Today Standard’s and Poor’s ran the gauntlet and lowered the debt rating of the US from AAA to AA+.
The lowering of the US credit rating by S&P was truly a historic move, as this was the first time since 1917: the year in which the credit ratings were introduced and the USA received its AAA-rating.
But historic or not, it wasn´t a surprise after three years in which the debt of the USA rose to unprecedented levels and – to make things worse – the country seemed to be more politically divided than ever, leading to a disgraceful war from the political trenches.
Moody’s and Fitch today decided to keep their cards to their chest and remained the US at the highest credit rating, while mumbling some chitchat on ‘possible downgrades in the future and the need for further cutbacks to prevent this from happening’.
The US was of course angry with S&P, but this was the kind of angriness of a child that is caught with his hand in the cookie jar: ´you were stealing cookies´. “ Did not”. ´Yes, you were´. “DID NOT”.
But as Todd Harrison of Minyanville always says: the reaction to the news is more important than the news itself. And we had some political reactions today (these are translated reactions, based on an article in the Dutch newspaper ´Het Financieele Dagblad´:
The state news service Xinhua reacted harshly on the downgrade: ´The American government should acknowledge the fact that the good old days are over, in which the US could borrow itself out of the problems that the country caused itself.
This is typically the reaction of a would-be superpower that is angry about not being taken seriously by the rest of the world. The Chinese just try too hard, by dancing on the presumed grave of the US.
British Minister Vince Cable supported today the idea for a new reserve currency: ´This is an idea already existing for a long time, but it is not something we will do overnight´. The British government sees in the American downgrade a motivation for some firm cutbacks in the US.
Translated, this means: ´You are downgraded and we´re not. Did you really think you would get away with this? But we won´t be so stupid to put the attention on the UK, by openly asking for a new reserve currency´.
The Russian government reacted calmly. It is not willing to adapt its currency reserves, according to a spokesman, talking to press agency Interfax.
Freely translated, this means: ´Do you think we want to abolish the unofficial reserve currency of Russia?! And get panic in the streets?! Are you kidding??!!´
This Saturday morning, the French government said to trust that the US ´will come stronger from this difficult period´. “Last Friday´s unemployment figures were already a positive signal´, according to Minister Francois Baroin. According to the French minister this is the time ´to keep cool and not to overdramatize´.
Again translated: “You are in deep trouble and we have serious doubts if you can handle it”.
According to Dutch Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager:” We trust the American economy. Policy in the US is righteously aimed at budgetary discipline and some firm austerity programme. However, for this a quick and decisive implementation of budgetary reforms is essential`.
Translated: `We don´t trust the American economy. Why should we otherwise state that we do. Your austerity programme is a walk in the park and even that will be impossible to implement´.
For me personally, it´s not funny at all that the US came in this position. This story therefore is not to make fun about that fact. What remains, however, that nobody is untouchable anymore. And I really mean: nobody.