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11. The Enablers
Moody's, Fitch, Standard & Poor's

Business runs on borrowed money, and the credit rating agencies judge how risky a debt issuer is. Without their backing, it would have been impossible to sell the structured finance products that tore through (and are now tearing apart) the markets. The agencies stood by their sterling ratings on trashy subprime-backed bonds even after the credit crisis began, a decision that would soon trash their reputations

NEXT: The Watchdogs
Last updated August 06 2008: 6:26 PM ET
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