Three days ago, I wrote a quick post that said, basically, that no ratings agency would downgrade the credit rating of the United States at this time. Wrong again.
Not that a downgrade isn’t deserved. It is deserved. But that’s beside the point.
The global financial system is particularly fragile at the moment. Now is not the time to be adding greater elements of risk into the mix.
To quote myself (and why not, it’s Friday night):
Any kind of credit “event,” no matter how distant geographically, has the potential of being “disruptive,” in the way that Lehman was “disruptive” in the autumn of 2008. The simple fact is that the global economy cannot handle a “Lehman event” right now.
The lads at Standard & Poor’s apparently disagree. Tonight they downgraded the credit rating of The United States of America. It’s a correct mathematical decision. It’s an insane political decision, on just about every level.
They could issue this downgrade any time over the next 12-18 months. Everyone knows it is deserved, so it’s not like it would come as any big surprise. But to do it now, with Europe literally hanging by a thread, is irresponsible.
Of course, it’s possible that Monday the markets will open with a shrug and the world will move along as it did last week and the week before. But it’s equally possible that this news will cause a contagious market panic, the consequences of which could induce a full-on financial crisis. Why anyone at Standard & Poor’s thought that was a risk worth taking is beyond comprehension.
But here we are.
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