Big Three (credit rating agencies)
The Big Three credit rating agencies
Credit rating agency
A Credit rating agency is a company that assigns credit ratings for issuers of certain types of debt obligations as well as the debt instruments themselves...

are Standard & Poor's
Standard & Poor's
Standard & Poor's is a United States-based financial services company. It is a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies that publishes financial research and analysis on stocks and bonds. It is well known for its stock-market indices, the US-based S&P 500, the Australian S&P/ASX 200, the Canadian...

 (S&P), Moody's
Moody's Corporation is the holding company for Moody's Analytics and Moody's Investors Service, a credit rating agency which performs international financial research and analysis on commercial and government entities. The company also ranks the credit-worthiness of borrowers using a standardized...

, and Fitch Group. S&P and Moody's are US-based, while Fitch is dual-headquartered in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 and London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, and is controlled by the France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

-based FIMALAC
FIMALAC is a French credit rating and risk management corporation.-Biography:FIMALAC was created by Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière in 1991. He serves as the CEO, and holds 100% of the shares of the Fimalac Group, that holds ~80% of Fimalac. It is headquartered in Paris...

. The European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 has considered setting up a state-supported EU-based agency. In 2001, Moody's and Standard & Poor's market share was around 40% each, and Fitch's market share was around 15%; the Big Three therefore held 95% of the market. However these figures understate the dominance of Moody's and S&P, since the norm for debt issuers is to obtain ratings from these two, and only occasionally turn to Fitch, for example if Moody's and S&P disagree.

From the mid 1970s until early 2003, the Big Three were the only "Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organization
Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organization
A Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organization is a credit rating agency that issues credit ratings that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission permits other financial firms to use for certain regulatory purposes...

s (NRSROs)" in the United States.
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