In the pantheon of financial crisis villains Fred Goodwin and the former Royal Bank of Scotland board stand tall, especially in the UK. But elsewhere in the Europe the rating agencies jostle for position. Following a less than glorious performance in the subprime debacle, their unhelpful downgrades of European sovereign debt have kept them firmly in the line of fire. Any politician on the stump in France, Italy or Greece can raise a cheer by promising retribution.
The European Commission has already shot these tiresome messengers twice. Even more stringent rules are being proposed.
While the political mood remains hostile to rating agencies – who, it must be said, have not done themselves many favours – there is a clear risk that ill-considered proposals are legislated in haste. The views of corporate and investors need to be heard before Europe rushes into new legislation. Continue reading »