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A rare phenomenon occurred in April. Two major credit rating agencies and Morgan Stanley & Co. agreed to settle litigation challenging the ratings of subprime investment products. (The amount of the settlement hasn’t been disclosed, but The Wall Street Journal has reported it as $225 million.) The settlements marked the first time the credit rating agencies—which continue to deny any liability for their role in the financial crisis—agreed to settle such a case. Something else was unusual, too. These cases, which involved two special investment vehicles called Cheyne and Rhinebridge, were set for trial in May and had moved far enough along in pretrial proceedings to allow the plaintiffs to reveal significant new details about the ratings process.

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