February 21, 2024

James Gorman ordered an extra dry vodka martini at a St. Petersburg, Russia, hotel bar late one night in June 2012. The Morgan Stanley chief executive officer was there to celebrate a downgrade.

The CEO of one of America’s biggest banks wouldn’t normally be toasting such a move. But Moody’s decision to lower Morgan Stanley’s credit rating by just two notches, rather than the three it was weighing, had saved the bank from a disastrous fall into junk territory.

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