On shaky ground

Cover story

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On its website, triple-A rated bond insurer MBIA proudly displays an illustration of three columns, each with a large letter ‘A’ on top. The image, presumably, is meant to convey the impression that MBIA’s triple-A credit rating is rock solid, that it underpins the company’s success, and perhaps even that its rating is lifted above the everyday issues that have negatively affected so many other companies’ credit ratings.

As a bond insurer, a financial institution has to be not only financiall

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