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Downgrading Warren Buffett
Why the billionaire investor's own credit-rating firm, Moody’s, cut Berkshire Hathaway’s perfect Aaa rating
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redit-rating agency Moody’s downgraded Berkshire Hathaway two notches, said Andrew Ross Sorkin in The New York Times, spoiling its perfect Aaa rating and “tarnishing the luster” of Warren Buffett’s chief investment vehicle. Berkshire for years held a “rarefied status” among U.S. firms, due to Buffett’s legendary “investing prowess,” but even the best companies are hit in a recession like this. “In an interesting twist, Berkshire owns 20 percent of Moody’s.”

That’s why the downgrade is “the PR move of the decade,” said Peter Cohan in BloggingStocks. It gives a patina of independence and objectivity to a rating agency that, with its brethren Standard & Poor’s and Fitch, “gorged on fees from investment banks” to over-rate their “toxic waste.” Moody’s would have more credibility if it had "downgraded Berkshire before Berkshire’s shares lost 44 percent of their value.”

“Moody’s appears to be a bit late to the party,” said Ravi Nagarajan in Guru Focus. Fitch beat them to Berkshire a month ago, albeit with a less “harsh” downgrade. On its merits, though, Moody’s downgrade appears to be based on “dubious logic.” Rather than assessing the risk of a default, the tarnished rating agencies seem to be “desperately” trying to assert their own relevance.

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