Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Freedoms vs Responsibilities At The CRAs


For many years, I have heard that it is not free speech to yell fire in a crowded theater. Panic would ensue and people might be trampled to death making their way to the exists. This makes sense. In other words, peoples' lives trump free speech. How much is it of a stretch to say that peoples lives trump freedom of the press? Can a business exercise their right to freedom of the press to the detriment of peoples' lives?

In yesterday's post, I argued that a company or individual should not be allowed to wrap themselves in the First Amendment of our Constitution to avoid prosecution of a crime. Billions of dollars of phony (bogus) Triple-A mortgage-backed bonds flooded the bond market and were purchased by not just individuals, but by pension funds for millions of people across the United States. The damage that these credit rating agencies did to millions of people and the pension funds of state employees and teachers is massive. And, yet, there are judges that buy into the argument that the credit rating agencies are protected by the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of the press.

If we protect people in a theater from the careless exercise of freedom of speech by someone that would yell fire, does it not make sense to protect the financial security of millions of people by the careless exercise of freedom of the press. The models that were supposed to be used in the credit rating process were placed aside for the sole purpose of growing the bottom line and the earnings of these corporations. This kind of reckless behavior should not be protected by the First Amendment any more than yelling fire in a crowded theater protects someone's right to free speech.

The credit rating agencies (CRAs) have a long history of abusing their responsibilities when it comes to bond credit ratings, and the courts should consider this history of abuse in their decision, in my opinion.

Stay tuned.

P.S. I am not an attorney. I have never been an attorney. I have no desire to become an attorney. I write a blog, period.

1 comment:

Robert said...

It does seem like the credit rating agencies have breached the position of trust that the federal government has place upon them. I have read places that a lot of banks and bonds are required to get ratings from them. If these ratings are bogus, the credit rating agencies should loose the endorsement that the government and the public places in them.