The SEC is coming after the Egan-Jones Ratings Co, guns blazing. Surely it just happens to be a coincidence that the SEC has filed suit (for missing a comma in a filing) against the only ratings firm that is funded by investors rather than Wall Street banks, and also happens to be the firm that has downgraded US debt to AA?
The Securities and Exchange Commission, it seems, has finally lost its mind.
In April, motivated by what I consider pure maliciousness, the SEC initiated a “cease and desist” administrative proceeding it deemed “necessary for the protection of investors and in the public interest” against Egan-Jones Ratings Co., a privately owned, 20-person firm based in Haverford, Pennsylvania, and against its principal owner, Sean Egan…
See what happens when you attempt to inform the public of the US’ true fiscal status?
Now, incredibly, Egan-Jones is the sole rater that the SEC has decided to attack. The trouble for the firm started on July 16, 2011, when Egan-Jones downgraded the U.S.’s sovereign debt by one notch, to AA+ from AAA. Egan-Jones cited “the relatively high level of debt and the difficulty in significantly cutting spending.” Two days later, the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations contacted the firm seeking information about its rating decision. (The next month, S&P also downgraded the U.S.’s sovereign debt, but neither Moody’s nor Fitch did.)
Then, on Oct. 12, Egan-Jones received a call from the SEC notifying the firm of a Wells Notice, an indication that it was being investigated. On April 5 of this year, Egan-Jones again downgraded the U.S. sovereign debt, to AA from AA+. On April 19, leaks started emanating from the SEC that it had voted to start an “administrative law proceeding” against the firm. And on April 24, the SEC filed its complaint.
Just what does the SEC object to so vehemently about Egan- Jones? The commission claims that on its 2008 supplemental application to be a “nationally recognized” ratings firm, Egan- Jones “falsely stated” that it had already rated the credit of 150 asset-backed securities and of 50 sovereign-debt issues. The SEC claims Egan-Jones “willfully made these misstatements and omissions to conceal the fact that it had no experience issuing ratings on ABS or government issuers.” The SEC intends to fine Egan-Jones and to possibly censure Sean Egan.
Message to the ratings firms- play the game by our rules or face massive fines and personal harassment.