Connecticut AG Investigating Rating Agencies for Thuggish Behavior

So this is how oligopolies are maintained, via extortion and threats. From the Wall Street Journal:

Connecticut’s attorney general said Friday that he has subpoenaed the nation’s three largest debt-rating agencies as part of an investigation into possible anticompetitive practices.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal confirmed that his office issued subpoenas Oct. 10 to Standard & Poors, Moody’s Investor Services and Fitch Ratings Service.

The investigation focuses on whether the credit-rating agencies are using their dominant position to unfairly raise prices or exclude competitors in violation of Connecticut’s antitrust laws, he said….

Mr. Blumenthal said Friday his investigation is reviewing allegations that some companies rated an issuer’s debt against its wishes, then ordered the issuer to pay for the service or face a possible poor rating.

His office also is reviewing whether some credit-rating agencies pressured issuers into exclusive contracts under threat of a downgrade, and whether contracts that offer a discount in return for exclusivity violate Connecticut’s antitrust laws by locking out other debt raters.


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