It's taken over three months to perform, but Fitch Ratings has managed to place a harness on the 10-ton elephant that is the credit derivatives market.

Over the last 10 years, credit derivatives have changed the makeup of the financial arena dramatically. The current default environment is "the first instance this new capital environment is contending with high levels of default," said Robert Grossman, Fitch's chief credit officer. Worldcom's default affected 70 CDOs rated by the agency. "This made it clear that large-scale defaults would be diffused in the capital markets in a different way from 10 years ago," he said, explaining what spawned the survey.

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