The parallels with the earlier ratings fiasco are easy to see:

During the mortgage securities boom, bankers knew more about their bonds than the ratings agencies did and took advantage. A similar problem occurred with re-remics. “Chances are that if a bond is getting re-remicked, it’s a bad bond and the holder wants to forestall the inevitable reckoning,” Mr. Kolchinsky said. The ratings agencies somehow missed that.

There also looks to have been “ratings shopping,” where issuers seek out the most lenient firms, rather than the best. S.&P., according to Mr. Kolchinsky, was slower to downgrade residential mortgages than Moody’s was. Lo and behold, S.&P. nabbed the bigger market share in new offerings of residential securities.

Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu.