In the wake of the Congressional debt committee's failure to find agreement, Fitch Ratings affirmed the United States' top-notch credit rating on Monday but revised its rating outlook to "negative," down from "stable."
Ratings agency Standard & Poor's is being investigated by the U.S. Justice Department for allegedly overrating mortgage-backed securities, whose meltdown led to the 2008 financial crisis, according to two sources with knowledge of the investigation.
Just as fears about a heavy sell off in the municipal bond market seemed to be easing, Standard & Poor's issued a warning that this year could bring a potential surge in the number of downgrades of bonds issued by state and local governments.
BP seems to have an oily black thumb, streaking every company it touches during the spill, which is still gushing up to 60,000 barrels of crude a day. The next victim: a little known oil and gas exploration company named Anadarko that owns 25% of the Macondo well where the Deepwater Horizon rig was drilling.
Derivatives are largely an insiders' game. That's one conclusion to be drawn from a new report suggesting that five big banks account for an overwhelming percentage of the total market. That could be bad news for those arguing against tougher regulation of the market.
When Richard Dugas, the president and CEO of Pulte Homes Inc. recently talked about his company's $3.1 billion purchase of rival Centex Corp., he added fuel to the fire for a possible wave of consolidation in the battered homebuilding sector.
They're known as "pick-a-payment" mortgages or option ARMs, but their detractors call them pure poison. Now their default rates, which are already high, are about to explode, according to a Fitch Ratings report issued Tuesday.
Citigroup delivered yet another quarter of devastating results Friday, this time losing more than $5 billion due to troubles in its fixed-income business and higher consumer credit costs, adding it would cut an additional 9,000 jobs.
Government officials urged credit rating agencies Wednesday to rethink the way they rate municipal bonds, arguing that the current system saddles local governments and taxpayers with unnecessary costs.
The bond insurance crisis will come under congressional scrutiny Thursday as a number of high-profile players including Ambac and MBIA executives and New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer are scheduled to testify before lawmakers.
Credit markets shrugged Friday in the aftermath of a Citigroup Inc. announcement that it would rescue seven troubled investment funds - a sign of just how shaky this key area of the financial markets remains.
Stock markets have regained some of their poise on rising hopes that the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates on Tuesday. But investors appear to be looking past one key warning sign: The $2 trillion market for commercial paper remains locked up - suggesting there could be more pain ahead for borrowers around the world.
On a recent conference call with ratings agency Standard & Poor's, Steven Eisman, a managing director at hedge fund Frontpoint Partners, had a question. Referring to the agency's move to downgrade billions of dollars of mortgage-backed securities, he said, "I'd like to understand why you're making this move today and why you didn't do this many, many months ago."
Newlyweds Erik and Brandi Quam can't really afford their home. The monthly carrying costs on their two-bedroom condo in Arlington, Va. run about $2,500 a month, and they fear the bill could go higher still as their adjustable mortgage resets to higher interest rates. It's already a tight squeeze: They've taken in a roommate to help pay the bills.
The risk of default is growing for some home loans as mortgage-lending standards loosen, said Standard & Poor's Ratings Services, which responded by tightening risk criteria for those home loans, a newspaper report said Wednesday.