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The Five Dumbest Things on Wall Street This Week: April 27

Stocks in this article: CHK WMT BIG BP RSH

1. Ratings Ridiculousness

Egan-Jones? Really? After all this time, this is how the Securities and Exchange Commission plans to clean up the credit rating agencies, by busting Egan-Jones?

And for what again? Fudging its resume back in 2008 so it could rate asset-backed and government bonds?

As tennis great John McEnroe would say: You cannot be serious!

And Johnny Mac was once the number one player in the world. You, our dear friends at the S.E.C., are spending your supposedly limited time and resources harassing the number four credit rater, if it even ranks that high.

Certainly you must have found something untoward at one of the so-called Big Three -- Standard & Poor's, a unit of McGraw-Hill (MHP), Moody's (MCO) and Fitch -- in the four years since the financial crisis, especially considering the trio continues to control more than 90% of the market.

Seriously, unless we missed something, there has not been a real action pursued against a single member of the Big Three, despite the fact that they were primary players in the collapse of the credit market.

It was these three blind mice that were overwhelmingly responsible for blessing Wall-Street's toxic mortgage securities with triple-A ratings. And, unlike Egan-Jones, the Big Three are paid by the issuers. Egan-Jones, on the other hand, is paid by investors and is therefore independent, which is exactly the direction this industry needs to go.

Here's the crux of the case. The SEC alleges that in its July 2008 application, Egan-Jones falsely stated it had the necessary 150 asset-backed issuer ratings and 50 outstanding government issuer ratings to enable it to get into this new category of business, when it really had 14 and 9 respectively.

There you have it folks. The firm's president Sean Egan screwed up his paperwork.

No, we don't approve of what Sean did. It's a terrible thing and all. But if that's the S.E.C.'s smoking gun, well then they may as well use the next bullet to shoot us in the head, because this maneuver leaves us dumbstruck.

Written by Gregg Greenberg in New York.

Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors and reporters from holding positions in any individual stocks.
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