Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Arianna Huffington: Stay Outraged Over Financial Crisis!

Arianna just published a list of things to be outraged about. Example number four:
The three big credit rating agencies -- Moody's, Standard & Poor's, and Fitch -- stand to gain hundreds of millions of dollars in the government's latest plan to ease the credit markets.

You may remember these three as primary cast members in the ensemble production that's practically destroyed our economy. Without the AAA rating these three agencies gave to billions of dollars worth of junk, we might not be where we are today.

But fear not. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke says he has looked at the models the three are using now and is "comfortable."

Not exactly the word I'd use. Especially since, as the Wall Street Journal notes, the ratings agencies are still paid by the companies whose products they're supposedly giving disinterested ratings to for the benefit of investors.

"Until the rating firms bite the bullet and develop forward-looking signals and methods," says former credit-rating analyst, Ann Rutledge, "it's going to be same old, same old, and their models can be gamed."

After all, them's the rules. And Ben Bernanke is "comfortable" with them.

I'm not. And you shouldn't be either. I know from personal experience that it's easy to become worn down by the steady drip, drip, drip of scandal after scandal after scandal. But our weariness plays perfectly into the hands of those who got us into the mess we are in (the same people, by the way, who remain in charge of Wall Street). They welcome our outrage fatigue. They are counting on it. Their future depends on it.

Which is why we need to stay outraged. Even if it means losing out on a good night's sleep. And you know how much that means to me.