It’s déjà vu all over again.  


Remember Arthur Anderson? That huge accounting firm went under primarily because of conflicts of interest. They were doing business with the very companies that they were supposed to be auditing. In other words, they had a huge financial incentive not to tell the truth, especially any bad news, about the companies they were evaluating.


When you are ready to buy a house, you always want a building inspector to go through it first. But that inspector should be paid by you, not the seller. You want the truth. If the inspector is taking money from the seller, he has a powerful incentive to conceal bad news about the house.


The New York Times recently published a powerful story on an aspect of our country’s financial meltdown that so far has not received enough coverage. And that is the story of the companies that rate bonds and other investments. Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s are two of the biggest. For decades it was investors who paid Moody’s for information (get it? Moody’s would then be working for the investors). Ten years ago the company found that it was much more lucrative to take money from bond sellers when Moody’s issued opinions on the quality of the investments. Moody’s is now sweating through various investigations and congressional hearings.


Note to self:  when making investment decisions, make sure that the rating opinions are not paid for by the sellers of the instruments. Moody’s built its business on the strength of its name and reputation.


Proverbs 22:1     A good name is more desirable than great riches;

                                to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.


I wonder if that’s why John the Baptist gained such a following out in the desert. From his clothes and diet, it was clear that nobody was paying him off. Thus his words had the ring of truth.



Straight talk.  Real hope.

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