Please Note: Blog posts are not selected, edited or screened by Seeking Alpha editors.

Agency Ratings:Teaching to the Test

As ratings became progressively more important in the credit (con) game being played by companies in the past decade, the rating agencies bent further and further backward to help companies maintain their ratings. They did so by counselling (in egregious cases, "consulting" with for pay) companies, on how best to maintain their ratings.

This defeats the whole purpose of ratings, which is to separate the strong from the weak, the solvent from the less so. In other words, there is supposed ot be a "weeding out" process.

Like a test, a rating process should be a "surprise" examination in order to catch a company in an "au natural" state. If such a process leads to a higher failure rate, so be it. Too often, it doesn't.

What passes for a "rating" proces nowadays is designed to get companies to "pass," rather than fail. In this regard, it is much like a "social" promotion process to put students in their "age appropriate" grade, whether or not it is truly academically appropriate.

Rating agencies, unlike schools, can't behave so egregiously. But they do the next worst thing, which is to help everyone "pass." They can do this by "jawboming" companies just above desired ratios, (if not revealing them outright).

That is like giving just enough coaching, guidance, or whatever, to the weakest students in a class so that they can just barely pass the test, maintaining a high pass rate for the teachers and principals. In school, it's called "teaching to the test."

An unjusiifiably high "pass rate" not tied to genuine achievement never did students any good. And a "pass rate" not tied to financial achievement doesn't do companies (or their investors) any good.