Are rabbis the credit rating agencies of kosher?


So, you know how the credit agencies that were supposed to provide impartial ratings of corporate debt gave their hechsher to all sorts of toxic securities? And you know how the reason they failed is because, well, they were paid off by the corporations they were supposedly evaluating? And you know how that’s part of the reason we’re in a financial crisis of historic proportions?

Well, for those who don’t, here’s how Frank Partnoy, a University of San Diego law professor, breaks it down.

“Imagine if you had a rabbi and said, ‘All the laws of kosher depend on whether this rabbi decides if food is kosher or not,’ ” says Mr. Partnoy, a former derivatives trader. “If the rules say ‘You have to use this rabbi,’ he could be totally wrong and it won’t affect the value of his franchise.”

The irony, which Partnoy may not recognize, is that’s exactly how the kosher certification industry works. Hopefully, the country won’t face a kosher crisis when that might really matter (oops!).

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