The big rating agencies — Moody's Investor Service, Standard & Poor's and Fitch Ratings — were supposed to serve as the nation's financial gatekeepers. But they assigned the best grade — AAA — to some of those risky subprime mortgage-backed securities, which went bad and helped cause the housing bust.

The landmark financial overhaul law, enacted last month, calls for reducing the influence of the rating agencies. And the first step was approved Tuesday by the board of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

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