BEIJING, Dec. 12 -- Lessons have been learned since the U.S. housing bubble burst and progress has been made in identifying problems sooner, the CEO of Moody's Corporation told Xinhua on Thursday.
"We are always trying to improve the likelihood that we will see problems early," Moody's President and CEO Raymond McDaniel said in an interview. "We've made changes to our organization structure, to governance and decision making, and to the substance of our credit analysis or actual analytical models."
Moody's and Standard & Poor's make up about 80 percent of global credit rating business.
The rating agencies were blamed for contributing to the 2008 financial meltdown and the subsequent economic crisis. They were also accused of having a role in the U.S. housing market crash by assigning too many high ratings to collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) that turned "junk" not long after.
A slew of lawsuits have been brought against the industry. In February, the U.S. Department of Justice sued Standard & Poor's, seeking 5 billion U.S. dollars for the company's alleged role in misleading investors.
Five years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, McDaniel, a Wall Street veteran, believes the world economy is finally on a more positive track.
"A number of countries in Europe have returned to growth and we will see growth for the European Union as a whole in 2014," McDaniel said. "There is definitely growth... in the United States. I feel positive about what's happening in the U.S.."
McDaniel regards China's credit outlook as stable and that a downgrade would be very unlikely in 2014.
"China is in a strong position, and has good growth in GDP. We are not expecting there to be any turmoil or financial market turbulence. So our view on China is very positive," McDaniel said.
China rolled out an ambitious reform package of economic transition last month, as a slowdown in GDP growth, overcapacity, mounting government debt and a runaway shadow banking sector prompted bears to warn that the world's second largest economy may be losing steam.
The economic overhaul is designed to transform the Chinese economy from an investment-led model to a consumption-driven one.
Structural reforms, however, entail sacrificing short-term growth as monetary policies are expected to be less accommodative to contain financial risks.
China's GDP growth has slowed to 7.8 percent from the double-digit numbers registered in the past decade.
"We view the economic reforms as generally credit positive for most areas of the Chinese economy. It is going to be credit positive at the government level, and for companies in most industries. So the reform agenda, which gives a more decisive role to the market and at the same time develops complementary social reforms and related business reforms, is broadly positive."
McDaniel said implementing the reforms now is a very wise move as the Chinese economy is still strong and free of a financial crisis.
The Moody's CEO also addressed accusations and the threat of sanctions from European officials who say that the rating agencies exacerbated the Eurozone crisis by downgrading several countries' sovereign debt.
"Frankly I disagree," McDaniel said. "The rating agency's role is to carefully and correctly observe what's happening, not to cause what's happening."
The CEO refuted allegations that Moody's contributed to volatility in Europe, saying the agency helped to dampen some of the volatility that has been seen in the trading of government bonds and bank bonds in Europe.
"I'm very proud of what we've done in Europe," McDaniel added.