ENGLISH VERSION / Some questions to Moody's

The 13 June downgrade started a dovetail chain: yesterday night Moody's decided new cuts to banks, cities and Districts. In the meanwhile, the Trani’s Public Prosecutor’s Office investigates the agency’s activities that allegedly would have been detrimental to the Italian system. But who is behind our Country’s continual downgrades? What is the rationale such decisions are based on? Who are exactly the analysts evaluating the economic weight of Italy? Since over a month we have been trying to ask these questions to Moody’s top levels. So far we did not get any answer. Why is that?

While the Trani’s Public Prosecutor’s Office continues the investigation on the rating’s agencies whose actions, according to some consumer associations would have damaged the Italian system, Moody's continues – relentlessly – to sign downgrades, negative outlooks and cuts to the sovereign debt, to banks and to local entities of Italy. It is certainly not a secret that the USA agency’s hatchet, leads the financial institutions to "snub" investments in the government securities at risk, to the point of widening the gap between the Italian ten-year Btp and the German Bund, making investments disadvantageous and making of Affairs Square a “tasty morsel” for International speculation.

Who is behind the decisions that cripple the Italian growth? Who takes such important decisions? What is the yardstick being used? And, above all, based on what timing? Such questions naturally arose when, last month, the news was spreading that the Council’s president Mario Monti would have been part of the “Senior European advisory council”, just when the rating agencies attacked the Italian economy, so contributing to the fall of the Berlusconi’s cabinet. Exactly in that circumstance we time contacted Moody's to clear the premier’s position. The responsibility started at once getting bounced: while Palazzo Chigi denied the news, via press agencies, Moody's top levels bounced us between the London’s and Rome’s offices. The answer (very terse) only came several days later: “The Senior European Advisory Council of Moody’s contributed to deepen our understanding of the financial European context and did not at all influence our rating’s evaluations”. Nothing else. A vague, sharp announcement that did not in the slightest answered the questions we had asked of the agency’s press office on behalf of our readers.

Therefore, we are trying again. Because, from private agencies forever demanding clearness on accounts, we do expect clearness on their actions and on the persons deciding our financial future. The point was non any longer knowing when and for how long Monti has been part of the “Senior European advisory council”. The questions are many: what were Monti’s functions within Moody's? What actually means for a rating agency being engaged in "a deepening of the understanding of the financial European context"? And again, who are the members of the board handling the rating of the European Countries? Who replaced Monti within the board? None of these questions has found an answer in more than a month. In the meanwhile, however, the Trani’s Public Prosecutor’s Office la Procura di Trani completed the investigation on two persons belonging to the rating agency accused by the public prosecutor Michele Ruggiero. “The analysts Abercromby and Wassemberg intentionally fed the markets slanted and twisted (and therefore altered) information”, wrote a few weeks ago the public prosecutor, stressing the “timings particular choice” and “the use of leading, ambiguous and alarming techniques by topic”. The investigation, that had as a starting point the complaints of Adusbef and Federconsumatori, accuses Moody's of “having spread false, groundless or at least imprudent judgments on the Italian economic-financial and banking system, giving shape to a market’s manipulation”. On the two managers investigated, Ross Abercromby (vice president and senior analyst) and Johannes Wassemberg (managing director Financial Institutions), crimes such as rigging the market and market manipulation having more than an aggravating circumstance are mentioned.

After the heavy accusations of the Trani’s Public Prosecutor’s Office and the continual downgrades that, even yesterday, hit several Italian local entities and banks, it becomes even more pressing to have from Moody's a clear cut answer. As far as we are concerned, we insist in keeping the question open: this morning too we sent (for the umpteenth time) our questions to the USA’s agency. We patiently wait for an answer.

Traduzione a cura di Laura Lesèvre