EU Allowing Rating Agencies To Be Sued For Errors Should Backfire Spectacularly - Cause Massive Downgrades Across The Continent!

Reggie Middleton's picture
Reuters reports that the EU now has made it easier to sue the ratings agencies for errors they have made, as excerpted:

Michel Barnier, the European commissioner in charge of regulation who helped broker a deal on the new law, said it aimed to reduce the over-reliance on ratings and establish a civil liability regime. The new rules should make it easier to sue the agencies if they are judged to have made errors when, for example, ranking the creditworthiness of debt.

The agencies came under fire for giving top-notch AAA credit scores to debt that later unravelled and they provoked more criticism by downgrading countries at sensitive moments of the crisis. The EU PTB need to make up their collective minds. If the agencies are to correct the (purposeful) errors made in giving entities AAA ratings that didn’t deserve them, then those very same entities will (and should’ve) been downgraded at sensitive moments in the crisis. This is the kicker, and the statement really should make the EU officials regret they did this, as well as bring back true returns on fundamental analysis realistic market pricing:

The EU's executive said that the new rules ensured that a rating agency could be held liable in cases of negligence or intent that damaged an investor.

You see, if you can really sue the agencies for being wrong, slow or negligent, then the Pan-European Sovereign Debt Crisis is a civil litigators 30 year capitalized Christmas present come true (even if they are Jewish). Let’s look at how this would have played out with the Greek debt and banks which should have traded as junk nearly 3 years ago as foretold by BoomBustBlog:

  1. Lies, Damn Lies, and Sovereign Truths: Why the Euro is Destined to Collapse! It was clear all were too optimistic regarding the Greek situation.
  2. Moody’s Follows Suit Behind Our Analysis and Downgrades 4 Greek Banks Moody's downgrades after the fact, and after investor losses are taken - LAWSUITS???!!!
  3. As I Explicitly Forwarned, Greece Is Well On Its Way To Default, and Previously Published Numbers Were Waaaayyy Too Optimistic! Greece's default was a foregone conclusion easil seen on BoomBustBlog, yet the agencies didn't reflect this in ratings. LAWSUITS???!!!
  4. A Comparison of Our Greek Bond Restructuring Analysis to that of Argentina Greece's bond restructuring would have had to have been extreme (as in damn near no recovery) to have had a chance of being effective. Did the agencies tell us this? LAWSUITS???!!!!
  5. This Time Is Different As Icarus Blows Up & Burns Greece's redefault was clearly visible before they even competed their first default. This was not reflected in agencies' opinions, analysis or reporting. LAWSUITS anyone???!!!

Greece's primary balance went long term negative in 2004, save the bubble levitated year of 2006...

Greece_Primary_balanceGreece_Primary_balanceGreece_Primary_balanceGreece_Primary_balance

The primary balance looks at the structural issues a country may have.

Government expenditures have outstripped revenues ever since 2007 and have gotten worse nearly every year since, despite 3 bailouts a restructuring, austerity and a default! Simple addition and subtraction shows that there's no way in hell Greece can service its debt, defautled debt, or even its redefaulted debt or the round of debt after that. 

Greece_Primary_deficit_copyGreece_Primary_deficit_copyGreece_Primary_deficit_copyGreece_Primary_deficit_copy

We don't have to dwell in the past to prove this point either. Why hasn't Italy been dramatically downgraded? It's a wonder they finally got around to downgrading France (The Beginning Of The Great French Unwind…), after all of the evidence that I put forth - reference Italy Woes Lead To French Lows. Believe It… Let's stay on topic, about Italy? The 10 page BoomBustBlog report (subscribers, download the full report here File Icon Italy public finances projection, click here to subscribe) excerpted below is approaching 3 years old and it clearly outlined the tumult that is today's Italy and did so well in advance. My analytical staff is small in than Moody's stamp licking staff, yet somehow they fail to warn what I unequivocally cautioned on years ago. What was it did that EU official proclaim? Oh yeah... 

"The EU's executive said that the new rules ensured that a rating agency could be held liable in cases of negligence or intent that damaged an investor."

 Italy public finances projections Page 01Italy public finances projections Page 01Italy public finances projections Page 02Italy public finances projections Page 02Italy public finances projections Page 03Italy public finances projections Page 03

Subscribers (click here to subscribe) can dig in the archives for this still highly relevant and profitable Italy research:

File Icon Italy Exposure Producing Bank Risk
File Icon Italian Banking Macro-Fundamental Discussion Note

icon Sovereign Contagion Model - Retail (961.43 kB 2010-05-04 12:32:46)

File Icon Sovereign Contagion Model - Pro & Institutional

Tell me, why do you have to hear this from me versus the rating agencies? Here's the reason...

What Is More Valuable, The Opinion Of A Major Rating Agency Or The Opinion Of A Blog? Go Ahead, I DARE You To Answer!

There are many areas where ratings agenceis still are not putting enough pressure, a few of which have been pointed out at the blog:

For those who haven't seen this documentary on the rating agencies by VPRO, it is more than worth your time...

Reggie_VPRO_Ratings_agenciesReggie_VPRO_Ratings_agenciesReggie_VPRO_Ratings_agencies

Continuing my rant on the effectiveness (not) of the ratings agencies, I bring to you an interesting documentary on the rating agencies' effect on the sovereign debt crisis in Europe, produced by VPRO Tegenlicht out of Amsterdam. You can see the full video here, but only about half of it is in English. I appear in the following spots: 4:00, 22:30, 40:00...

Reggie Middleton Discussing the Rating Agencies effect on Sovereign Europe