On Friday the United States lost its coveted AAA credit rating. Credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s downgraded the nation’s rating for the first time since the U.S. won the top ranking in 1917. 18 countries now have a better credit rating than the US.
In response to the historic downgrade, the Obama Treasury released a statement claiming S&P made a $2 trillion mistake.
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Yesterday we showed that when it comes to projections, the CBO’s own track record makes S&P shine in comparison. Apparently this fact was not lost on S&P itself which sent out a note explaining which “clarified assumption used on discretionary spending growth.” Basically, as S&P says, “Our ratings are determined primarily using a 3-5 year time horizon. In the near term horizon, by 2015, the U.S. net general government debt with the new assumptions were projected to be $14.5 trillion (79% of 2015 GDP) versus $14.7 trillion (81% of 2015 GDP) with the initial assumption – a difference of $345 billion.” So yes, while by 2021 the difference could be $2.1 trillion based on the CBO’s current baseline model, the truth is that the CBO’s own estimate on revenue and spending projections in a decade will likely have a +/- $10 trillion margin of error. So does anyone really care? In essence all S&P did was point out what Zero Hedge and others have been saying: that a “deficit cutting” plan which is massively back end loaded and has about $20 billion in cuts over the next year is absolutely without credit or merit. And the disingenuity on the side of Treasury to believe that someone would think otherwise is simply appalling. That said, while the markets look set to crash very shortly, the overabundance of catalysts means that it will be more than just the downgrade that throws risk into a tailspin. Although prepare for an all out onslaught by the Treasury on S&P as a scapegoat. After all in USSAA(negative outlook) it is never our fault: it is always someone else’s.