Very few people in the general public were aware of the credit agencies until the 2008 "credit crunch". This is because they had all rated the toxic financial garbage as Triple A, TRIPLE A!! So, before that time, everybody was happy ploughing money into what proved to be a series of ponzi-schemes such as the Irish property bubble, and the too good to be true savings rates in Iceland. But the ultimate bubble were the banks themselves and we began to see them topple, one by one as they were nationalised, aka bailed out, by governments who failed to reign in the ratings agencies whilst the bubble was being inflated.
A cynic may say that governments allowed the bubble to provide an excuse to nationalise banking, which of course they could not get away absent such a fabulous crisis. Of course, this could be why the 1930's depression was called the "Great Depression" because it was a wonderful time for control freaks in government everywhere as they finally found an excuse to impose socialism onto America via the New Deal and militarism via World War II.
But, back to the topic, what are the credit agencies, what the heck is a Triple A rating and what does this have to do with you? Well, to understand the term we have to go back to George Orwell's seminal novel 1984. In that, the Protaganist, Winston Smith describes how the Party (a dictatorship), had reduced language down to the bare minimum in order to limit the Prole's (general public's) ability to think. The result was Newspeak, which was the language of INGSOC (English Socialism).
Chapter 17 explains the reason for Newspeak and the various other horrors imposed upon people like Winston by the State. That should the population gain enough leisure time to become literate and learn to think for themselves, that they would sooner or later realize that the privileged minority had no function and would sweep it away. Orwell was not referring to capitalists, but to the government and to those corporations who seek unfair trade advantage by obtaining favours from the government.
In this particular example, we refer to credit rating agencies, which rate the credit worthiness of financial assets held by banking institutions. In the past, during the era of Capitalism, we judged investments on a myriad of criteria. But now, it is Triple A, Double B or whatever else, and the public has no idea what they are talking about other than that AAA is good and BBB is worse than that. So, where do we find a parallel in 1984's Newspeak? The key driver in that language was the destruction of words for the aforementioned purpose of stupefying the people in order that the be better controlled. One method was to eliminate antonyms, i.e. words which are the opposite and negative of another. Good would be allowed, but one could not say bad. We see similar things occurring in contemporary politics where for example negative words like war are replaced with "kinetic military action", immediately neutralising the anti-war movement by eliminating the words which explain that which they object to.
In terms of rating things, good is OK, but bad is an unnecessary additional word, so in Newspeak, bad things become ungood. And to make good stronger, it would be "wasteful" to have additional adjectives so, a better thing would be plusgood or doubleplusgood. These rating agencies have gone one step further by just using a string of letter for the same purpose! We have AAA, which may as well mean doubleplusgood and A which may as well refer to good. Of course, there are may steps between but, the need to differentiate between ratings will reduce as increasing numbers of financial institutions are nationalised, i.e. assimilated into the Borg.
One of the beauties of re-defining language in such simple terms is, that they can mean whatever the definer wishes them to mean, and the definitions can change depending on which way the wind blows. The public's experience of the ratings agencies rating toxic mortgage garbage as AAA right up to the 2008 financial crisis have proven this; and the manipulation of language in this way creates great power. This is because the large financial institutions now determine their capital structures based on the rating agencies dictates. For example, if an institution states that 30% of its assets will be AAA, it must sell an asset it holds if that asset is downgraded to AAB and its quota for that rating is full. Of course, back in the good old days of Capitalism, the local bank manager would weigh up the many aspects of an investment including whether they get on with the entrepreneur. But now, the computer simply says no. What if Moody's collectively decided to downgrade the credit rating of all members of the British public! Don't give them any ideas.
So, simply by changing ratings, the ratings agencies can determine capital flows in the economy. Since these Agencies are given their licence by government and are regulated by government, they become creatures of the State. This is therefore a socialist, command and control economy under disguise. If government want to nationalise all the banks, along with the mortgages and real estate held as collateral, they just order the ratings agencies to rate toxic mortgage backed assets as AAA until the bubble is big enough to burst.
And big insiders, not including Goldman Sachs, ehem! Could potentially request that government downgrade their competition, such as Bear Stearns? No, it wouldn't happen, go back to sleep, move on, nothing happened here, INGSOC doesn't exist.