The opinions of the major ratings agencies like S&P carry a lot of weight in the financial markets. Their own reputations, however, were damaged during the financial crisis when they awarded AAA ratings to what turned out to be toxic, mortgage-backed securities. Guest host John Ydstie speaks with Nikola Swann, a credit analyst at Standard & Poor's, about some of the criticism the company's received in the wake of the decision to downgrade the U.S. credit rating.
Spot a manatee, the friendly, charming and prehistoric marine animal common in Florida's waters, and you're likely to think they're constantly besieged by sharks or other toothy killers. Many bear heavy scars and other marks of attack. But, as essayist Diane Roberts writes, manatees have no natural predators. What's attacking them? Boat propellers.
When Standard & Poor's downgraded the U.S. government's credit rating, the Treasury Department and White House responded swiftly with criticism. Guest host John Ydstie talks with NPR's National Political Correspondent Don Gonyea about that response.
This weekend, the University of Alabama will award degrees to students who would have received them last spring had a devastating tornado not postponed graduation. During ceremonies, the school will honor the six students killed in the storm. NPR's Kathy Lohr reports.