Who can forget Tim Geithner’s historic interview from April 2011, in which he said:
Peter Barnes “Is there a risk that the United States could lose its AAA credit rating? Yes or no?”
Geithner’s response: “No risk of that.”
“No risk?” Barnes asked.
“No risk,” Geithner said.
Considering that the US was downgraded by S&P just 4 months later, one person who certainly will never forget his idiotic preannouncement, is the former Treasury secretary, Tim Geithner. And being the sore loser that everyone suspected he was (although one hopes his recent well-paid move to Warburg Pincus will help soothe his sensitivity) it will come as no surprise that Geithner told the Chairman of embattled rating agency Standard & Poor’s, that its downgrade of the US from AAA to AA+ “would be met by a response.“
S&P filed a declaration of McGraw yesterday in federal court in Santa Ana, California, as part of a request to force the U.S. to hand over potential evidence the company says will support its claim that the government filed a fraud lawsuit against it last year in retaliation for its downgrade of the U.S. debt two years earlier.
In his court statement, McGraw said Geithner called him on Aug. 8, 2011, after S&P was the only credit ratings company to downgrade the U.S. debt. Geithner, McGraw said, told him that S&P would be held accountable for the downgrade. Government officials have said the downgrade was based on an error by S&P.
“S&P’s conduct would be looked at very carefully,” Geithner told McGraw according to the filing. “Such behavior would not occur, he said, without a response from the government.”
The Justice Department last year accused S&P of lying about its ratings being free of conflicts of interest and may seek as much as $5 billion in civil penalties. The government alleged in its Feb. 4, 2013, complaint that S&P knowingly downplayed the risk on securities before the credit crisis to win business from investment banks seeking the highest possible ratings to help sell the instruments.
None of this somces as a surprise, and it has been well-known for a long time that the only reason the US Department of Injustice targeted only S&P and not Moody’s or Fitch for their crisis era ratings of mortgages is precisely due to Geithner’s vendetta with S&P. Of course, this kind of selective punishment simply means that nobody else will dare to touch the US rating ever again, or speak badly against the sovereign in a public medium for fears of retaliation.
Naturally, while this means that the credibility of the rating agencies is now non-existent even among the head in the sand groupthink, what is worse is observing the US’ slide into the kind of totalitarian, 1st Amendment quashing tactics that worked out so well for all previous fascist regimes.