Sign up for Equitymaster's free daily newsletter, The 5 Minute WrapUp and get access to our latest Multibagger guide (2018 Edition) on picking money-making stocks.

This is an entirely free service. No payments are to be made.

Download Now Subscribe to our free daily e-letter, The 5 Minute WrapUp and get this complimentary report.
We hate spam as much as you do. Check out our Privacy Policy and Terms Of Use.
Is the US about to lose its AAA rating? - Outside View by Asad Dossani

Helping You Build Wealth With Honest Research
Since 1996. Try Now

  • MyStocks


Login Failure
(Please do not use this option on a public machine)
  Sign Up | Forgot Password?  

Is the US about to lose its AAA rating?
Jul 18, 2011

US government debt is generally considered to be among the safest in the world. Despite a budget deficit around 10% of GDP, and a debt to GDP ratio of near 100%, government bond yields remain near historical lows. This reflects the market expectation that the debt is very safe, despite the poor economic fundamentals.

So it probably comes as a surprise that the largest rating agencies have put the US on a potential downgrade watch. They are saying that there is 50% probability that the US credit rating will be downgraded in the next three months. All of this is due to a legal issue surrounding the maximum total amount of debt.

The US currently has a debt ceiling (i.e. total debt cannot rise beyond this level) of around $14.3 trillion. The congress must pass a law increasing this debt ceiling in order for the government to continue to borrow money and fund its deficit. The US will hit its debt limit by August 2nd, and if the ceiling is not raised, the government will run out of money.

A US default would be quite catastrophic for global financial stability. To put this into perspective, consider Greece that has been near default for some time. The Greek debt crisis has had a large negative impact on markets and the global economy, and they haven't actually defaulted yet! By contrast, the US economy is approximately 44 times larger than the Greek economy. Clearly the impact of default would be much greater.

The big difference between Greece and the US is that Greece had no choice but to receive a bailout to avoid default. Their bond yields had risen so much, that it was not possible for them to borrow from investors to fund their deficit. On the other hand, if the US defaults, it will have been by choice.

As mentioned, the bond market is perfectly content in lending to the US government at record low interest rates. The real problem is with the politicians, who are unable to agree to raise the debt ceiling. While the long-term increasing debt of the US is certainly an issue that needs to be fixed, it's a no brainer that in the short term, the debt ceiling needs to be raised, given the potential consequences of a US default.

The fact that the US may default due to a malfunctioning political system rather than a serious economic problem is really cause for concern. It reaffirms the view of most people - that politicians are incompetent and they usually cause more harm than good.

After all, most of the debt problems around the world are caused by politicians in the first place, who happily spend more money without paying for it, in order to increase their chances of getting reelected. So now, the fate of the US economy and the fate of the global financial system are in the hands of a few hundred incompetent people. Get ready for: 'The Global Financial Crisis - Part II' (the sequel).

Disclosure: I do not hold the currency/commodity that is analyzed in this column.

Asad is an Economics Graduate from The London School of Economics who has also been a part of the currency derivatives team of Deutsche Bank in London. Currently pursuing his PhD at the University of California San Diego where he's researching on Algorithmic Trading Strategies, Asad will be your direct line for answers to all the questions you might have on short-term investing. A part of the Equitymaster Team since 2010, Asad has been sharing his knowledge on short term trading strategies with our valued readers, like you, through our various services. In fact, at the last count, his weekly newsletter, Profit Hunter, was being delivered to more than 100,000 smart traders across the world!


The views mentioned above are of the author only. Data and charts, if used, in the article have been sourced from available information and have not been authenticated by any statutory authority. The author and Equitymaster do not claim it to be accurate nor accept any responsibility for the same. The views constitute only the opinions and do not constitute any guidelines or recommendation on any course of action to be followed by the reader. Please read the detailed Terms of Use of the web site.

Equitymaster requests your view! Post a comment on "Is the US about to lose its AAA rating?". Click here!


More Views on News

Sorry! There are no related views on news for this company/sector.

Most Popular

These Are the Kind of Blue Chips You Should Invest In(The 5 Minute Wrapup)

Nov 9, 2018

All blue chip companies are large caps but all large caps are not blue chips.

Get this Small Cap Logistics Company at a 16% Discount Right Now...(Profit Hunter)

Nov 6, 2018

If you turn the clock back, the current macroeconomic climate is nothing new. The markets have seen them all, and every downcycle has been succeeded by gravity defying gains...more so in the small cap space. This time will be no different.

Insider Buying: These Owner Operators Are Taking Advantage of the Correction(Chart Of The Day)

Nov 2, 2018

We believe insider buying is one of the strongest smart money indicators.

Are You Among The 35% Parents Who Will Not Be Able To Finance Their Child's Future?(Outside View)

Nov 1, 2018

PersonalFN explains the importance of being prepared for your child's future.

Are Fund Houses Opening Up Their NFO Factories Again?(Outside View)

Nov 2, 2018

PersonalFN sheds light on FY 2018-19 so far, the mutual fund industry has collectively launched 84 New Fund Offers (NFOs), of which some are still open for subscription.


Small Investments
BIG Returns

Zero To Millions Guide 2019
Get our special report, Zero To Millions
(2019 Edition) Now!
We will never sell or rent your email id.
Please read our Terms