possible downgrades

  • 15 Oct 2013 at 5:33 PM

Fitch May Or May Not Downgrade U.S.

Fitch Ratings placed the U.S.’s pristine triple-A rating on watch for downgrade Tuesday as the federal government runs short on time to raise the nation’s borrowing limit. The Fitch warning comes as the House and Senate work on competing plans to raise the U.S.’s borrowing limit and fully reopen the federal government. The Treasury Department, which has used extraordinary steps to continue paying its bills for roughly two weeks, says it will exhaust those powers on Thursday…Fitch said a failure by the government to honor interest or principal payments on U.S. Treasury securities would lead it to downgrade the U.S.’s sovereign issuer-default rating to “restricted default.” It would also slash the affected issues to B-plus from triple-A. [WSJ]

Fitch’s outlook on the U.S., which it still assigns its top AAA grade, reflects declining confidence that timely fiscal measures necessary to place U.S. public finances on a sustainable path will be forthcoming, the company said in a statement today. Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s Investors Service said Nov. 21 that the so-called supercommittee’s inability to reach an agreement didn’t merit a downgrade because the inaction will trigger $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts…“In terms of additional information, a Fitch negative outlook doesn’t seem that significant,” Guy LeBas, chief fixed- income strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott LLC in Philadelphia, said before the announcement. “A negative outlook from Fitch just adds one more voice to the chorus of a slowly deteriorating U.S. fiscal situation.” [Bloomberg]