SEC Looking Into Insider Trading at S&P, Just in Case

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Standard & Poor's headquarters in the financial district of New York on August 6, 2011. The United States' credit rating was cut for the first time ever August 5 when Standard and Poor's lowered it from triple-A to AA+, citing the country's looming deficit burden and weak policy-making process. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)
Standard & Poor's headquarters in the financial district of New York on August 6, 2011. The United States' credit rating was cut for the first time ever August 5 when Standard and Poor's lowered it from triple-A to AA+, citing the country's looming deficit burden and weak policy-making process. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images) Photo: STAN HONDA/2011 AFP

The Securities and Exchange Commission wants to know who exactly at Standard & Poor's knew they would be downgrading the United States' credit rating, in order to make sure that no insider trading went down. The SEC's examination staff is reviewing the moves made by those on the inside, despite the fact that "the agency is not aware of a leak from an S&P insider, nor was it aware of an aberrational trade." Plus, the Financial Times reports, enforcement would be tricky anyway because the looming downgrade was fairly obvious to experts:

Many traders anticipated the downgrade and bets could occur across numerous securities or currencies without inside information. In a traditional insider trading case, there is often a more predictable correlation between a company’s stock price and a particular development.

America's blood lust for those who put us down might go unfulfilled, although the Times notes optimistically, "it would not be the first time government-related information leaked or a rating firm employee was charged with insider trading." So there's hope.

SEC makes S&P downgrade inquiries [Financial Times]