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Credit ratings

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Any spark seems to trigger concern about a potential new problem in the credit world these days. On February 20, Credit Suisse - thought to be largely unscathed by subprime - said it would take nearly $3 billion in losses after mispricing its bond portfolio. Credit default swap (CDS) spreads on iTraxx indexes in Asia and elsewhere blew out to record levels. Market participants appeared to show little regard for macroeconomic developments or corporate fundamentals such as balance-sheet strength.

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