Credit-Rating Executives Set for Hill Testimony

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Senators will grill executives of credit-rating agencies for their role in the subprime mortgage crisis at a committee hearing. Critics say firms such as Moody's and Standard & Poor's should have downgraded the bonds backed by risky home loans much earlier.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

NPR's business news starts with pointing fingers in the housing crisis.

(Soundbite of music)

MONTAGNE: Lawmakers will grill executives from credit-rating agencies for their role in the subprime mortgage crisis at today's Senate committee hearing. Critics say firms like Moody's and Standard & Poor's failed to see the risk. They say rating agencies should have downgraded the bonds backed by risky home loans much earlier.

The firms made their first downgrade last July, at least two months after defaults on subprime loans started rising. Still, there's probably not much Congress can do to overhaul the rating system - beyond finger pointing, that is. There's even less it can do to restore confidence in the debt products that have exploded on Wall Street in recent years.

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