California Attorney General Jerry Brown today announced that he has issued subpoenas to the three major ratings agencies as part of an investigation into the way they rated securities, such as those backed by subprime mortgages that later went sour as the housing market bubble burst.

Brown’s assessment of the problem is by now familiar: that Moody’s Investors Service, Standard & Poor’s, and Fitch Ratings were driven by profit motives in assigning triple-A ratings to many complicated securities that proved to be worthless.

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