Monday, April 18, 2011
USA AAA Negative S&P Rating - Does it matter?
Joe: the negative rating by S&P on the USA’s AAA credit is going to be used as political ammunition against the DEM’s and White House to try and link the credit ceiling to the cuts the GOP wants. I suppose that’s a good thing because I want the cuts but I think much of what Barry R. wriote below is true but what he fails to recognize is that the DEM’s had tremendous power to steer us away from the housing bust, there appears to be no honor among thieves – the DEM’s, GOP, Rating Agencies and Bureaucrats, they all could have prevented the mess we are in. See the two opposing views below. –Bob
By Barry Ritholtz - April 18th, 2011, 11:10AM
There is an old Wall Street joke about analysts: “You don’t need them in a Bull Market, and you don’t want them in a Bear Market.”
Which brings me to Standard & Poor’s. They put a “negative” outlook on the U.S. AAA credit rating, citing rising budget deficits and debt.
To which I say “Who Cares?”
Its not that I disagree with their assessment — I do not — but I pay it little heed. It was much more important to me as an investor that PIMCO’s Bill Gross was out of Treasuries a month ago (and indeed, is short) than what S&P says. That was all any bond investor needed to know — no ratings agency necessary.
If ever there was an organization more corrupt, incompetent, and less capable of issuing an intelligent analysis on debt than S&P, I am unaware of them. Why do I write this? A huge part of the reason the US is in its awful financial position is due to the fine work of S&P. Consider what Nobel Laurelate Joseph Stiglitz, economics professor at Columbia University in New York observed:
“I view the ratings agencies as one of the key culprits. They were the party that performed that alchemy that converted the securities from F-rated to A-rated. The banks could not have done what they did without the complicity of the ratings agencies.”
Hence, the “negative outlook” of US debt has come about because the inability of Standard & Poor’s to have performed their jobs rating mortgage backed securities. Ultimately, this enabled the entire crisis, financial collapse, enormous budget deficit and now political over the debt ceiling. Of course there is a negative future outlook. Its in large part the work product of S&P and Moody’s. Why we even have Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organization (NRSRO) any longer following their payola =driven corruption, their gross incompetency and their inability to discharge their basic duties is beyond my understanding.
By Jake Sherman | 4/18/11 1:02 PM EDT
Congressional Republicans are using Standard & Poor’s decision to lower the U.S. credit outlook to “negative” as an opportunity to criticize Democrats for pushing a clean vote on raising the national debt limit.
Republicans argue that Congress should raise the debt ceiling only if such a vote is combined with long-term reforms. On Monday credit rating agency S&P explained the reduced outlook, saying they see no clear path planned to address the “very large budget deficits and rising government indebtedness.” The U.S., though, did keep its AAA bond rating.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on Monday morning said in a statement that it’s a “wake-up call to those in Washington asking Congress to blindly increase the debt limit.”
“Today’s announcement makes clear that the debt limit increase proposed by the Obama administration must be accompanied by meaningful fiscal reforms that immediately reduce federal spending and stop our nation from digging itself further into debt,” Cantor said. “For decades, Washington has blindly increased the debt limit while doing little to stop spending money that it doesn’t have, a dangerous pattern that must end.”
Rep. Scott Garrett, a conservative New Jersey Republican on the Financial Services Committee, called the report “a sobering reminder of just how dire our fiscal crisis really is.” “This is like watching a train wreck in slow motion with the White House sitting back to enjoy the show,” Garrett said in a statement.
Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California released a similar statement. “Today’s announcement from S&P should be a wake-up call to those who believe we can postpone the serious reforms needed to address our out-of-control government spending and debt,” McCarthy said in the release.
Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill), echoing his fellow Republicans across the Capitol, said the upcoming debt ceiling vote — expected this spring or early this summer — “offers a chance to save the dollar and our economy.” House Republicans have vowed to couple the debt limit increase with cuts to spending. Several lawmakers, including Cantor, said that the vote will be coupled with systemic reforms. Cantor, in a meeting with reporters last week, mentioned a balanced budget amendment and statutory spending caps as two options.
Assistant Treasury Secretary for Financial Markets Mary Miller in a statement said “S&P’s negative outlook underestimates the ability of America’s leaders to come together to address the difficult fiscal challenges facing the nation.” But House Democrats are still calling for a clean vote. Vermont Rep. Peter Welch sent a letter to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland, Assistant Democratic Leader Jim Clyburn of South Carolina and Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson of Connecticut asking to establish the party’s position “in favor of a clean extension of the debt ceiling.
“The debt ceiling vote is about one thing: affirming that America pays its bills,” Welch wrote in the letter, which was signed by more than 100 lawmakers. “It does not authorize new taxpayer obligations; it affirms to the world our commitment to pay obligations already incurred. To do otherwise, or to threaten to do so, or to leverage our duty to pay our bills to achieve a partisan advantage in budget disputes, jeopardizes the full faith and credit of the United States of America.”
The Democrats did not say they wouldn’t vote for a debt ceiling increase that is accompanied with spending cuts or other deficit-reducing measures.