May 15, 2010

We need to decrease the credibility asymmetry that exists in the credit information market

Sir I refer to The Lex Column writing about the religion credit rating agencies bring to the markets, with their implied aura of infallibility May 15.

One of the problems with credit ratings is that they are never sufficiently publicly debated, unless when it is too late, and when that happens then it is mostly the case of a small questioner against the mother of all father authorities in the markets.

Too often have I heard bankers ask me “Per, how on earth do you think I could convince my colleagues on the Board that the credit rating agencies were getting it so extraordinarily wrong that we should exit from what seemed to be an extraordinarily good business for us?”

In our efforts to solve the asymmetry in information we have increased the asymmetry of the credibility with respect to financial information, making it now almost impossible for divergent opinions to nudge the markets on the margin, and being only considered when the causes for the divergence become much too apparent, which is of course then much too late.

The first thing that should happen is that the credit rating agencies should be required to post, real time, all the questions and answers received with respect to every particular ratings, so to allow the market to express their viewpoints and to allow configure the necessary opinion majorities that could force the credit rating agencies to revise what they are doing.

If that Bank Director friend of mine could have referred to a public online forum where those same suspicions were uttered by others, then he would stand a much better chance of being heard.