating models also incorporated inadequate assumptions about the correlative risk of mortgage backed securities. Correlative risk measures the likelihood of multiple negative events happening simultaneously, such as the likelihood of RMBS assets defaulting together. It examines the likelihood, for example, that two houses in the same neighborhood will default together compared to two houses in different states. If the neighborhood houses are more likely to default together, they would have a higher correlation risk than the houses in different states.
The former head of S&P's Global CDO Group, Richard Gugliada, told the Subcommittee that the inaccurate RMBS and CDO ratings issued by his company were due, in part, to wrong assumptions in the S&P models about correlative risk. |1137| Mr. Gugliada explained that, because CDOs held fewer assets than RMBS, statistical analysis was less helpful, and the modeling instead required use of significant performance assumptions, including on correlative risk. He explained that the primary S&P CDO model, the "CDO Evaluator," ran 100,000 simulations to determine how a pool would perform. These simulations ran on a set of assumptions that took the place of historical performance data, according to Mr. Gugliada, and included assumptions on the probability of default and the correlation between assets if one or more assets began to default. He said that S&P believed that RMBS assets were more likely to default together than, for example, corporate bonds held in a CDO. He said that S&P had set the probability of corporate correlated defaults at 30 out of 100, and set the probability of RMBS correlated defaults at 40 out of 100. He said that the financial crisis has now shown that the RMBS correlative assumptions were far too low and should have been set closer to 80 or 90 out of 100. |1138|
On one occasion in 2006, an outside party also highlighted a problem with the S&P model's consideration of correlative risk. On March 20, 2006, a senior managing director at Aladdin Capital Management, LLC sent an email to S&P expressing concern about a later version of its CDO model, Evaluator 3:
"Thanks for a terrific presentation at the UBS conference. I mentioned to you a possible error in the new Evaluator 3.0 assumptions:
Two companies in the same Region belonging to two different local Sectors are assumed to be correlated (by 5%), while if they belong to the same local Sector then they are un correlated.
I think you probably didn't mean that." |1139|
Apparently, this problem with the model had already been identified within S&P. Two S&P employees discussed the problem on the same email, with one saying:
"I have already brought this issue up and it was decided that it would be changed in the future, the next time we update the criteria. … [T]he correlation matrix is inconsistent."
Despite this clear problem resulting in the understatement of correlative risk for assets in the same region, S&P in this instance did not immediately take the steps needed to repair its CDO model.
At Moody's, a former Managing Director of the CDO Group, Gary Witt, observed a different set of correlation problems with Moody's CDO model. Mr. Witt, who was responsible for managing Moody's CDO analysts as well as its CDO modeling, told the Subcommittee that he had become uncomfortable with the lack of correlation built into the company's methodology. |1140| According to Mr. Witt, Moody's model, which then used the "Binomial Expansion Technique (BET)," addressed correlation by having a diversity score at a time when CDOs had diverse assets such as credit cards or aircraft lease revenues, in addition to RMBS securities. By 2004, however, Mr. Witt said that most CDOs contained primarily RMBS assets, lacked diversity, and made little use of the diversity score.
Mr. Witt told the Subcommittee that, from 2004 to 2005, he worked on modifying the BET model to improve its consideration of correlation factors. According to Mr. Witt, modeling changes like the one he worked on had to be done on an employee's own time – late nights and weekends – because there was no time during the work week due to the volume of deals. Indeed, during his eighteen month tenure as a Managing Director in the CDO Group, Mr. Witt "spent a huge amount of time working on methodology because the ABS CDO market especially was in transition from multi-sector to single sector transactions [RMBS]" which he felt necessitated an update of Moody's model. |1141| Mr. Witt indicated that, in June 2005, Moody's CDO model was changed to incorporate part of his suggested improvements, but did not go as far as he had proposed. When asked about this 2005 decision, Mr. Witt indicated that he did not feel that Moody's was getting the ratings wrong for CDOs with RMBS assets, but he did "think that we [Moody's] were not allocating nearly enough resources to get the ratings right." |1142|
The lack of performance data for high risk residential mortgage products, the lack of mortgage performance data in an era of stagnating or declining housing prices, the failure to expend resources to improve their model analytics, and incorrect correlation assumptions meant that the RMBS and CDO models used by Moody's and S&P were out of date, technically deficient, and could not provide accurate default and loss predictions to support the credit ratings being issued. Yet Moody's and S&P analysts told the Subcommittee that their analysts relied heavily on their model outputs to project the default and loss rates for RMBS and CDO pools and rate RMBS and CDO securities.
Obtaining expected default and loss analysis from the Moody's and S&P credit rating models was only one aspect of the work performed by RMBS and CDO analysts. Equally important was their effort to analyze a proposed transaction's legal structure, cash flow, allocation of revenues, the size and nature of its tranches, and its credit enhancements. Analyzing each of these elements involved often complex judgments about how a transaction would work and what impact various factors would have on credit risk. Although both Moody's and S&P published a number of criteria, methodologies, and guidance on how to handle a variety of credit risk factors, the novelty and complexity of the RMBS and CDO transactions, the volume and speed of the ratings process, and inconsistent applications of the various rules, meant that CRA analysts were continuously faced with issues that were difficult to resolve about how to analyze a transaction and apply the company's standards. Evidence obtained by the Subcommittee indicates that, at times, ratings personnel acted with limited guidance, unclear criteria, and a limited understanding of the complex deals they were asked to rate.
Many documents obtained by the Subcommittee disclosed confusion and a high level of frustration from RMBS and CDO analysts about how to handle ratings issues and how the ratings process actually worked. In May 2007, for example, one S&P employee wrote: "[N]o body gives a straight answer about anything around here …. [H]ow about we come out with new [criteria] or a new stress and ac[tu]ally have clear cut parameters on what the hell we are supposed to do." |1143| Two years earlier, in May 2005, an S&P analyst complaining about a rating decision wrote:
"Chui told me that while the three of us voted ‘no', in writing, that there were 4 other ‘yes' votes. … [T]his is a great example of how the criteria process is NOT supposed to work. Being out-voted is one thing (and a good thing, in my view), but being out-voted by mystery voters with no ‘logic trail' to refer to is another. ... Again, this is exactly the kind of backroom decision-making that leads to inconsistent criteria, confused analysts, and pissed-off clients." |1144|
When asked by the SEC to compile a list of its rating criteria in 2007, S&P was unable to identify all of its criteria for making rating decisions. The head of criteria for the structured finance department, for example, who was tasked with gathering information for the SEC, wrote in an email to colleagues:
"[O]ur published criteria as it currently stands is a bit too unwieldy and all over the map in terms of being current or comprehensive. ... [O]ur SF [Structured Finance] rating approach is inherently flexible and subjective, while much of our written criteria is detailed and prescriptive. Doing a complete inventory of our criteria and documenting all of the areas where it is out of date or inaccurate would appear to be a huge job ...." |1145|
The confused and subjective state of S&P criteria, including when the criteria had to be applied, is also evident in a May 2007 email sent by an S&P senior director to colleagues discussing whether to apply a default stress test to certain CDOs:
"[T]he cash-flow criteria from 2004 (see below), actually states [using a default stress test when additional concerns about the CDO are raised] ... in the usual vague S&P's way .... Still, consistency is key for me and if we decide we do not need that, fine but I would recommend we do something. Unless we have too many deals in [the] US where this could hurt." |1146|
Moody's ratings criteria were equally subjective, changeable, and inconsistent. In an October 2007 internal email, for example, Moody's Chief Risk Officer wrote:
"Methodologies & criteria are published and thus put boundaries on rating committee discretion. (However, there is usually plenty of latitude within those boundaries to register market influence.)" |1147|
Another factor was that ratings analysts were also under constant pressure to quickly analyze and rate complex RMBS and CDO transactions. To enable RMBS or CDO transactions to meet projected closing dates, it was not uncommon, as shown above, for CRA analysts to grant exceptions to established methodologies and criteria, put off analysis of complex issues to later transactions, and create precedents that investment banks invoked in subsequent securitizations. CRA analysts were then compelled to decide whether to follow an earlier exception, revert to the published methodology and criteria, or devise still another compromise. The result was additional confusion over how to rate complex RMBS and CDO securities.
Publication of the CRAs' ratings methodologies and criteria was also inconsistent. According to an October 2006 email sent by an investment banker at Morgan Stanley to an analyst at Moody's, for example, key methodology changes had not been made public: "Our problem here is that nobody has told us about the changes that we are later expected to adhere to. Since there is no published criteria outlining the change in methodology how are we supposed to find out about it?" |1148| On another occasion, a Moody's analyst sought guidance from senior managers because of the lack of consistency in applying certain criteria. He wrote: "Over time, different chairs have been giving different guidelines at different point[s] of time on how much over-enhancement we need for a bond to be notched up to Aaa." |1149| In a November 2007 email, another senior executive described the criteria problem this way: "It seems, though, that the more of the ad hoc rules we add, the further away from the data and models we move and the closer we move to building models that ape analysts expectations, no?" |1150|
The rating agency models were called by some the "black box," because they were difficult to understand and not always predictable. Issuers and investors alike vented frustrations toward the black box and that they had to base their decisions on a computer program few understood or could replicate. This email from June 20, 2006, recounts the conversation one Moody's employee had with another over frustrations they had heard from an outside issuer.
"Managers are tired of large ‘grids.' They would rather prefer a model based test like what S&P and Fitch do. Pascale disagrees with these managers. As a wrapper, she hates that the credit quality of what she wraps is linked to a black box. Also, she hates the fact that the black box can change from time to time. |1151|
A January 2007 email from BlackRock to S&P (and other rating agencies) also complained about the "black box" problem:
"What steps are you taking to better communicate and comfort investors about your ratings process? In other w[o]rds, how do we break the ‘black box' that determines enhancement levels?" |1152|
At times, some CRA analysts openly questioned their ability to rate some complex securities. In a December 2006 email chain regarding a synthetic CDO squared, for example, S&P analysts appeared challenged by a modeling problem and questioned their ability to rate the product. One analyst wrote: "Rating agencies continue to create and [sic] even bigger monster - - the CDO market. Let's hope we are all wealthy and retired by the time this house of cards falters." |1153| In an email written in a similar vein, an S&P manager preparing for a presentation wrote to her colleagues: "Can anyone give me a crash course on the ‘hidden risks in CDO's of RMBS'?" |1154| In an April 2007 instant message, an S&P analyst offered this cynical comment: "[W]e rate every deal[.] [I]t could be structured by cows and we would rate it." |1155|
Another key factor that contributed to inaccurate credit ratings was the failure of Moody's and S&P to retest outstanding RMBS and CDO securities after improvements were made to their credit rating models. These model improvements generally did not derive from data on new types of high risk mortgages, but were intended to improve the models' predictive capability, |1156| but even after they were made, CRA analysts failed to utilize them to downgrade artificially high RMBS and CDO credit ratings.
Key model adjustments were made in 2006 to both the RMBS and CDO models to improve their ability to predict expected default and loss rates for higher risk mortgages. Both Moody's and S&P decided to apply the revised models to rate new RMBS and CDO transactions, but not to retest outstanding subprime RMBS and CDO securities, even though many of those securities contained the same types of mortgages and risks that the models were recalibrated to evaluate. Had they retested the existing RMBS and CDO securities and issued appropriate rating downgrades starting in 2006, the CRAs could have signaled investors about the increasing risk in the mortgage market, possibly dampened the rate of securitizations, and possibly reduced the impact of the financial crisis.
Surveillance Obligations. Both Moody's and S&P were obligated by contract to conduct ongoing surveillance of the RMBS and CDO securities they rated to ensure the ratings remained valid over the life of the rated securities. In fact, both companies charged annual surveillance fees to the issuers of the securities to pay for the surveillance costs, and each had established a separate division to carry out surveillance duties. Due to the huge numbers of RMBS and CDO securities issued in the years leading up to the financial crisis, those surveillance divisions were responsible for reviewing tens of thousands of securities. The issue of whether to retest the outstanding securities using the revised credit rating models was, thus, a significant issue affecting numerous securities and substantial company resources.
Increased Loss Protection. In July 2006, S&P made significant adjustments to its subprime RMBS model. S&P had determined that, to avoid an increasing risk of default, subprime RMBS securities required additional credit enhancements that would provide 40% more protection to keep the investment grade securities from experiencing losses. |1157| Moody's made similar adjustments to its RMBS model around the same time, settling on parameters that required 30% more loss protection. As Moody's explained to the Senate Banking Committee in September 2007:
"In response to the increase in the riskiness of loans made during the last few years and the changing economic environment, Moody's steadily increased its loss expectations and subsequent levels of credit protection on pools of subprime loans. Our loss expectations and enhancement levels rose by about 30% over the 2003 to 2006 time period, and as a result, bonds issued in 2006 and rated by Moody's had more credit protection than bonds issued in earlier years." |1158|
The determination that RMBS pools required 30-40% more credit enhancements to protect higher rated tranches from loss reflected calculations by the updated CRA models that these asset pools were exposed to significantly more risk of delinquencies and defaults. Requiring increased loss protection meant that Moody's and S&P analysts had to require more revenues to be set aside in each pool to provide AAA ratings greater protection than before the model adjustments. Requiring increased loss protection also meant RMBS pools would have a smaller pool of AAA securities to sell to investors. That meant, in turn, that RMBS pools would produce fewer profits for issuers and arrangers. Requiring increased loss protection had a similar impact on CDOs that included RMBS assets.
Retesting RMBS Securities. Even though S&P and Moody's had independently revised their RMBS models and, by 2006, determined that additional credit enhancements of 30-40% were needed to protect investment grade tranches from loss, in 2006 and the first half of 2007, neither company used its revised models to evaluate existing rated subprime RMBS securities as part of its surveillance efforts. |1159| Instead S&P, for example, sent out a June 2006 email announcing that no retests would be done:
"Simply put – although the RMBS Group does not ‘grandfather' existing deals, there is not an absolute and direct link between changes to our new ratings models and subsequent rating actions taken by the RMBS Surveillance Group. As a result, there will not be wholesale rating actions taken in July or shortly thereafter on outstanding RMBS transactions, absent a deterioration in performance and projected credit support on any individual transaction." |1160|
Moody's and S&P each advised the Subcommittee that it had decided not to retest any existing rated RMBS securities, because it felt that actual performance data for the pools in question would provide a better indicator of future defaults and loss than application of its statistical model. But actual loan performance data for the subprime mortgages in the pools – the fact that, for example, timely loan payments had been made in the past on most of those loans – provided an incomplete picture regarding whether those payments would continue to be made after home prices stopped climbing, refinancings became difficult, and higher interest rates took effect in many of the mortgages. By focusing only on actual past performance, the ratings ignored foreseeable problems and gave investors false assurances about the creditworthiness of the RMBS and CDO securities.
Some CRA employees expressed concern about the limitations placed on their ability to alter ratings to reflect expected performance of the rated securities. In a July 2007 email just before the mass ratings downgrades began, for example, an S&P senior executive raised concerns about these to the head of the RMBS Surveillance Group as follows:
"Overall, our ratings should be based on our expectations of performance, not solely the month to month performance record, which will only be backward looking. ... Up to this point, Surveillance has been ‘limited' in when we can downgrade a rating (only after it has experienced realized losses), how far we can adjust the rating (no more than 3 notches at a time is preferred), and how high up the capital structure we can go (not downgrading higher rated classes, if they ‘pass' our stressed cash flow runs)." |1161|
In addition, many of the RMBS loans were less than a year old, making any performance data less significant and difficult to analyze. In others words, the loans were too unseasoned or new to offer any real predictive performance value.
Some internal S&P emails suggest alternative explanations for the decision not to retest. In October 2005, for example, an S&P analytic manager in the Structured Finance Ratings Group sent an email to his colleagues asking: "How do we handle existing deals especially if there are material changes [to a model] that can cause existing ratings to change?" His email then laid out what he believed was S&P's position at that time:
- "I think the history has been to only re-review a deal under new assumptions/criteria when the deal is flagged for some performance reason. I do not know of a situation where there were wholesale changes to existing ratings when the primary group changed assumptions or even instituted new criteria. The two major reasons why we have taken the approach is (i) lack of sufficient personnel resources and (ii) not having the same models/information available for surveillance to relook at an existing deal with the new assumptions (i.e. no cash flow models for a number of assets). The third reason is concerns of how disruptive wholesale rating changes, based on a criteria change, can be to the market.
- CDO is current[ly] debating the issue and appropriate approach as they change the methodology." |1162|
This email suggests the reason retesting did not occur was, not because S&P thought actual performance data would produce more accurate ratings for existing pools, but because S&P did not have the resources to retest, and lower ratings on existing deals might have disrupted the marketplace, upsetting investment banks and investors. Several S&P managers and analysts confirmed in Subcommittee interviews that these were the real reasons for the decision not to retest existing RMBS securities. |1163| Moody's documents also suggest that resource constraints may lay behind its decision not to retest. |1164|
The Subcommittee also found evidence suggesting that investment banks may have rushed to have deals rated before the CRAs implemented more stringent revised models. In an attempt to explain why one RMBS security from the same vintage and originator was pricing better than another, a CDO trader wrote:
"Only reasons I can think for my guys showing you a tighter level is that we are very short this one and that the June 06 deals have a taint that earlier months don[']t due to the theory that late June deals were crammed with bad stuff in order to beat the S & P [model] revisions. |1165|
Retesting CDO Securities. The debate over retesting existing CDO securities followed a similar path to the debate over retesting RMBS securities. The CDO Group at S&P first faced the retest question in the summer of 2005, when it made a major change to its CDO model, then Evaluator 3 (E3). |1166| The S&P CDO Group appeared ready to announce and implement the improved model that summer, but then took more than a year to implement it as the group struggled to rationalize why it would not retest existing CDO securities with the improved assumptions. |1167| Internal S&P emails indicate that the primary considerations were, again, resource limitations and possible disruption to the CDO market, rather than concerns over accuracy. For instance, in a June 2005 email sent to an S&P senior executive, the head of the CDO Group wrote:
"The overarching issue at this point is what to do with currently rated transactions if we do release a new version of Evaluator. Some of [us] believe for both logistical and market reasons that the existing deals should mainly be ‘grand fathered'. Others believe that we should run all deals using the new Evaluator. The problem with running all deals using E3 is twofold: we don't have the model or resource capacity to do so, nor do we all believe that even if we did have the capability, it would be the responsible thing to do to the market." |1168|
Several months later the S&P CDO Ratings Group was still deliberating the issue. In November 2005, an investment banker at Morgan Stanley who had concerns about whether E3 would be used to retest existing deals and those in the pipeline expressed frustration at the delay:
"We are in a bit of a pickle here. My legal staff is not letting me send anything out to any investor on anything with an S&P rating right now. We are waiting for you to tell us … that you approve the disclaimer or are grandfathering [not retesting with E3] our existing and pipeline deals. My business is on ‘pause' right now." |1169|
One S&P senior manager, frustrated by an inability to get an answer on the retesting issue, sent an email to a colleague complaining: "Lord help our f**king scam .... this has to be the stupidest place I have worked at." |1170|
In May 2006, S&P circulated a draft policy setting up what seemed to be an informal screening process "prior to transition date" to see how existing CDOs would be affected by the revised CDO model. The draft offered a convoluted approach in an apparent attempt to avoid retesting all existing CDOs, which included allowing the use of the prior "E2" model and review "by a special E3 committee." The draft policy read in part as follows:
"***PRIVILEGED AND CONFIDENTIAL - S&P DISCUSSION PURPOSES ONLY***
Prior to Transition Date (in preparation for final implementation of E3 for cash CDOs) :
- A large majority of the pre- E3 cash flow CDOs will be run through E3 in batch processes to see how the ratings look within the new model …
- Ratings falling more than 3 notches +/- from the current tranche rating in the batch process will be reviewed in detail for any modeling, data, performance or other issues
- If any transactions are found to be passing/failing E3 by more than 3 notches due to performance reasons they will be handled through the regular surveillance process to see if the ratings are stable under current criteria (i.e., if they pass E2.4.3 using current cash flow assumptions the ratings will remain unchanged)
- If any transactions are found to be passing/failing E3 by more than 3 notches due to a model gap between E2.4.3 and E3, they will be reviewed by a special E3 committee ...." |1171|
It is unclear whether this screening actually took place.
Questions continued to be raised internally at S&P about the retesting issue. In March 2007, almost a year after the change was made in the CDO model, an S&P senior executive wrote to the Chief Criteria Officer in the structured finance department:
"Why did the criteria change made in mid 2006 not impact any outstanding transactions at the time we changed it, especially given the magnitude of the change we are highlighting in the article? Should we apply the new criteria now, given what we now know? If we did, what would be the impact?" |1172|
In July 2007, the same senior executive raised the issue again in an email asking the S&P Analytic Policy Board to address the alignment of surveillance methodology and new model changes at a "special meeting." |1173| But by then, residential mortgages were already defaulting in record numbers, and the mass downgrades of RMBS and CDO ratings had begun.
Consequences for Investors. During the April 23 Subcommittee hearing, credit ratings expert, Professor Arturo Cifuentes, explained to the Subcommittee the importance of retesting existing rated deals when there is a model change.
Senator Levin: If a ratings model changes its assumptions or criteria, for instance, if it becomes materially more conservative, how important is it that the credit rating agency use the new assumptions or criteria to re-test or re-evaluate securities that are under surveillance?
Mr. Cifuentes: Well, it is very important for two reasons: Because if you do not do that, you are basically creating two classes of securities, a low class and an upper class, and that creates a discrepancy in the market. At the same time, you are not being fair because you are giving an inflated rating then to a security or you are not communicating to the market that the ratings given before were of a different class. |1174|
Moody's and S&P updated their RMBS and CDO models with more conservative criteria in 2006, but then used the revised models to evaluate only new RMBS and CDO transactions, bypassing the existing RMBS and CDO securities that could have benefited from the new credit analysis. Even with respect to the new RMBS and CDOs, investment banks sought to delay use of the revised models that required additional credit enhancements to protect investment grade tranches from loss. For example, in May 2007, Morgan Stanley sent an email to a Moody's Managing Director with the following:
"Thanks again for your help (and Mark's) in getting Morgan Stanley up-to-speed with your new methodology. As we discussed last Friday, please find below a list of transactions with which Morgan Stanley is significantly engaged already (assets in warehouses, some liabilities placed). We appreciate your willingness to grandfather these transactions [under] Moody's old methodology." |1175|
When asked about the failure of Moody's and S&P to retest existing securities after their model updates in 2006, the global head trader for CDOs from Deutsche Bank told the Subcommittee that he believed the credit rating agencies did not retest them, because to do so would have meant significant downgrades and "they did not want to upset the apple cart." |1176| Instead, the credit rating agencies waited until 2007, when the high risk mortgages underlying the outstanding RMBS and CDO securities incurred record delinquencies and defaults and then, based upon the actual loan performance, instituted mass ratings downgrades. Those sudden mass downgrades caught many financial institutions and other investors by surprise, leaving them with billions of dollars of suddenly unmarketable securities. The RMBS secondary market collapsed soon after, and the CDO secondary market followed.
In addition to operating with conflicts of interest, models containing inadequate performance data, subjective and inconsistent rating criteria, and a policy against using improved models to retest outstanding RMBS and CDO securities, despite the increasing numbers of ratings issued each year and record revenues as a result, neither Moody's nor S&P hired sufficient staff or devoted sufficient resources to ensure that the initial rating process and the subsequent surveillance process produced accurate credit ratings.
Instead, both Moody's and S&P forced their staffs to churn out new ratings and conduct required surveillance with limited resources. Over time, the credit rating agencies' profits became increasingly connected to issuing a high volume of ratings. By not devoting sufficient resources to handle the high volume of ratings, the strain on resources negatively impacted the quality of the ratings and their surveillance.
High Speed Ratings. From 2000 to 2007, Moody's and S&P issued record numbers of RMBS and CDO ratings. Each year the number of ratings issued by each firm increased. According to SEC examinations of the firms, from 2002 to 2006, "the volume of RMBS deals rated by Moody's increased by 137%, and the number of CDO deals … increased by 700%." |1177| At S&P, the SEC determined that over the same time period, "the volume of RMBS deals rated by S&P increased by 130%, and the number of CDO deals … increased by over 900%." |1178| In addition to the rapid growth in numbers, the transactions themselves grew in complexity, requiring more time and talent to analyze.
The former head of the S&P RMBS Group, Frank Raiter, described the tension between profits and resources this way: "Management wanted increased revenues and profit while analysts wanted more staff, data and IT support which increased expenses and obviously reduced profit." |1179|
Moody's CEO, Ray McDaniel, readily acknowledged during the Subcommittee's April 23 hearing that resources were stressed and that Moody's was short staffed. |1180| He testified: "People were working longer hours than we wanted them to, working more days of the week than we wanted them to." He continued: "It was not for lack of having open positions, but with the pace at which the market was growing, it was difficult to fill positions as quickly as we would have liked." |1181|
Moody's staff, however, had raised concerns about personnel shortages impacting their work quality as early as 2002. A 2002 survey of the Structured Finance Group staff reported, for example:
"[T]here is some concern about workload and its impact on operating effectiveness. … Most acknowledge that Moody's intends to run lean, but there is some question of whether effectiveness is compromised by the current deployment of staff." |1182|
Similar concerns were expressed three years later in a 2005 employee survey:
"We are over worked. Too many demands are placed on us for admin[istrative] tasks ... and are detracting from primary workflow .... We need better technology to meet the demand of running increasingly sophisticated models." |1183|
In 2006, Moody's analyst Richard Michalek worried that investment bankers were taking advantage of the fact that analysts did not have the time to understand complex deals. He wrote:
"I am worried that we are not able to give these complicated deals the attention they really deserve, and that they (CS) [Credit Suisse] are taking advantage of the ‘light' review and the growing sense of ‘precedent'." |1184|
Moody's managers and analysts interviewed by the Subcommittee stated that staff shortages impacted how much time could be spent analyzing a transaction. One analyst responsible for rating CDOs told the Subcommittee that, during the height of the boom, Moody's analysts didn't have time to understand the complex deals being rated and had to set priorities on what issues would be examined:
"When I joined the [CDO] Group in 1999 there were seven lawyers and the Group rated something on the order of 40 – 60 transactions annually. In 2006, the Group rated over 600 transactions, using the resources of approximately 12 lawyers. The hyper-growth years from the second half of 2004 through 2006 represented a steady and constant adjustment to the amount of time that could be allotted to any particular deal's analysis, and with that adjustment, a constant re-ordering of the priority assigned to the issues to be raised at rating Committees." |1185|
A Moody's managing director responsible for supervising CDO analysts put it this way in a 2007 email: "Unfortunately, our analysts are o[v]erwhelmed…" |1186| Moody's CEO testified at the Subcommittee's hearing "[w]e had stress on our resources in this period, absolutely." |1187| Senator Levin asked him if Moody's was profitable at the time, and he responded "[w]e were profitable, yes." |1188|
S&P also experienced significant resource shortages. In 2004, for example, a managing director in the RMBS Group wrote a lengthy email about the resource problems impacting credit analysis:
"I am trying to put my hat on not only for ABS/RMBS but for the department and be helpful but feel that it is necessary to re-iterate that there is a shortage in resources in RMBS. If I did not convey this to each of you I would be doing a disservice to each of you and the department. As an update, December is going to be our busiest month ever in RMBS. I am also concerned that there is a perception that we have been getting all the work done up until now and therefore can continue to do so.
"We ran our Staffing model assuming the analysts are working 60 hours a week and we are short resources. We could talk about the assumptions and make modifications but the results would be similar. The analysts on average are working longer than this and we are burning them out. We have had a couple of resignations and expect more. It has come to my attention in the last couple of days that we have a number of staff members that are experiencing health issues." |1189|
A May 2006 internal email from an S&P senior manager in the Structured Finance Real Estate Ratings Group expressed similar concerns:
"We spend most of our time keeping each other and our staff calm. Tensions are high. Just too much work, not enough people, pressure from company, quite a bit of turnover and no coordination of the non-deal ‘stuff' they want us and our staff to do ...." |1190|
The head of the S&P CDO Ratings Group sent a 2006 email to the head of the Structured Finance Department to make a similar point. She wrote:
"While I realize that our revenues and client service numbers don't indicate any ill [e]ffects from our severe understaffing situation, I am more concerned than ever that we are on a downward spiral of morale, analytical leadership/quality and client service." |1191|
Some of the groups came up with creative ways to address their staffing shortages. For example, the head of the S&P RMBS Ratings Group between 2005 and 2007, Susan Barnes, advised the Subcommittee that her group regularly borrowed staff from the S&P Surveillance Group to assist with new ratings. She said that almost half the surveillance staff provided assistance on issuing new ratings during her tenure, and estimated that each person in the surveillance group might have contributed up to 25% of his or her time to issuing new ratings. |1192|
The Subcommittee investigation discovered a cadre of professional RMBS and CDO rating analysts who were rushed, overworked, and demoralized. They were asked to evaluate increasing numbers of increasingly complex financial instruments at high speed, using out-ofdate rating models and unclear ratings criteria, while acting under pressure from management to increase market share and revenues and pressure from investment banks to ignore credit risk. These analysts were short staffed even as their employers collected record revenues.
Resource-Starved Surveillance. Resource shortages also impacted the ability of the credit rating agencies to conduct surveillance on outstanding rated RMBS and CDO securities to evaluate their credit risk. The credit rating agencies were contractually obligated to monitor the accuracy of the ratings they issued over the life of the rated transactions. CRA surveillance analysts were supposed to evaluate each rating on an ongoing basis to determine whether the rating should be affirmed, upgraded, or downgraded. To support this analysis, both companies collected substantial annual surveillance fees from the issuers of the financial instruments they rated, and set up surveillance groups to review the ratings. In the case of RMBS and CDO securities, the Subcommittee investigation found evidence that these surveillance groups may have lacked the resources to properly monitor the thousands of rated products.
At Moody's, for example, a 2007 email disclosed that about 26 surveillance analysts were responsible for tracking over 13,000 rated CDO securities:
"Thanks for sharing the draft of the CDO surveillance piece you're planning to publish later this week. … In the section about your CDO surveillance infrastructure, we were struck by the data point about the 26 professionals who are dedicated to monitoring CDO ratings. While this is, no doubt, a strong team, we wanted to at least raise the question about whether the company's critics could twist that number – e.g., by comparing it to the 13,000+ CDOs you're monitoring – and once again question if you have adequate resources to do your job effectively. Given that potential risk, we thought you might consider removing any specific reference to the number of people on the CDO surveillance team." |1193|
The evidence of surveillance shortages at S&P was particularly telling. Although during an interview with the Subcommittee, the head of S&P's RMBS Surveillance Group from 2001 to 2008, Ernestine Warner, said she had adequate resources to conduct surveillance of rated RMBS securities during her tenure, her emails indicate otherwise. |1194| In emails sent over a two-year period, she repeatedly described and complained about a lack of resources that was impeding her group's ability to complete its work. In the spring of 2006, she emailed her colleague about her growing anxiety:
"RMBS has an all time high of 5900 transactions. Each time I consider what my group is faced with, I become more and more anxious. The situation with Lal [a surveillance analyst], being off line or out of the group, is having a huge impact." |1195|
In June 2006, she wrote that the problems were not getting better:
"It really feels like I am repeating myself when it comes to completing a very simple project and addressing some of the other surveillance needs. … The inability to make a decision about how the project is going to be resourced is causing undue stress. I have talked to you and Peter [D'Erchia, head of global structured finance surveillance,] about each of the issues below and at this point I am not sure what else you need from me. …
To rehash the points below:
In addition to the project above that involves some 863 deals, I have a back log of deals that are out of date with regard to ratings. … We recognize that I am still understaffed with these two additional bodies. … [W]e may be falling further behind at the rate the deals are closing. If we do not agree on the actual number, certainly we can agree that I need more recourse if I am ever going to be near compliance." |1196|
In December 2006, she wrote:
"In light of the current state of residential mortgage performance, especially sub-prime, I think it would be very beneficial for the RMBS surveillance team to have the work being done by the temps to continue. It is still very important that performance data is loaded on a timely basis as this has an impact on our exception reports. Currently, there are nearly 1,000 deals with data loads aged beyond one month." |1197|
In February 2007, she expressed concerns about having adequate resources to address potential downgrades in RMBS:
"I talked to Tommy yesterday and he thinks that the [RMBS] ratings are not going to hold through 2007. He asked me to begin discussing taking rating actions earlier on the poor performing deals. I have been thinking about this for much of the night. We do not have the resources to support what we are doing now. A new process, without the right support, would be overwhelming. ... My group is under serious pressure to respond to the burgeoning poor performance of sub-prime deals. … we are really falling behind.… I am seeing evidence that I really need to add staff to keep up with what is going on with sub prime and mortgage performance in general, NOW." |1198|
In April 2007, a managing director at S&P in the Structured Finance Group wrote an email confirming the staffing shortages in the RMBS Surveillance Group:
"We have worked together with Ernestine Warner (EW) to produce a staffing model for RMBS Surveillance (R-Surv). It is intended to measure the staffing needed for detailed surveillance of the 2006 vintage and also everything issued prior to that. This model shows that the R-Surv staff is short by 7 FTE [Full Time Employees] - about 3 Directors, 2 AD's, and 2 Associates. The model suggests that the current staff may have been right sized if we excluded coverage of the 2006 vintage, but was under titled lacking sufficient seniority, skill, and experience." |1199|
The global head of the S&P Structured Finance Surveillance Group, Peter D'Erchia, told the Subcommittee that, in late 2006, he expressed concerns to senior management about surveillance resources and the need to downgrade subprime in more significant numbers in light of the deteriorating subprime market. |1200| According to Mr. D'Erchia, the executive managing director of the Global Structured Finance Ratings Group, Joanne Rose, disagreed with him about the need to issue significantly more downgrades in subprime RMBS and this disagreement continued into the next year. He also told the Subcommittee that after this disagreement with her, he received a disappointing 2007 performance evaluation. He wrote the following in the employee comment section of his evaluation:
"Even more offensive – and flatly wrong – is the statement that I am not working for a good outcome for S&P. That is all I am working towards and have been for 26 years. It is hard to respond to such comments, which I think reflect Joanne's [Rose] personal feelings arising from our disagreement over subprime debt deterioration, not professional assessment. … Such comments, and others like it, suggest to me that this year-end appraisal, in contrast to the mid-year appraisal, has more to do with our differences over subprime deterioration than an objective assessment of my overall performance." |1201|
In 2008, Mr. D'Erchia was removed from his surveillance position, where he oversaw more than 314 employees, as part of a reduction in force. He was subsequently rehired as a managing director in U.S. Public Finance at S&P, a position without staff to supervise. Similarly, Ernestine Warner, the head of RMBS Surveillance, lost her managerial position and was reassigned to investor relations in the Structured Finance Group.
On July 10, 2007, amid record mortgage defaults, S&P abruptly began downgrading its outstanding RMBS and CDO ratings. In July alone, it downgraded the ratings of more than 1,000 RMBS and 100 CDO securities. Both credit rating agencies continued to issue significant downgrades throughout the remainder of 2007. On January 30, 2008, S&P took action on over 8,200 RMBS and CDO ratings – meaning it either downgraded their ratings or placed the securities on credit watch with negative implications. These and other downgrades, matched by equally substantial numbers at Moody's, paint a picture of CRA surveillance teams acting at top speed in overwhelming circumstances to correct thousands of inaccurate RMBS and CDO ratings. When asked to produce contemporaneous decision-making documents indicating how and when the ratings were selected for downgrade, neither S&P nor Moody's produced meaningful documentation. The facts suggest that CRA surveillance analysts with already substantial responsibilities and limited resources were forced to go into overdrive to clean up ratings that could not "hold."
A final factor that contributed to inaccurate credit ratings involves mortgage fraud. Although the credit rating agencies were clearly aware of increased levels of mortgage fraud, they did not factor that credit risk into their quantitative models or adequately factor it into their qualitative analyses. The absence of that credit risk meant that the credit enhancements they required were insufficient, the tranches bearing AAA ratings were too large, and the ratings they issued were too optimistic.
Reports of mortgage fraud were frequent and mounted yearly prior to the financial crisis. As noted above, as early as 2004, the FBI began issuing reports on increased mortgage fraud. |1202| The FBI was also quoted in Congressional testimony and in the popular press about the mortgage fraud problem. CNN reported that "[r]ampant fraud in the mortgage industry has increased so sharply that the FBI warned Friday of an ‘epidemic' of financial crimes which, if not curtailed, could become ‘the next S&L crisis.'" |1203| In 2006, the FBI reported that the number of Suspicious Activity Reports on mortgage fraud had increased sixfold, from about 6,800 in 2002, to about 36,800 in 2006, while pending mortgage fraud cases nearly doubled from 436 in FY 2003 to 818 in FY 2006. |1204| The Mortgage Asset Research Institute, LLC (MARI) also reported increasing mortgage fraud over several years, including a 30% increase in 2006 alone. |1205|
Published reports, as well as internal emails, demonstrate that analysts within both Moody's and S&P were aware of the serious mortgage fraud problem in the industry. |1206| Despite being on notice about the problem and despite assertions about the importance of loan data quality in the ratings process for structured finance securities, |1207| neither Moody's nor S&P established procedures to account for the possibility of fraud in its ratings process. For example, neither company took any steps to ensure that the loan data provided for specific RMBS loan pools had been reviewed for accuracy. |1208| The former head of S&P's RMBS Group, Frank Raiter, stated in his prepared testimony for the Subcommittee hearing that the S&P rating process did not include any "due diligence" review of the loan tape or any requirement for the provider of the loan tape to certify its accuracy. He stated: "We were discouraged from even using the term ‘due diligence' as it was believed to expose S&P to liability." |1209| Fraud was also not factored into the RMBS or CDO quantitative models. |1210|
Yet when Moody's and S&P initiated the mass downgrades of RMBS and CDO securities in July 2007, they directed some of the blame for the rating errors on the volume of mortgage fraud. On July 10, 2007, when S&P announced that it was placing 612 U.S. subprime RMBS on negative credit watch, S&P noted the high incidence of fraud reported by MARI, "misrepresentations on credit reports," and that "[d]ata quality concerning some of the borrower and loan characteristics provided during the rating process [had] also come under question." |1211| In October 2007, the CEO of Fitch Ratings, another ratings firm, said in an interview that "the blame may lie with fraudulent lending practices, not his industry." |1212| Moody's made similar observations. In 2008, Moody's CEO Ray McDaniel told a panel at the World Economic Forum:
"In hindsight, it is pretty clear that there was a failure in some key assumptions that were supporting our analytics and our models.… [One reason for the failure was that the] ‘information quality' [given to Moody's,] both the complete[ness] and veracity, was deteriorating." |1213|
In 2007, Fitch Ratings decided to conduct a review of some mortgage loan files to evaluate the impact of poor lending standards on loan quality. On November 28, 2007, Fitch issued a report entitled, "The Impact of Poor Underwriting Practices and Fraud in Subprime RMBS Performance." After reviewing a "sample of 45 subprime loans, targeting high CLTV [combined loan to value] [and] stated documentation loans, including many with early missed payments," Fitch reported that it decided to summarize information about the impact of fraud, as well as lax lending standards, on the mortgages. Fitch explained: "[t]he result of the analysis was disconcerting at best, as there was the appearance of fraud or misrepresentation in almost every file." |1214|
To address concerns about fraud and lax underwriting standards generally, S&P considered a potential policy change in November 2007 that would give an evaluation of the quality of services provided by third parties more influence in the ratings process. An S&P managing director wrote:
"We believe our analytical process and rating opinions will be enhanced by an increased focus on the role third parties can play in influencing loan default and loss performance. … [W]e'd like to set up meetings where specific mortgage originators, investment banks and mortgage servicers are discussed. We would like to use these meetings to share ideas with a goal of determining whether loss estimates should be altered based upon your collective input." |1215|
An S&P employee who received this announcement wrote to a colleague: "Should have been doing this all along." |1216|
S&P later decided that its analysts would also review specific loan originators that supplied loans for the pool. Loans issued by originators with a reputation for issuing poor quality loans, including loans marked by fraud, would be considered a greater credit risk and ratings for the pool containing the loans would reflect that risk. S&P finalized that policy in November 2008. |1217| As part of its ratings analysis, S&P now ranks mortgage originators based on the past historical performance of their loans and factors the assessment of the originator into credit enhancement levels for RMBS. |1218|
In September 2007, Moody's solicited industry feedback on proposed enhancements to its evaluation of nonprime RMBS securitizations, including the need for third-party due diligence reviews of the loans in a securitization. Moody's wrote: "To improve the accuracy of loan information upon which it relies, Moody's will look for additional oversight by a qualified third party." |1219| In November 2008, Moody's issued a report detailing its enhanced approach to RMBS originator assessments. |1220|
1036. Prepared statement of Raymond W. McDaniel, Moody's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, "Credit Rating Agencies and the Financial Crisis," before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Cong.Hrg. 110- 155 (10/22/2008), at 1 (hereinafter "10/22/2008 McDaniel prepared statement" ). [Back]
1037. See, e.g., 6/24/2010 supplemental response from S&P to the Subcommittee, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 108 (4/20/2005 Subprime Lenders: Basking in the Glow of A Still- Benign Economy, but Clouds Forming on the Horizon" S&P; 9/13/2005 "Simulated Housing Market Decline Reveals Defaults Only in Lowest- Rated U.S. RMBS Transactions," S&P; and 1/19/2006 "U.S. RMBS Market Still Robust, But Risks Are Increasing and Growth Drivers Are Softening" S&P). "Housing Market Downturn in Full Swing," Moody's Economy.com (10/4/2006); 1/18/2007 "Special Report: Early Defaults Rise in Mortgage Securitization," Moody's ; and 9/21/2007 "Special Report: Moody's Subprime Mortgage Servicer Survey on Loan Modifications," Moody's. See 10/22/2008 McDaniel prepared statement at 13- 14. In addition, in March 2007 Moody's warned of the possible effect that downgrades of subprime mortgage backed securities might have on its structured finance CDOs. See 3/2007 "The Impact of Subprime Residential Mortgage- Backed Securities on Moody's- Rated Structured Finance CDOs: A Preliminary Review," Moody's. [Back]
1038. "Economic Research: Who Will be Left Holding the Bag?" S&P's RatingsDirect (9/12/2005). [Back]
1039. 7/22/2005 email from Michael Blomquist (Resource Realty) to Susan Barnes (S&P), "Washington Mutual," Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 45. [Back]
1040. 9/2/2006 email from Robert Mackey to Richard Koch, "Nightmare Mortgages," Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 46a. [Back]
1041. 9/5/2006 email from Michael Gutierrez to Richard Koch and Edward Highland, "RE: Nightmare Mortgages," Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 46b. [Back]
1042. 9/29/2006 email from Michael Gutierrez, Director at S&P, PSI- S&P- RFN- 000029. [Back]
1043. 8/7/2006 email from Richard Koch, Director at S&P, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 1d. [Back]
1044. 10/20/2006 email from Michael Gutierrez to Richard Koch and others, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 47. [Back]
1045. 10/26/2006 email from Ernestine Warner to Robert Pollsen, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 48. [Back]
1046. 3/9/2007 email from KP Rajan, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 51. See also 2/14/2006 email from Robert Pollsen, PSIS& P- RFN- 000038 (forwarding "Coming Home to Roost," Barron's (2/13/2006), which includes the sentences "The red- hot U.S. housing market may be fast approaching its date with destiny .... much anxiety is being focused on a looming ‘ reset problem. '" ); see also 3/25/2007 S&P internal email chain, PSI- S&P- RFN- 000006 (forwarding "Slow- Motion Train Wreck Picks Up Speed," Barron's (3/26/2007)). 3/26/2007 Moody's internal email, PSI- S&PRFN- 000003 (forwarding "Slow- Motion Train Wreck Picks Up Speed," Barron's (3/26/2007)); 10/19/2006 Moody's internal email, PSI- MOODYS- RFN- 000009 (forwarding "More Home Loans Go Sour — Though New Data Show Rising Delinquencies, Lenders Continue to Loosen Mortgage Standards," The Wall Street Journal (10/19/2006)); 9/6/2006 Moody's internal email, PSI- MOODYS- RFN- 000001 (forwarding "The No- Money- Down Disaster." Barron's (8/21/2006)). [Back]
1047. "Housing Bubble Concerns and the Outlook for Mortgage Credit Quality," FDIC Outlook (Spring 2004), available at http://www.fdic.gov/bank/analytical/regional/ro20041q/na/infocus.html. [Back]
1048. 6/2005 "Survey of Credit Underwriting Practices," report prepared by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, at 6, available at http://www.occ.gov/publications/publications-by-type/survey-credit-underwriting/pubsurvey-cred-under-2005.pdf. [Back]
1049. "FBI: Mortgage Fraud Becoming an ‘ Epidemic, '" USA Today (9/17/2004). [Back]
1050. FY 2004 "Financial Institution Fraud and Failure Report," prepared by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, available at http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/fiff_04. [Back]
1051. Prepared statement of Chris Swecker, Assistant Director of the Criminal Investigative Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation, "Mortgage Fraud and Its Impact on Mortgage Lenders," before the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity, Cong.Hrg. 108- 116 (10/7/2004), at 2. [Back]
1052. "Financial Crimes Report to the Public: Fiscal Year 2006, October 1, 2005 – September 30, 2006," prepared by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, available at http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/fcs_report2006/financial-crimes-report-to-the-public-2006-pdf/view. [Back]
1053. 4/2007 "Ninth Periodic Mortgage Fraud Case Report to Mortgage Bankers Association," prepared by the Mortgage Asset Research Institute, LLC, at 10. [Back]
1054. "Business Library – The Housing Bubble," University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries, http://www.uflib.ufl.edu/cm/business/cases/housing_bubble.htm. [Back]
1055. "Rating the Rating Agencies," Treasury and Risk Management (7/1995). [Back]
1056. 3/19/2000 email from Catherine Gerst to Debra Perry, Moody's Chief Administrative Officer, PSI- MOODYSRFN- 000039. [Back]
1057. 5/2/2002 Moody's SFG 2002 Associate Survey, prepared by Metrus Group, at 4, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 92a. [Back]
1058. 12/1/2003 email from Brian Clarkson to Noel Kirnon, Managing Director of Real Estate and Derivatives Group, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 15. [Back]
1059. Subcommittee interview of Mark Froeba (10/27/2010). See also 6/2/2010 statement of Mark Froeba submitted by request to the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. [Back]
1060. Michalek prepared statement, at 13- 14. [Back]
1061. 6/2/2010 statement of Mark Froeba, submitted by request to the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, at 4. [Back]
1062. Prepared Statement of Eric Kolchinsky, Former Managing Director at Moody's Investor Service, April 23, 2010 Subcommittee Hearing, at 1. [Back]
1063. Id. at 2 . [Back]
1064. 10/5/2007 email from Sunil Surana to Yuri Yoshizawa, and others, "RE: 3Q Market Coverage- CDO," Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 24a. [Back]
1065. Id. [Back]
1066. Prepared statement of Frank Raiter, Former Managing Director at S&P, April 23, 2010 Subcommittee Hearing, at 5. [Back]
1067. 8/17/2004 email from S&P manager, "RE: SF CIA: CDO methodology invokes reactions," Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 3 [emphasis in the original]. [Back]
1068. 3/23/2005 email from Frank Parisi to Thomas Warrack, and others, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 5. [Back]
1069. 6/14/2005 email from Frank Parisi to Frank Bruzese, and others, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 6. [Back]
1070. 11/9/2004 email from Gale Scott to Perry Inglis, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 4. [Back]
1071. 8/8/2006 email from Michael Gutierrez to Richard Koch, "RE: Loss Severity vs gross/net proceeds," Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 14. [Back]
1072. 10/21/2007 Moody's internal email, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 24b. Although this email is addressed to and from the CEO, the Chief Credit Officer told the Subcommittee that he wrote the memorandum attached to the email. Subcommittee interview of Andy Kimball (4/15/2010). [Back]
1073. Id. [Back]
1074. Id. [Back]
1075. 5/3/2006 email from Robert Morelli (UBS) to Peter Kambeseles (S&P), Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 11. [Back]
1076. Id. [Back]
1077. 5/23/2007 email from Claire Robert to Lapo Guadagnuolo, and others, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 31. [Back]
1078. 5/25/2004 email from Yu- Tsung Chang to Joanne Rose and Pat Jordan, "Competition with Moody's," Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 2. [Back]
1079. 2/16/2006 email from Edward Tang (Citigroup) to Lina Kharnak (S&P), Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 8. [Back]
1080. 5/6/2005 email from Robert Gartner (Nomura) to Thomas Warrack (S&P), PSI- S&P- RFN- 000024- 28, at 28. [Back]
1081. 4/12/2007 email from Patrick DellaValle (SunTrust) to David Teicher (Moody's), and others, PSI- MOODYSRFN- 000032. [Back]
1082. 3/8/2007 email from Karen Ramallo to Yakov Krayn, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 22. [Back]
1083. 2/20/2007 email from Mark DiRienz (Moody's) to Robert Miller (Chase), PSI- MOODYS- RFN- 000031. See also 4/27/2006 email from Karen Ramallo to Wioletta Frankowicz and others, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 18 ( "For previous synthetic deals this wasn ' t as much of an issue since the ARM % wasn ' t as high, and … at this point, I would feel comfortable keeping the previously committed levels since such a large adjustment would be hard to explain to Bear . … So unless anybody objects, Joe and I will tell Bear that the levels stand where they were previously." ). [Back]
1084. 5/23/2007 email from Yvonne Fu to Arnaud Lasseron, PSI- MOODYS- RFN- 000013. [Back]
1085. 2/23/2006 email from Errol Arne to Martin Kennedy, and others, "Request for prioritization," PSI- S&P- RFN- 000032. [Back]
1086. 8/1/2006 email from Elwyn Wong (S&P) to Shawn Stoval (Morgan Stanley) and Belinda Ghetti (S&P), Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 13. [Back]
1087. 6/28/2007 email from Pooja Bharwani (Moody's) to Frank Li (Citigroup), and others, PSI- MOODYS- RFN- 000019. [Back]
1088. 4/23/2006 email from Chris Meyer (S&P) to Geoffrey Williams and David Gerst (Goldman Sachs), and others, PSI- S&P- RFN- 000002. See also 5/1/2006 email from Matthew Bieber (Goldman Sachs) to Malik Rashid (S&P), and others, PSI- S&P- RFN- 000008- 11, at 9 ( "GS has not agreed to this hold back provision in any of our previous transactions (including the ABACUS deal that just closed last week) - and we cannot agree to it in this deal." ). [Back]
1089. 5/1/2006 email from Richard Michalek to Yuri Yoshizawa, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 19; see also 5/23/2007 email from Eric Kolchinsky to Yuri Yoshizawa and Yvonne Fu, PSI- MOODYS- RFN- 000011 ( "In that case, should we exclude any mention of the one notch rule from the general communication? Instead, we should give comm[ittee] chairs the discretion to apply the rule as they see fit. In this way, there is less of a chance of it getting back to the bankers as a ‘ general rule ' . They are more likely to know it as something that only applies, as a concession, on the deal that they are working on." ). [Back]
1090. See 6/11/2007 email exchange between Merrill Lynch and Moody's, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 23. [Back]
1091. Id. [Back]
1092. Id. [Back]
1093. Id. [Back]
1094. Id. [Back]
1095. 6/12/2007 email from Moody's to Merrill Lynch, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 23 Addendum. [Back]
1096. 3/30/2007 email from Lois Cheng, "Vertical ABS CDO 2007- 1, Ltd. UBS," Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 94c. [Back]
1097. 4/5/2007 instant message exchange between Brian Trant and Shannon Mooney, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 94a. [Back]
1098. 4/5/2007 email from Bujiang Hu to Peter Kambeseles, and others, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 94b [emphasis in the original]. [Back]
1099. 4/5/2007 email from James Halprin to Bujiang Hu and others, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 94b. [Back]
1100. 4/5/2007 email from Lois Cheng to Brian O ' Keefe and Peter Kambeseles, and others, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 94c. [Back]
1101. 4/6/2007 email from Lois Cheng to Brian O ' Keefe and Peter Kambeseles, and others, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 94c. [Back]
1102. For a similar situation involving an RMBS, see 2/8/2006 email exchange among S&P analysts, "EMC Compares," PSI- SP- 000362, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 7 (describing how an analyst worked to find a way to reduce the size of the cushion that an RMBS had to set aside to protect its investment grade tranches from loss, and found that changing the way first loan payment dates were reported in LEVELS would produce a slight reduction; a colleague responded: "I don ' t think this is enough to satisfy them. What's the next step?" ). [Back]
1103. 4/2007 Moody's internal memorandum from Saiyid Islam and Peter Hallenbeck to the Derivatives Rating Committee, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 94d. Moody's gave investment grade ratings to seven of the eight tranches it rated, including AAA ratings to the top three tranches. [Back]
1104. Moody's downgrade of Vertical ABS CDO 2007- 1, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 94k. [Back]
1105. Id.; 10/25/2007 "Moody's Downgrades Vertical ABS CDO 2007- 1 Notes; Further Downgrades Possible," Moody's; 1/14/2008 and 6/23/2008 "Moody's downgrades ratings of Notes issued by Vertical ABS CDO 2007- 1, Ltd.," Moody's; 9/11/2008 "Moody's withdraws ratings of Notes issued by 34 ABS CDOs," Moody's. Moody's downgraded all but the super senior Vertical tranche to junk status in October 2007, just six months after giving investment grade ratings to seven of the eight tranches it rated. See 10/24/2007 email from Jonathan Polansky to Moody's colleagues, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 94f. S&P followed suit on November 14, 2007, downgrading all but two of Vertical's tranches, with five falling to junk status. 11/14/2007 "112 Ratings Lowered on 21 U.S. Cash Flow, Hybrid CDOs of ABS; $4.689B In Securities Affected," S&P. [Back]
1106. 9/11/2008 "Moody's Withdraws Ratings of Notes Issued by 34 ABS CDOs," Moody's. [Back]
1107. 8/28/2007 email from Evan Malik (UBS) to Hugh Corcoran (UBS) regarding Pursuit Partners ' purchase of Vertical securities, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 94n. [Back]
1108. Michalek prepared statement at 16. [Back]
1109. Prepared statement of Gary Witt, Former Managing Director, Moody's Investors Service, submitted by request to the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (6/2/2010) at 6- 7. [Back]
1110. April 23, 2010 Subcommittee Hearing at 64. Employees from both Moody's and S&P confirmed this abusive conduct in interviews with the Subcommittee, which was also corroborated in emails. Subcommittee interviews of Richard Michalek (1/18/2010) and Eric Kolchinsky (10/7/2009). See also, e.g., 4/6/2007 email from Lois Cheng to Brian O ' Keefe and Peter Kambeseles, and others, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 94c. [Back]
1111. April 23, 2010 Subcommittee Hearing at 65. [Back]
1112. Id. at 64, 66. [Back]
1113. Subcommittee interview of Andy Kimball (4/15/2010). See also 2007 Moody's draft "2007 Operating Plan: Public Finance, Global Structured Finance and Investor Services," prepared by Brian Clarkson, MIS- OCIE- RMBS- 0419014- 53, at 25. In a draft presentation Clarkson wrote: "Challenges for 2007 … Competitive issues (ex. Rating inflation, successful rating shopping ....)." He also noted in the presentation "increased ‘ rating shopping ' by market participants." [Back]
1114. 9/10/2007 Transcript of Raymond McDaniel at Moody's MD Town Hall Meeting, at 63, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 98. [Back]
1115. April 23, 2010 Subcommittee Hearing at 66- 67. [Back]
1116. April 23, 2010 Subcommittee Hearing at 100- 101. [Back]
1117. 9/30/2007 email from Belinda Ghetti to David Tesher, and others, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 33. [Back]
1118. See 2008 SEC Examination Report for Moody's Investor Services Inc., PSI- SEC (Moodys Exam Report)- 14- 0001- 16, at 3. [Back]
1119. 2/2007 "Shorting Home Equity Mezzanine Tranches," Deutsche Bank Securities Inc., DBSI_PSI_EMAIL01988773- 845, at 776. See also 6/4/2007 FDIC memorandum from Daniel Nuxoll to Stephen Funaro, "ALLL Modeling at Washington Mutual," FDIC_WAMU_000003743- 52, at 47 ( "Virtually none of the data is drawn from an episode of severe house price depreciation. Even introductory statistics textbooks caution against drawing conclusions about possibilities that are outside the data. A model based on data from a relatively benign period in the housing market cannot produce reliable inferences about the effects of a housing price collapse." ). [Back]
1120. "Triple- A Failure," New York Times (4/27/2008). [Back]
1121. Prepared statement of Vickie Tillman, S&P Executive Vice President, "The Role of Credit Rating Agencies in the Structured Finance Market," before U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance and Government Sponsored Enterprises, Cong.Hrg. 110- 62 (9/27/2007), S&P SEN- PSI 0001945- 71, at 46- 47. [Back]
1122. 2/24/2011 Response from Moody's to Subcommittee questions. The Subcommittee asked Moody's to provide information on any new data it had received or purchased for its models from 2002 to 2007. [Back]
1123. 11/3/2000 email from Brian Clarkson to David Zhai and others, PSI- MOODYS- RFN- 000007. [Back]
1124. 11/13/2000 email from Jay Siegel to Brian Clarkson, PSI- MOODYS- RFN- 000007. [Back]
1125. 2/17/2011 and 2/24/2011 Responses from Moody's to Subcommittee questions. [Back]
1126. 4/7/2006 "Moody's Investor Service, BES- 2005: Presentation to Derivatives Team," Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 92b. [Back]
1127. 2/24/2011 Response from Moody's to Subcommittee questions. Moody's also advised the Subcommittee that it "generally receives, as part of the surveillance process, updated loan performance statistics on a monthly basis for the collateral pools of the transactions it has rated." Moody's told the Subcommittee that its surveillance data tracked the deterioration in the RMBS market, and its rating committee members were able to incorporate that information into their rating considerations. 2/17/2011 Response from Moody's to Subcommittee questions. [Back]
1128. 2/10/2011 Response from S&P to Subcommittee questions. [Back]
1129. Id. [Back]
1130. Id. [Back]
1131. Id. S&P also told the Subcommittee that, between 2001 and 2008, it updated its RMBS model multiple times, using other types of data and analytical improvements. 2/2010 Standard & Poor's Presentation on LEVELS, PSIStandard& Poor's- 04- 0001 – 0025, at 6. [Back]
1132. Subcommittee interviews of Frank Raiter (7/15/2009 and 4/8/2010). [Back]
1133. Id. See also prepared statement of Frank Raiter, "Credit Rating Agencies and the Financial Crisis," before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Cong.Hrg. 110- 155 (10/22/2008), at 5. [Back]
1134. Prepared statement of Frank Raiter, "Credit Rating Agencies and the Financial Crisis," before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Cong.Hrg. 110- 155 (10/22/2008), at 5- 6. [Back]
1135. Id. [Back]
1136. Id. at 6. [Back]
1137. Subcommittee interview of Richard Gugliada, Former Head of S&P's CDO Ratings Group (10/9/2009). [Back]
1138. Id. [Back]
1139. 3/20/2006 email from Isaac Efrat (Aladdin Capital Management LLC) to David Tesher (S&P), Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 26 [emphasis in original]. [Back]
1140. Subcommittee interview of Gary Witt, Former Managing Director, Moody's Investors Service (10/29/2009). [Back]
1141. 6/2/2010 Statement of Gary Witt, Former Managing Director, Moody's Investors Service, submitted by request to the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, at 11. [Back]
1142. Id. at 21. [Back]
1143. 5/8/2007 instant message exchange between Shannon Mooney and Andrew Loken, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 30b. [Back]
1144. 5/12/2005 email from Michael Drexler to Kenneth Cheng and others, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 10c. In a similar email, S&P employees discuss questionable and inconsistent application of criteria. 8/7/2007 email from Andrew Loken to Shannon Mooney, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 96a ( "Back in May, the deal had 2 assets default, which caused it to fail. We tried some things, and it never passed anything I ran. Next thing I know, I ' m told that because it had gone effective already, it was surveillance's responsibility, and I never heard about it again. Anyway, because of that, I never created a new monitor." ). [Back]
1145. 3/14/2007 email from Calvin Wong to Tom Gillis, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 29. See also 2008 SEC Examination Report for Standard and Poor's Ratings Services, Inc., PSI- SEC (S&P Exam Report)- 14- 0001- 24, at 6- 7 ( "[C]ertain significant aspects of the rating processes and the methodologies used to rate RMBS and CDOs were not always disclosed, or were not fully disclosed … . [S]everal communications by S&P employees to outside parties related to the application of unpublished criteria, such as ‘ not all our criteria is published. [F]or example, we have no published criteria on hybrid deals, which doesn ' t mean that we have no criteria, '" citing an 8/2006 email from the S&P Director of the Analytical Pool for the Global CDO Group.). [Back]
1146. 5/24/2007 email from Lapo Guadagnuolo to Belinda Ghetti, and others, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 31. [Back]
1147. 10/21/2007 Moody's internal email, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 24b. Although this email is addressed to and from the CEO, the Chief Credit Officer told the Subcommittee that he wrote the memorandum attached to the email. Subcommittee interview of Andy Kimball (4/15/2010). [Back]
1148. 10/19/2006 email from Graham Jones (Morgan Stanley) to Yuri Yoshizawa (Moody's) and others, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 37. See 2008 SEC Examination Report for Moody's Investor Services Inc., PSI- SEC (Moodys Exam Report)- 14- 0001- 16, at 5 ( "[C]ertain significant aspects of the rating processes and the methodologies used to rate RMBS and CDOs were not always disclosed, or were not fully disclosed . …" ). [Back]
1149. 6/28/2007 email from Yi Zhang to Warren Kornfeld and others, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 39. [Back]
1150. 11/28/2007 email from Roger Stein to Andrew Kimball and Michael Kanef, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 44. [Back]
1151. 6/20/2006 email from Paul Mazataud to Noel Kirnon, MIS- OCIE- RMBS- 0035460 [emphasis in original]. [Back]
1152. 1/16/2007 email from Kishore Yalamanchili (BlackRock) to Scott Mason (S&P), Glenn Costello (Fitch Ratings), and others, PSI- S&P- RFN- 000044. [Back]
1153. 12/15/2006 email from Chris Meyer to Belinda Ghetti and Nicole Billick, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 27. [Back]
1154. 1/17/2007 email from Monica Perelmuter to Kyle Beauchamp, and others, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 28. [Back]
1155. 4/5/2007 instant message exchange between Shannon Mooney and Rahul Dilip Shah, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 30a. [Back]
1156. These model improvements still significantly underestimated subprime risk as is evidenced by the sheer number of downgrades that occurred after the model improvements for securities issued in 2006 and 2007. [Back]
1157. 3/19/2007 "Structured Finance Ratings - Overview and Impact of the Residential Subprime Market," S&P Monthly Review Meeting, at S&P SEC- PSI 0001473, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 52b. [Back]
1158. Prepared statement of Michael Kanef, Group Managing Director of Moody's Asset Backed Finance Rating Group, "The Role and Impact of Credit Rating Agencies on the Subprime Credit Markets," before the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, S.Hrg. 110- 931 (9/26/2007), at 17. [Back]
1159. 6/2006 S&P internal email exchange, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 72; and 3/31/2008 Moody's Structured Finance Credit Committee Meeting Notes, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 80. See also 7/16/2007 Moody's email from Joseph Snailer to Qingyu Liu, and others, PSI- MOODYS- RFN- 000029 (when an analyst sought guidance on whether to use the new or old methodology for testing unrated tranches of outstanding deals, she was advised: "The ratings you are generating should reflect what we would have rated the deals when they were issued knowing what we knew then and using the methodology in effect then (ie, using the OC model we built then." ); 6/1/2007 email from Moody's Senior Director in Structured Finance, "RE: Financial Times inquiry on transparency of assumptions," MIS- OCIERMBS- 0364942- 46, at 43. [Back]
1160. 6/23/2006 email from Thomas Warrack to Pat Jordan and Rosario Buendia, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 72 [emphasis in original]. Despite this 2006 email, the former head of S&P's RMBS Group, Frank Raiter, told a House Committee: "At S&P, there was an ongoing, often heated discussion that using the ratings model in surveillance would allow for re- rating every deal monthly and provide significantly improved measures of current and future performance." Prepared statement of Frank L. Raiter, "Credit Rating Agencies and the Financial Crisis," before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Cong.Hrg. 110- 155 (10/22/2008), at 7. [Back]
1161. 7/3/2007 S&P email from Cliff Griep to Ernestine Warner and Stephen Anderberg, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 32 [emphasis in original]. [Back]
1162. 10/6/2005 email from Roy Chun, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 62. [Back]
1163. Prepared statement of Frank Raiter, Former Managing Director at Standard & Poor's, April 23, 2010 Subcommittee Hearing, at 2; and Subcommittee interviews of S&P confidential sources (2/24/2010) and (4/9/2010). [Back]
1164. See, e.g., 3/31/2008 Moody's Structured Finance Credit Committee Meeting Notes, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 80 ( "Currently, following a methodology change, Moody's does not re- evaluate every outstanding, affected rating. Instead, it reviews only those obligations that it considers most prone to multi- notch rating changes, in light of the revised rating approach. This decision to selectively review certain ratings is made due to resource constraints." ). [Back]
1165. 10/20/2006 email from Greg Lippmann (Deutsche Bank) to Craig Carlozzi (Mast Capital), DBSI_PSI_EMAIL01774820. [Back]
1166. The CDO models were simulation models dependent upon past credit ratings for the assets they included plus various performance and correlation assumptions. See earlier discussion of these models. [Back]
1167. 7/12/2005 S&P internal email, "Delay in Evaluator 3.0 incorporation in EOD/CDOi platform," PSI- S&P- RFN- 000017. [Back]
1168. 6/21/2005 email from Pat Jordan to Cliff Griep, "RE: new CDO criteria," Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 60. See also 3/21/2006 email from an S&P senior official, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 71. ( "FYI. Just sat on a panel with Frderic Drevon, my opposite number at Moody's who fielded a question on what happens to old transactions when there is a change to rating methodologie[s]. The official Moody's line is that there is no ‘ grandfathering ' and that old transactions are reviewed using the new criteria. However, the ‘ truth is that we do not have the resources to review thousands of transactions, so we focus on those that we feel are more at risk. '" ). [Back]
1169. 11/23/2005 email from Brian Neer (Morgan Stanley) to Elwyn Wong (S&P), Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 64. [Back]
1170. 11/23/2005 email from Elwyn Wong to Andrea Bryan, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 64. [Back]
1171. 5/19/2006 email from Stephen Anderberg to Pat Jordan, David Tesher, and others, PSI- S&P- RFN- 000021 [emphasis in original]. [Back]
1172. 3/12/2007 email from Cliff Griep to Tom Gillis, and others, PSI- S&P- RFN- 000015. [Back]
1173. 7/15/2007 email from Tom Gillis to Valencia Daniels, "Special APB meeting," Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 74. [Back]
1174. April 23, 2010 Subcommittee Hearing at 35. [Back]
1175. 5/2/2007 email from Zach Buchwald (Morgan Stanley Executive Director) to William May (Moody's Managing Director), and others, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 76. See also 4/11/2007 email from Moody's Managing Director to Calyon, PSI- MOODYS- RFN- 000040. [Back]
1176. Subcommittee interview of Greg Lippmann, Former Managing Director and Global Head of Trading of CDOs for Deutsche Bank (10/18/2010). Mr. Lippmann said he thought the agencies ' decision not to retest existing securities was "ridiculous." [Back]
1177. 2008 SEC Examination Report for Moody's Investor Services Inc., PSI- SEC (Moodys Exam Report)- 14- 0001- 16, at 4. [Back]
1178. 2008 SEC Examination Report for Standard and Poor's Ratings Services, Inc., PSI- SEC (S&P Exam Report)- 14- 0001- 24, at 3. [Back]
1179. Prepared statement of Frank Raiter, Former Managing Director at Standard & Poor's, April 23, 2010 Subcommittee Hearing, at 1- 2. [Back]
1180. April 23, 2010 Subcommittee Hearing at 96- 97. [Back]
1181. Id. at 97. [Back]
1182. 5/2/2002 "Moody's SFG 2002 Associate Survey: Highlights of Focus Groups and Interviews," Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 92a at 6. [Back]
1183. 4/7/2006 "Moody's Investor Service, BES- 2005: Presentation to Derivatives Team," Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 92b. [Back]
1184. 5/1/2006 email from Richard Michalek to Yuri Yoshizawa, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 19. [Back]
1185. Michalek prepared statement at 20, n.29. [Back]
1186. 5/23/2007 email from Eric Kolchinsky to Yvonne Fu and Yuri Yoshizawa, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 91. [Back]
1187. April 23, 2010 Subcommittee Hearing at 97. [Back]
1188. Id. [Back]
1189. 12/3/2004 email from Gail McDermott to Abe Losice and Pat Jordan, PSI- S&P- RFN- 000034. [Back]
1190. 5/2/2006 email from Gale Scott to Diane Cory, "RE: Change in scheduling/Coaching sessions/Other stuff," PSIS& P- RFN- 000012. [Back]
1191. 10/31/2006 S&P internal email, "A CDO Director resignation," PSI- S&P- RFN- 000001. [Back]
1192. Subcommittee interview of Susan Barnes (3/18/2010). [Back]
1193. 7/9/2007 email to Yuri Yoshizawa, "FW: CDO Surveillance Note 7_071.doc," PSI- MOODYS- RFN- 000022. [Back]
1194. During an interview, the head of RMBS surveillance advised that she believed she was adequately resourced and prioritized her review of outstanding securities by focusing on 2006 and 2007 vintages that had performance problems. Subcommittee interview of Ernestine Warner (3/11/2010). [Back]
1195. 4/28/2006 email from Ernestine Warner to Roy Chun, and others, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 82. [Back]
1196. 6/1/2006 emails from Ernestine Warner to Roy Chun, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 83. [Back]
1197. 12/20/2006 email from Ernestine Warner to Gail Houston, Roy Chun, others, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 84. [Back]
1198. 2/3/2007 email from Ernestine Warner to Peter D ' Erchia, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 86 [emphasis in original]. [Back]
1199. 4/24/2007 email from Abe Losice to Susan Barnes, "Staffing for RMBS Surveillance," Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 88. [Back]
1200. Subcommittee interview of Peter D ' Erchia (4/13/2010). [Back]
1201. 2007 Performance Evaluation for Peter D ' Erchia, S&P SEN- PSI 0007442; See also April 23, 2010 Subcommittee Hearing at 74- 75. [Back]
1202. FY 2004 "Financial Institution Fraud and Failure Report," prepared by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, available at http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/fiff_04. [Back]
1203. "FBI warns of mortgage fraud ‘ epidemic ' ," CNN.com (9/17/2004), http://articles.cnn.com/2004-09-17/justice/mortgage.fraud_1_mortgage-fraud-mortgage-industry-s-1-crisis?_s=PM:LAW. [Back]
1204. "Financial Crimes Report to the Public: Fiscal Year 2006, October 1, 2005 – September 30, 2006," prepared by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, available at http://www.fbi.gov/statsservices/ publications/fcs_report2006/financial- crimes- report- to- the- public- 2006- pdf/view. [Back]
1205. 4/2007 "Ninth Periodic Mortgage Fraud Case Report to Mortgage Bankers Association," prepared by Mortgage Asset Research Institute, LLC. [Back]
1206. See, e.g., 9/2/2006 email chain between Richard Koch, Robert Mackey, and Michael Gutierrez, "Nightmare Mortgages," Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 46a; 9/5/2006 email chain between Edward Highland, Michael Gutierrez, and Richard Koch, "Nightmare Mortgages," Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 46b; and 9/29/2006 email from Michael Gutierrez, Director of S&P, PSI- S&P- RFN- 000029. [Back]
1207. See, e.g., 6/24/2010 supplemental response from S&P to the Subcommittee, Exhibit H, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 108 (7/11/2007 "S&PCORRECT: 612 U.S. Subprime RMBS Classes Put On Watch Neg; Methodology Revisions Announced," S&P's RatingsDirect (correcting the original version issued on 7/10/2007)). [Back]
1208. See, e.g., 2008 SEC Examination Report for Moody's Investor Services Inc., PSI- SEC (Moodys Exam Report)- 14- 0001- 16, at 7; and 2008 SEC Examination Report for Standard and Poor's Ratings Services, Inc., PSI- SEC (S&P Exam Report)- 14- 0001- 24, at 11 (finding with respect to each credit rating agency that it "did not engage in any due diligence or otherwise seek to verify the accuracy and quality of the loan data underlying the RMBS pools it rated" ). [Back]
1209. Prepared statement of Frank Raiter, Former Managing Director at Standard & Poor's, April 23, 2010 Subcommittee Hearing, at 3. [Back]
1210. Subcommittee interviews of Susan Barnes (3/18/2010) and Richard Gugliada (10/9/2009). [Back]
1211. 6/24/2010 supplemental response from S&P to the Subcommittee, Exhibit H, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 108 (7/11/2007 "S&PCORRECT: 612 U.S. Subprime RMBS Classes Put On Watch Neg; Methodology Revisions Announced," S&P's RatingsDirect (correcting the original version issued on 7/10/2007)). [Back]
1212. 10/12/2007 Moody's internal email, PSI- MOODYS- RFN- 000035 (citing "Fitch CEO says fraudulent lending practices may have contributed to problems with ratings," Associated Press, and noting: "After S&P, Fitch is now blaming fraud for the impact on RMBS, at least partially." ). [Back]
1213. "Moody's: They Lied to Us," New York Times (1/25/2008), http://norris.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/01/25/moodys-they-lied-to-us/. [Back]
1214. 11/28/2007 "The Impact of Poor Underwriting Practices and Fraud in Subprime RMBS Performance," report prepared by Fitch Ratings, at 4, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 100. [Back]
1215. 11/15/2007 email from Thomas Warrack to Michael Gutierrez, and others, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 34. [Back]
1216. 11/15/2007 email from Robert Mackey to Michael Gutierrez, and others, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 34. [Back]
1217. 6/24/2010 supplemental letter from S&P to the Subcommittee, Exhibit W, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 108 (11/25/2008 "Standard & Poor's Enhanced Mortgage Originator and Underwriting Review Criteria for U.S. RMBS," S&P's RatingsDirect). [Back]
1218. Id. [Back]
1219. "Moody's Proposes Enhancements to Non- Prime RMBS Securitization," Moody's (9/25/2007). [Back]
1220. "Moody's Enhanced Approach to Originator Assessments for U.S. Residential Mortgage Backed Securities (RMBS)," Moody's, Hearing Exhibit 4/23- 106 (originally issued 11/24/2008 but due to minor changes was republished on 10/5/2009). [Back]
Back to Contents C. Mass Credit Rating Downgrades E. Preventing Inflated Credit Ratings
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