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[Commercial Grade] I-Rate Over The Agencies

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Commercial Grade is a post by John Cicero, MAI who provides commentary on issues affecting real estate appraisers, with specific focus on commercial valuation. John is a partner of mine in our commercial real estate valuation concern Miller Cicero, LLC [1] and he is, depending on what day of the week it is, one of the smartest guys I know. …Jonathan Miller

There is no shortage of villains in this market meltdown (see CNN’s 10 Most Wanted Culprits of the Collapse [2]). Henry Waxman, Chairman of the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform, even got a concession from Alan Greenspan [3] that he was “partially wrong in opposing regulation of derivatives” and acknowledged that financial institutions didn’t protect shareholders and investments as well as he had expected.”

Though there has been lots of finger pointing, I think that the rating agencies are getting off way to easily. Sure, they’ve been scolded, but considering the extent of the fallout and their role, more than a slap on the wrist is in order. Today’s New York Post reports how the credit rating analysts saw the collapse coming years ago [4], but did nothing because it was such profitable business.

Over the years, I couldn’t understand how so many inflated appraisals prepared for the investment banks got by the rating agencies, the supposed watchdogs. As I’ve said in past posts, my firm sat on the sidelines when it came to CMBS appraisals because we didn’t play the game, and the rating agencies, who were supposed to be the game referees, were on the take. Where is the outrage over their conduct and why haven’t those senior executives been shown the door?