Companies were founded to provide investors with financial information on the growing railroad industry, including Henry Varnum Poor's publishing company, which produced a publication compiling financial data about the railroad and canal industries.
For corporate obligations, Fitch's ratings incorporate a measure of investor loss in the event of default, but its ratings on structured, project, and public finance obligations narrowly measure default risk.
Structured finance was another growth area of growth.
The "financial engineering" of the new "private-label" asset-backed securities—such as subprime mortgage-backed securities (MBS), collateralized debt obligations (CDO), "CDO-Squared", and "synthetic CDOs"—made them "harder to understand and to price" and became a profit center for rating agencies.
In the United States, the construction of extensive railroad systems had led to the development of corporate bond issues to finance them, and therefore a bond market several times larger than in other countries.
The bond markets in the Netherlands and Britain had been established longer but tended to be small, and revolved around sovereign governments that were trusted to honor their debts.
For example, the commission changed its minimum capital requirements for broker-dealers, allowing smaller reserves for higher-rated bonds; the rating would be done by "nationally recognized statistical ratings organizations" (NRSROs).