Standard & Poor's settled government accusations that it inflated ratings of mortgage-backed investments on Tuesday, helping feed a Wall Street frenzy that brought the world economy to its knees.
No surprise, really. These massive cases are almost always settled. But what does it mean?
Bloomberg News reports that S&P's $1.5 billion in pacts with federal and state agencies follows more than $40 billion in similar deals struck by sundry financial institutions accused of contributing to the 2008 financial crisis.
Add it up and you have the collective cost of doing risky business on Wall Street. Some storied outfits - Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns - collapsed, but most, including S&P, continue more or less as they did before. Once again, in the S&P case, no top-level executives have read their names on criminal indictments, despite earlier government allegations of deceit and chicanery. This, for better or worse, is the best that prosecutors believe they can do.
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