On Friday, for the first time in American history, Standard & Poors (S&P) lowered its credit rating on the U.S. Treasury from AAA to AA+ while keeping the outlook at “negative.”
Amidst angry criticisms from Obama administration officials at the White House and Treasury — that S.& P.’s action was based on faulty budget accounting that discounted the just-enacted deal for increasing the debt limit — S&P not only gave a full-throated defense of its decision but warned that further downgrades may lie ahead. U.S.’s rating may be further cut to AA within two years if general government debt gets even higher.
This means that the United States now is fallen behind these countries that are rated AAA by S&P:
- Hong Kong
- Isle of Man
- United Kingdom
Here is the Full Text of the S&P Statement:
“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 CreditWatch negative.
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.”