In a 1996 interview on PBS’s News Hour, the New
York Times Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Thomas Friedman
said: "There are two superpowers in the world today in my
opinion. There’s the United States, and
there’s Moody’s Bond Rating Service
[sic]. The United States can destroy you by dropping bombs, and
Moody’s can destroy you by downgrading your bonds.
And believe me, it’s not clear sometimes
who’s more powerful."
The main credit rating
agencies, among which Fitch Ratings, Moody’s
Investors Service and Standard & Poor’s are
dominant, have long defended their judgement calls on the
creditworthiness of the
financial institutions and
mere opinion, and seemingly nothing more.
Indeed, it could be argued that these agencies played a
crucial role in the financial crisis of 2007/08 – not