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Of ‘ratings’ and ‘news’ agencies DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 08/22/2011

Monday, August 22, 2011

Of ‘ratings’ and ‘news’ agencies

Herman Tiu Laurel
Ratings agencies are the financial world’s equivalent of today’s global “fashion dictators,” from Gucci, Dior, to Louis Vuitton, who decide what’s in and hot from the ramps of Paris or Milan. In the same way that fashion aficionados look to these luxury brands for the latest trends, presented in glossy sheen by the leading magazines, high-end department stores, boutiques, and celebrity “fashionistas,” ratings agencies are dutifully followed by the investment world’s big and small fund speculators, investors, and banks.

Down a rung or two, so-called “pirates” — both fashion and financial — from Hong Kong, Bangkok, Shenzhen, or Manila always keep a close watch to get their new line of pirated designs or passed down prognoses of financial ratings agencies, which then enable them to partake of the “killing.”

For them to succeed in mesmerizing the masses whose pockets are the goal, the global mass media is indispensable. Day in and day out, this mass media churns out fashion and financial glitter to keep audiences in rapt embrace.

While I have not followed the fashion scene for quite some time, I get the impression that the dearth of new names making an impact both here and abroad may well be one of the signs of the times of declining economic fortunes and increasing misery.

As I have been following more closely the financial ratings agencies, I have helped in aggressively debunking the myth of their validity, reliability, and relevance for real financial and economic evaluation of the global and national economy. In fact, this space is only one of the very few critical of the so-called big three — Moody’s, Standard and Poor’s, and Fitch Ratings — which mainstream business media consider as the gods of their financial Mount Olympus.

In the past decade, we were among the few voices in the wilderness on this matter; but ever since the Global Financial Crash of ‘08, where these ratings agencies still spouted rosy prognoses of Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, AIG, and other financial houses the day before the sky fell on them, the world’s view of them have already taken a negative turn.

For sure, Standard and Poor’s credit downgrade of the US a week ago while Obama and the Republican-dominated House were in the thick of their “debt cap” debates has not helped either, especially since Moody’s and Fitch weighed in with their positive ratings just a few days after American political and financial authorities raised their vehement objections.

As I have written before, both China and Europe have since reacted against these ratings agencies. China set up its own called Dagong after declaring the traditional ratings agencies as “unreliable,” whereas Europe threatened to establish its own after the big three downgraded Portugal and Spain’s credit-worthiness at a crucial moment of the EU (European Union)’s recovery economic efforts. As these ratings agencies are now in disarray, all we can say is “Good riddance!”

Similarly, we also want to call attention to the western “international” news agencies such as Reuters, Associated Press (both British), and Agence France Presse (French). Like the top fashion houses, these major news wires practically dictate the world’s news trends and, when they choose, even the direction of national news stories.

Many Filipino newspapers, broadcast networks, and news writers take these major news wires’ reports as gospel truth and repeat whatever is fed to them over and over until every Juan, Pedro and Maria believe these to be gospel truth.

Let’s take the latest news from the Associated Press (AP) about Libya where its headline says, “Libyan rebels: Key city, oil terminal seized,” as well as Reuters’ “Libya rebels strategic town (Zawiyah) near Triopli” and Agence France Presse (AFP)’s “Fighting erupts in Tripoli as rebels say regime is doomed,” all of which are not balanced by news such as those coming from Russia Today (RT) on statements by the Libyan government’s official spokesman belying these claims, which are never reported by the three major Western news agencies.

Each morning, after perusing all the major national newspapers on the Internet, I shift to reading Press TV (official news wire of Iran), RT (Russian cable news), Prison Planet (a dissident Web site in the US), GlobalResearch or the Centre for Research on Globalization (an anti-globalist Web site), China Daily, and Asia Times. When I turn on my Destiny Cable, I go immediately to RT and CCTV 9, and only scan CNN, BBC and Al Jazeera briefly. You’d be surprised at the utter Western media bias. For example, it is only from RT that I get this report:

“Independent journalist Lizzie Phelan says the reports are an effort by Natp to create panic. ‘The only gunfire that we are hearing is celebratory gunfire,’ she said. ‘And the only explosions that we are hearing are Nato air strikes or Natp sound bombs, which are clearly designed to create a sense of panic in… Tripoli.’
Phelan said that the Libyan rebels created fake footage of themselves in Zawiyah and Tripoli, and were aided in disseminating the footage by, among other media outlets, Al Jazeera. The Qatar-based satellite television station… has been at the center of the media conspiracy against Libya. The Western mainstream media, she continued, in turn picked up these reports and repeated them, creating a sense of panic among the Libyan people. Later… a number of armed gangs emerged… sleeper cells of rebels… (which) began firing randomly and threatening ordinary people… ‘They then took footage of the empty streets, which created the sense that they were in the process of capturing the city.’”

Al Jazeera, financed by a Western-controlled potentate, the Emir of Qatar, has been at the forefront of the disinformation campaign against Libya, starting with the fake news of Gaddafi’s jets bombing demonstrators back in February — news which CNN and BBC then repeated endlessly. Like fashion czars and financial ratings agencies of the West, these major news wires are mere tools of foreign financial predators. Time for the public to wake up!

(Tune in to Sulo ng Pilipino/Radyo OpinYon, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 5 to 7 p.m., and Tuesday, Thursday, 5 to 6 p.m. on 1098AM; Talk News TV with HTL, Saturday, 8:15 to 9 p.m., with replay at 11 p.m., on GNN, Destiny Cable Channel 8, on “Coconut vs. Alzheimer’s”; also visit http://newkatipunero.blogspot.com for our articles plus TV and radio archives)

(Reprinted with permission from Mr. Herman Tiu-Laurel)

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110822com5.html


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