John Chambers, the chairman of the sovereign ratings committee at S&P, said Wednesday morning that a U.S. default would amount to an economic catastrophe worse than the collapse of Lehman Brothers.
When asked if the ratings agency would consider a second downgrade of the U.S.’s credit rating in little more than two years, Chambers told CBS “This Morning” that the agency would “look and see” how Congress responds over the next few days.
Chambers also explained, neatly, the glaring absurdity of the debt ceiling crisis:
“We have a budget system that’s unlike any other budget system that I’m familiar with. We have spending and revenue measures that have originated from an original act in Congress. Now it’s a question of funding them. The spending has already been approved, but now the elected officials are balking at funding that spending.”
It’d be worse than Lehman Brothers, he said, and it’d be “needless.” During the last debt-ceiling crisis in 2011, the S&P stripped the U.S. of its AAA credit rating, citing political instability. Fitch revised the outlook on their rating to negative from stable on Wednesday — citing, again, political instability.
An agreement in the Senate to raise the debt ceiling and reopen the government looks imminent, as Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell worked late into the night Tuesday to hash out a deal. It would fund the government through mid-January and raise the debt ceiling through Feb. 7. It also would set up a budget conference that would end no later than Dec. 13.
Here’s the clip of Chambers’ CBS appearance:
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