Bipartisan Policy Center Announces New Credit Rating Agency Task Force

Task Force To Work with Members of the House Financial Services Capital Markets Subcommittee Toward Reform

Contact: 

Eileen McMenamin, Director of Communications
(202) 379-1633
emcmenamin@bipartisanpolicy.org

Monday, August 24, 2009

Washington, D.C. – The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) today announced the launch of a new Credit Rating Agency Task Force. The Task Force will support Chairman Paul E. Kanjorski (D-PA), Ranking Member Scott Garrett (R-NJ) and other members of the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance, and Government Sponsored Enterprises as they work to reform credit rating agencies.

The BPC Task Force is composed of a distinguished group of professors, all leading experts on securities regulation, including John Coffee from Columbia University Law School, Jim Cox from Duke University School of Law, Donald Langevoort from Georgetown University Law School and Jonathan Macey from Yale Law School. The BPC Task Force will serve as a technical and creative resource to the Subcommittee as it works to develop legislation that will attract bipartisan support for reforming credit rating agencies, whose systematic underrepresentation of credit risk to investors is widely understood to be a major precipitating cause of the recent financial crisis. Inherent conflicts of interest between the credit rating agencies and issuers of credit and inadequate enforcement of existing rules by federal regulators are just two of the major flaws in the current system that the task force will address as it works closely with Members of Congress and their staff in the coming weeks.

John Coffee is the Adolf A. Berle Professor of Law at Columbia, where he is also the Director of its Center on Corporate Governance. His principal interests include corporations, securities regulation, class actions, criminal law and white-collar crime. He has written a number of books and has frequently testified before Committees of the House, the Senate and the SEC.

Jim Cox is the Brainerd Currie Professor of Law at Duke University School of Law. He has published extensively in the areas of market regulation and corporate governance, as well as having testified before the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate on insider trading, class action and market reform issues.

Donald Langevoort is the Thomas Aquinas Reynolds Professor of Law at Georgetown, where he teaches in the areas of securities regulation, corporate law and contracts. Previously, he practiced at WilmerHale before joining the staff of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission as Special Counsel in the Office of the General Counsel. Professor Langevoort has testified numerous times before Congressional committees on issues relating to insider trading and securities litigation reform.

Jonathan Macey is the Sam Harris Professor of Corporate Law, Corporate Finance and Securities Law at Yale Law School, and Professor in the Yale School of Management. He is the author of several books including the two-volume treatise, Macey on Corporate Laws.

The BPC Credit Rating Agency Task Force builds upon BPC’s recent activities with the Subcommittee. Over the last five months, the BPC produced a series of bipartisan, educational roundtables for the Subcommittee which examined select topics under its jurisdiction and included presentations from distinguished public and private sector experts. Throughout the series, members of the Subcommittee examined causes of the current U.S. financial crisis and discussed possible reforms, including the credit rating agency problem, which it is now addressing through pursuing reform legislation.

Speakers at the roundtables included Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner; Chairman of the Economic Recovery Advisory Board Paul Volcker; Jamie Dimon, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Office of JPMorgan; Former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan; Chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Mary Schapiro; Comptroller of the Currency John Dugan; and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Chairman Sheila Bair. Topics of the roundtables included regulatory reform, systemic risk, the role of the Federal Reserve System, complex financial entities and instruments, as well as an in depth look at the Obama Administration’s proposal for financial regulatory reform.

In 2007, former Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker, Tom Daschle, Bob Dole and George Mitchell formed the BPC to develop and promote bipartisan solutions to the nation's most pressing public policy challenges. The BPC is currently conducting projects in the areas of transportation, health care, energy and climate change, national and homeland security, and science. For more information about the BPC, please visit: www.bipartisanpolicy.org.