Role of credit rating firms must be curbed, Paulson claims

10 May 2010

The financial system would be more stable if the influence of credit rating agencies was reduced, the previous US treasury secretary has claimed.

Hank Paulson made the comments while being quizzed about the global credit crisis by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission

He told the committee that too much faith was put in the agencies and their ratings systems before the collapse of the markets.

The former Treasury official was quoted by the Independent as saying: “I do not like the fact that we have several rating agencies that are enshrined in our securities laws and regulatory manuals.

“I think that's just a crutch, and a dangerous crutch. I don't want to have the rating agencies held up as the font of all truth."

Many economic commentators believe that ratings provided by credit agencies encouraged over investment in worthless securities, which exacerbated financial instability in the build up to the global crash.

Mr Paulson also welcomed greater regulation within the financial markets but warned that this should not be at the expense of innovation within the system.

By Jim Ottewill

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