The reasons behind S&P’s credit downgrade
Standard & Poor’s followed Germany’s Feri ratings agency, on Friday, by downgrading the creditworthiness of the US, the world’s largest borrower. Below we print a slightly abridged version of the US agency’s reasoning for the cut, from AAA to AA+.
United States of America Long-Term Rating Lowered To ‘AA+’ On Political Risks And Rising Debt Burden; Outlook Negative
Primary Credit Analyst: Nikola G Swann, CFA, FRM
Secondary Contacts: John Chambers, CFA, New York; David T Beers, London
• We have lowered our long-term sovereign credit rating on the United States of America to ‘AA+’ from ‘AAA’ and affirmed the ‘A-1+’ short-term rating.
• We have also removed both the short- and long-term ratings from
• The downgrade reflects our opinion that the fiscal consolidation plan that Congress and the Administration recently agreed to falls short of what, in our view, would be necessary to stabilize the government’s medium-term debt dynamics.
• More broadly, the downgrade reflects our view that the effectiveness, stability, and predictability of American policymaking and political institutions have weakened at a time of ongoing fiscal and economic challenges to a degree more than we envisioned when we assigned a negative outlook to the rating on April 18, 2011.
• Since then, we have changed our view of the difficulties in bridging the gulf between the political parties over fiscal policy, which makes us pessimistic about the capacity of Congress and the Administration to be able to leverage their agreement this week into a broader fiscal consolidation plan that stabilizes the government’s debt dynamics any time soon.
• The outlook on the long-term rating is negative. We could lower the long-term rating to ‘AA’ within the next two years if we see that less reduction in spending than agreed to, higher interest rates, or new fiscal pressures during the period result in a higher general government debt trajectory than we currently assume in our base case.
On Aug. 5, 2011, Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services lowered its long-term sovereign credit rating on the United States of America to ‘AA+’ from ‘AAA’.
The outlook on the long-term rating is negative. At the same time, Standard & Poor’s affirmed its ‘A-1+’ short-term rating on the US. In addition, Standard & Poor’s removed both ratings from CreditWatch, where they were placed on July 14, 2011, with negative implications.
The transfer and convertibility (T&C) assessment of the US – our assessment of the likelihood of official interference in the ability of US-based public- and private-sector issuers to secure foreign exchange for debt service – remains ‘AAA’.