Following years of pandering to client demands, and assigning trillions of dollars in fixed income securities with whatever rating money bought (among other things, a factor to the credit bubble and its subsequent implosion) S&P finally tried to do the right thing and tell the truth. However in this case it picked if not the worst, then certainly the most hypocriticial credit in the world to expose - the US itself. Sure enough two weeks after the downgrade, someone made the phone call and the CEO Deven Sharma is no more. As for the kick square in the gonads: Sherma will be replaced with the COO of...you know it... the bank which demanded tens of billions in secret Fed bailout loans itself, Citibank, and whose existence is inextricably tied to America not seeing any more downgrades ever again.
As the FT reports, "The McGraw-Hill board made the decision to replace Mr Sharma at a meeting on Monday, where it also discussed an ongoing strategic review." Alas, this is nothing but a case study of modern corporate reality in America: if you are not with the status quo, you are against it, and you are promptly booted out of it: anyone who does not share the visions of one glorious future built on ponzi schemes, houses of cards, and games of three card monte, will be promptly suicided, either physically or professionally.
For those of you wondering what qualifies the COO of Citibank to take the reigns at S&P, let me remind you that Citibank is a subsidiary of Citigroup which is part of the Wall Street Aristocracy. They were in the news the other day:
Citigroup Inc. (C) and Bank of America Corp. (BAC) were the reigning champions of finance in 2006 as home prices peaked, leading the 10 biggest U.S. banks and brokerage firms to their best year ever with $104 billion of profits.
The largest borrower, Morgan Stanley (MS), got as much as $107.3 billion, while Citigroup took $99.5 billion and Bank of America $91.4 billion, according to a Bloomberg News compilation of data obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests, months of litigation and an act of Congress.
It's fascinating to me that despite the fact that the US Constitution's forbids titles of nobility, we seemed to have acquired a parasitic aristocracy that lives largely at the expense of serfs they keep at bay with an oppressive tax system. For more information about the chart above, see this post from Greg Mankiw.