Another ratings agency. Woohoo?

Dan Gorenstein Jan 20, 2014
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Another ratings agency. Woohoo?

Dan Gorenstein Jan 20, 2014
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Count the big three U.S. credit rating agencies among those companies that could have been, but weren’t hurt by the financial crisis.

Moody’s, S&P, and Fitch were all accused of giving inflated ratings to mortgage investments that helped trigger the financial crisis. Yet the Big Three still control nearly 97 percent of the industry. But competition may be coming.

Five international credit ratings agencies from around the world have opened Arc Ratings. Arc’s strategy is to focus on mid-size companies in emerging markets like in Africa and India. 

“We believe we know better than the local conditions to judge about the conditions of the risk,” ARC chief executive Jose Esteves says. He adds that the big agencies cater to the world’s largest corporations and banks.

But William Cohan, author of the book, “Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World,” says breaking into the business is a long shot.

“While Arc has a chance and there is a real need to dislodge these three guys, it’s frankly like trying to dislodge OPEC out of the oil market,” he says. 

Cohan says he doesn’t expect much of a shakeup in the $5 billion U.S. credit rating business unless the federal government demands it. And Cohan says that’s a long-shot too.

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