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Minggu, 07 Agustus 2011

U.S. Loses AAA Credit Rating as S&P Slams Debt - Bloomberg

Standard & Poor’s downgraded the U.S.’s AAA credit rating for the first time, slamming the nation’s political process and criticizing lawmakers for failing to cut spending or raise revenue enough to reduce record budget deficits.

S&P lowered the U.S. one level to AA+ while keeping the outlook at “negative” as it becomes less confident Congress will end Bush-era tax cuts or tackle entitlements. The rating may be cut to AA within two years if spending reductions are lower than agreed to, interest rates rise or “new fiscal pressures” result in higher general government debt, the New York-based firm said yesterday.

“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,” S&P said in a statement late yesterday after markets closed.

Lawmakers agreed on Aug. 2 to raise the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling and put in place a plan to enforce $2.4 trillion in spending reductions over the next 10 years, less than the $4 trillion S&P had said it preferred. Even with the specter of a downgrade, demand for Treasuries surged as investors saw few alternatives amid concern global growth is slowing and Europe’s sovereign debt crisis is spreading.

U.S. Response

On a conference call today with reporters, S&P analysts David Beers and John Chambers said that in their analysis, the “extremely difficult” political discussions in Washington over how to reduce the more than $1 trillion budget deficit carried more weight in their decision than the nation’s outstanding debt. It said the talks weren’t “consistent” with a AAA rating.

The U.S. immediately lashed out at S&P after the downgrade, with a Treasury Department spokesman saying the firm’s analysis contains a $2 trillion error. The spokesman, who asked not to be identified by name, didn’t elaborate, saying the mistake speaks for itself.

Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings affirmed their AAA credit ratings on Aug. 2, the day President Barack Obama signed a bill that ended the debt-ceiling impasse that pushed the Treasury to the edge of default. Moody’s and Fitch also said that downgrades were possible if lawmakers fail to enact debt reduction measures and the economy weakens.
No ‘Surprise’

“This move should not be much of a surprise to markets, though the timing is at a point where market sentiment is fragile after the drop in stocks this week,” said Ajay Rajadhyaksha, the head of U.S. fixed-income strategy at Barclays Capital in New York. “What really matters is whether the markets are willing to ‘downgrade’ the U.S. bond market. As this week’s move showed, U.S. Treasuries remain the flight-to-quality asset of choice.” Read More

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