Cut ratings agencies loose

Congress is leaning toward greater regulation for officially sanctioned credit rating agencies, says Richard Beales in But it would be better to “end the practice of giving ratings official blessing in the first place.” Investors and government officials don’t use them correctly, anyway, and “tighter regulation” would stifle both government agencies and financial innovation. Sure, “investors would—shockingly—have to rely more on their own analytical work,” but they might demand more “simplicity and standardization” in assessing risk. “That doesn’t sound like such a bad result.”

Bonfire of the hedge funds

Hedge-fund managers should be very afraid, says Daniel Gross in Slate. Popular culture is “a good contrary indicator” of economic trends, and so the coming “onslaught of Wall Street-themed pop culture” is a bad sign. By the time a show or movie hits the screen, “the business phenomenon it describes has frequently gone bust.” So the numerous TV shows about “hedge funds, private-equity firms, and really rich people” suggest that “big, New York-based money is overplayed.” Not convinced? A sequel to Oliver Stone’s Wall Street is in the works. The original “tanked” after its debut in December 1987, right after the 1980s bull market crashed.