Sunday, March 28, 2010

If the bond rating agencies say it, it must be true

One of the scandals of the current recession is that the bond rating agencies gave high (often AAA) ratings to mortgage backed securities that were collateralized by underlying real estate values that were becoming more and more absurd. People who invested their savings in these securities thought they were purchasing a safe and prudent investment, but obviously that proved to be false. The ratings were misleading, and the rating agencies did not effectively do their job.

That's why I chuckle when those same ratings agencies refer to Ken Ulman's "conservative management". Ulman's approach to fiscal prudence as well as his politics are big government-SWPL-Columbia liberal. His favorite tactic of late is spend money but claim that it does not count as spending because the funds entered the bank account through some means other than taxes. For example, he recently used drug money to pay for elaborate prom parties and used interest earned on another account to give a small number of people some trees. Remember that ALL government spending is taxation. Ulman's lack of fiscal prudence is why we have a $20 million budget deficit.

Also, Ken Ulman is so afraid the angering the police union that he let police SWAT teams shoot and kill two family dogs during two separate botched raids on innocent people. Also, note that Ulman was all over the Halloween shooting UNTIL the murder charges were dropped against the suspect. Then we did not hear another word from him about it.

Trent Kittleman smartly sees the problem with Ulman's lack of fiscal restraint:

Kittleman said Thursday that although the county's AAA bond rating is great, and federal and state governments spend more than the county does, "we have got to get out of that [spending] mentality." With huge liabilities looming for retiree health care and the possibility growing that the county will have to begin paying for a growing part of teacher pensions, Howard County is facing major fiscal challenges. Even the $24,000 in confiscated drug money Ulman used to help all 12 county high schools pay for after-prom parties is indicative of the impulse to spend, she said.


Anonymous said...

laws need to be enacted to render the ratings agencies less relevant...they're the BIGGEST sham on Wall St. and Main St. is eating it up by re-financing their debt...taking up-front payments... and then paying bigtime when they're forced to terminate when interests rates begin to work against them....they get into this predicament b/c they received AAA ratings.

Freemarket said...

No, laws do not need to be enacted. We can simply ignore the rating agencies. Only people with stupid ideas want laws to enforce those ideas.

Anonymous said...

Must be true, just like the ratings preceding the 1987 crash and last year. I worked in that industry and learned to keep my assets far away from it.

Anonymous said...

Ok- you tell banks unwilling to lend credit to municipalities unless their ratings are BBB+ and above to ignore the ratings. Until the laws governing the structuring of these transactions are changed, Moodys/Fitch/S&P will continue to matter.

Your blanket statement concerning people with stupid ideas is ignorant.

Skink said...

"Remember that ALL government spending is taxation."

That must be really uncomfortable to have Milton Friedman's hand all the way up your ass like that.

Simply parroting talking heads does nothing to prove you have any foot in reality (something you tend to harshly castigate others for quite regularly).