The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) has obtained a draft version of the SEC's report on bond-rating firms and their role in the credit bubble, and some of the stuff is pretty scary.
Another wrote that "rating agencies continue to create" an "even bigger monster -- the CDO market. Let's hope we are all wealthy and retired by the time this house of cards falters. ;O)"
Yes -- complete with the smiley face. If this seems reminiscent of disgraced analyst Henry Blodget's e-mails bashing stocks he was publicly pumping during the dot-com bubble, that's because it's exactly the same. The lesson here, once again, is this: e-mails ever really get deleted permanently and, if you're being shady or doing something unethical, make a phone call, talk with the person in a dark alley, or send them a letter that they can promptly discard. Don't send an e-mail!
Of course, S&P's investment-grade ratings on CDOs stuffed with dodgy loans turned out to be wildly optimistic, and the house of cards has done more than falter -- it's brought down Bear Stearns and wreaked havoc on the economy.