Moody's, S&P Defer Cuts on AAA Subprime, Hiding Loss - Bloomberg.com
By Mark Pittman
March 11 (Bloomberg) -- Even after downgrading almost 10,000 subprime-mortgage bonds, Standard & Poor's and Moody's Investors Service haven't cut the ones that matter most: AAA securities that are the mainstays of bank and insurance company investments.
None of the 80 AAA securities in ABX indexes that track subprime bonds meet the criteria S&P had even before it toughened ratings standards in February, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. A bond sold by Deutsche Bank AG in May 2006 is AAA at both companies even though 43 percent of the underlying mortgages are delinquent.
The prospect of losses may be holding the ratings companies back, said Frank Partnoy, a University of San Diego law professor and former Morgan Stanley banker who has been writing about the impact of credit ratings companies since 1997.
``If the 800-pound gorilla moves, it's going to crush someone, so it's not going to want to move,'' Partnoy said. ``They know they will trigger a price collapse. They are understandably reluctant.''
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