The reputation of the ratings agencies is terrible, and when it comes to sovereign credit they’ve been way behind the market itself in identifying problems.
Here’s a chance for companies like Moody’s and S&P to be of use. They should warn that the AAA-rating of the US is under serious threat over the attempts to use the debt limit as a political tool, as the GOP is pushing right now.
To start, it’s objectively true: When you’re discussing actions that could lead to default, then it’s insane to have a AAA rating.
But beyond that, it’d be useful. Whereas the agencies are fond of making vague, far-off sounding statements regarding the US debt situation (e.g. “If at some point Washington doesn’t shoe credible commitment, blah blah blah, eventually, blah blah blah…”), this would be a substantive message, with timely relevance.
Of course they’ll blow it, because it would be too boat rocking.