This thesis gives an overview on the topic of ratings, the problem of the independency of credit ratings agencies and their impact on market participants. The relationship between the rating agencies and their customers is normally a long-term relationship and therefore it is important to ensure that audit opinions are independent and trustworthy, because many different categories of rating users must rely on the assigned rating. To prepare a neutral rating is the most important requirement for a credit rating agency. The first part of the thesis refers to the historical development of credit ratings and the areas of responsibility of rating agencies and banks. The focus will be set on the rating process in general and how the rating process works in practice based on the examples of Bank Austria AG and Erste Group Bank AG. In the second part, the effects of the financial crisis on the creation of a new regulatory framework and the European supervision are discussed. It is also questioned whether the ratings had an influence on the deepening of the economic crisis and what practical consequences the states affected had to face. Finally, the alternatives to the existing three major rating agencies, Standard& Poors, Moodys and Fitch are identified and the possibilities of establishing them in the market are dicussed. In this part the focus will also be on the question of the liability of the agencies towards investors and the quality of the given ratings in general.