S&P downgrades-confusing cause and effect

The S&P (Standard and Poor) analysts are another bunch who always confuse the cause with the effect.
They downgraded (or are threatening to downgrade) Lehman and AIG last week. See stories here and here.

In both cases they are saying the reason for the downgrade is the low share price and the increasing credit spreads on the companies' bonds making it difficult for them to raise capital.

The cause is said to be the low share price and the increasing credit spread. The effect is supposedly the increased difficulty to get more funds and capital.

This is misplaced causality.

The stock price is down (and credit spreads are up) because investors see fundamental problems for these companies. The fundamental problems (mortgage loans, real estate investments, Alt-A loans) are also the reason why capital raises for these companies are difficult.

Weakening of share price, increase in credit spreads, and difficulty to raise capital-all are effects of fundamentals problems with these companies. The S&P guys are attributing an effect as the cause of another effect....go figure.

A weak share price for a good business (fundamentally good business) makes it easier for the company to raise capital, because an investor would love to loan money to a thriving business whose share price has been pushed down artificially for some reason. In the present market-coal, fertilizer, iron-ore, copper, and oil stocks are good examples of this-I have been adding to them in this massive sell-off. A good way to play them all is buying BHP and RTP-u get to play the whole commodities sector in a way.

But these analysts of S&P amused me.


Sanjay