2012-05-04 —

The agency brought a civil case against a tiny, iconoclastic ratings agency called Egan-Jones, run by the outspoken Sean Egan, accusing it, essentially, of filling out forms wrong... Mr. Egan's outfit gets paid by the users of his ratings; the oligopoly gets paid by the issuers whose debt is going to be rated.


This is your S.E.C., folks. It courageously assails tiny firms, and at the pace of a three-toed sloth. And when it goes after its prey, it's because it has found a box unchecked, rather than any kind of deep, systemic rot.


Promising leads on other potential wrongdoings by credit rating agencies seemingly go to the S.E.C. to die. A whistle-blower -- Eric Kolchinsky, a former Moody's executive who oversaw the firm's collateralized debt obligation ratings -- claimed that Moody's inflated ratings on a loan deal called Nine Grade Funding in January 2008 because it had already made a decision that it was going to downgrade the assets that were going into the deal. Some three years after that allegation was dropped at the door of the S.E.C., there's been no action so far on the deal.

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