Credit ratings agency Standard & Poor's makes an extraordinarily revealing admission in its defense against government charges that it defrauded investors:

S&P said in its request to dismiss the case that the government can’t base its fraud claims on S&P’s assertions that its ratings were independent, objective and free of conflicts of interest because U.S. courts have found that such vague and generalized statements are the kind of “puffery” that a reasonable investor wouldn’t rely on.

In other words, S&P admits that its claims to do what it says it does are little more than advertising slogans—you know, like: "More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette."

So years ago, when I purchased term life insurance ahead of the birth of my daughter, and evaluated the reliability of insurers based on their credit ratings, I wasn't acting reasonably, according to S&P. Good to know.

Yay for capitalism!