To the Brink of Destruction

To the Brink of Destruction

America's Rating Agencies and Financial Crisis

Cornell Studies in Money

by Timothy J. Sinclair

Published by: Cornell University Press

234 pages, 140.00 x 216.00 x 0.00 mm, 3 b&w line drawings

  • ISBN: 9781501760242
  • Published: November 2021


To the Brink of Destruction exposes how America's rating agencies helped generate the global financial crisis of 2007 and beyond, surviving and thriving in the aftermath. Despite widespread scrutiny, rating agencies continued to operate on the same business model and wield extraordinary power, exerting extensive influence over public policy.

Timothy J. Sinclair brings the shadowy corners of this story to life with congressional testimony, showing how the wheels of accountability turned—and ultimately failed—during the crisis. He asks how and why the agencies risked their lucrative franchise by aligning so closely with a process of financial innovation that came undone during the crisis. What he finds is that key institutions, the agencies among them, changed from being judges to advocates years before the crisis, eliminating a vital safety valve meant to hinder financial excess.

Sinclair's well-researched investigation offers a clear, accessible explanation of structured finance and how it works. To the Brink of Destruction avoids tired accusations, instead providing novel insight into the role rating agencies played in the worst crisis of modern global capitalism.