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Fitch Lowers America’s Credit Rating: What It Means | Augusta Precious Metals

Stay informed about the recent credit rating downgrade by Fitch for America. Discover the implications and potential impacts on the economy. Get expert insights at Augusta Precious Metals

As the year 2023 draws to a close and media outlets prepare to unveil their Year in Review summaries, one particular narrative is poised to dominate the spotlight. It’s the tale of the clash surrounding the debt ceiling and the perilously close brush with crisis that the United States faced before achieving the historic feat of paying off its federal debt.

In January, the government encountered the $31.4 trillion debt ceiling. Yet, this increase held greater significance than a mere political procedure. Republicans contended that any agreement to elevate the cap should encompass substantial spending reductions, while Democrats argued for unconditional tax measures. Despite months of deliberation, a resolution remained elusive.

Finally, in late May, just before the Specter of a government default loomed large, a deal was struck. President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy successfully brokered an arrangement that entailed a series of spending cuts, effectively deferring the debt ceiling issue until early 2025.

However, even before the dust had settled on the freshly minted Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023, concerns emerged. These concerns underscored that while an immediate default might have been averted, the long-term fiscal landscape of the United States remains as uncertain as it was prior to the resolution.

In a June 5 article, Reuters spotlighted the oversight of the “US debt time bomb” in the debt ceiling agreement. The article featured insights from Dennis Ippolito, a fiscal expert and professor of public policy at Southern Methodist University, who commented, “If the focus is on the deficit and debt predicament, this arrangement falls short.”

Fitch Ratings, a member of the “big three” credit rating agencies, appears to share a similar sentiment. Just last week, Fitch unexpectedly downgraded the US debt rating from AAA to AA+, catching almost everyone off guard. The downgrade was attributed to mounting national obligations and a “consistent decline in government norms.”

While the initial market reaction to this news might have stirred ripples rather than waves, the aftermath was less dramatic. However, a downgrade in a country’s debt rating doesn’t guarantee success. Despite the initial restrained response from the global economy, the message conveyed by the downgrade is undeniably jarring. It underscores that the United States’ long-term fiscal prospects are likely unsustainable at this juncture.

To gain a comprehensive understanding, it’s imperative to delve deeper into the reasons behind Fitch’s decision to downgrade. I intend to explore this in the coming week. We’ll delve into Fitch’s rationale for the move and examine the reactions of several stakeholders, including another major credit rating agency.

Furthermore, we’ll assess the potential repercussions of this downgrade and evaluate its probable short-term consequences. Additionally, we’ll analyse the possible implications that this downgrade decision might impart about the future financial stability of the United States.

We’ll delve into these discussions shortly. But before that, let’s take an in-depth look at the actions undertaken by Fitch and the underlying motivations. Amidst these considerations, it’s worth exploring investment in gold, devising a gold investment plan, and staying informed about the best trends in gold stock, as these strategies might align with the evolving fiscal landscape.

We’ll delve into these discussions shortly. But before that, let’s take an in-depth look at the actions undertaken by Fitch and the underlying motivations. Amidst these considerations, it’s worth exploring investment in gold, devising a gold investment plan, and staying informed about the best trends in gold stock, as these strategies might align with the evolving fiscal landscape.

Fitch: ‘Expected financial deterioration’ is one reason for downgrade

For a considerable period, American government bonds, which represent the debt issued by a nation’s government to secure funds, have stood as a global paragon of safety. Supported by the unwavering trust and credit of the U.S. government, U.S. Treasuries rank among the world’s most secure assets. The Treasury bond market, recognized for its depth and liquidity, has gained a reputation as unparalleled.

However, it’s imperative to acknowledge that all debtors, including the U.S. government, undergo credit evaluations. Fitch Ratings’ recent decision indicates that Uncle Sam’s credit status has lost some of its previous luster. Fitch’s announcement last week of downgrading the U.S. credit rating from AAA, signifying the “highest creditworthiness,” to AA+, denoting “very high creditworthiness,” has underscored this shift.

While “very creditworthy” still conveys a positive notion, it’s noteworthy that this concerns the United States – a nation who’s once exalted “complete trust and creditworthiness” is no longer held in the highest regard by a significant credit rating agency.

Delving into the nuances between AAA and AA+ can aid in comprehending the implications linked to the downgrade decision. As per Fitch’s evaluation, a AAA rating signifies “minimal projected risk of default” and is bestowed in cases demonstrating an exceptionally robust capacity to meet financial obligations.

AA ratings, even when appended by a “+,” inevitably indicate a somewhat lower tier compared to AAA, yet they still denote substantial financial strength and creditworthiness. According to Fitch’s clarification, an AA rating implies an “expectation of very low default risk” and highlights a “highly strong ability to fulfill financial obligations.”

Regarding the rationale behind Fitch’s downgrade, the summary statement essentially conveys the following:

The downgrade of the United States’ rating mirrors the anticipated deterioration in fiscal conditions within the coming three years, alongside a significant and mounting burden of government debt. Furthermore, there’s an observable weakening of governance relative to peers rated ‘AA’ and ‘AAA’ over the past two decades, manifested through repeated instances of debt limit standoffs and eleventh-hour resolutions.

Fitch’s mention of a “twenty-year” period marked by fiscal and governance challenges underscores that accountability for these outcomes extends beyond the fiscal decisions of any single administration. The year 2001 saw the latest instance of a national budget surplus, while in recent years, both Republican and Democratic administrations have overseen annual budget deficits that have amounted to trillions.

While the downgrade occurred during President Biden’s tenure, it’s undeniable that the event is set against this backdrop. Consequently, when evaluating the reactions to this development, it’s unsurprising that the government’s principal financial overseer, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, adopted a somewhat defensive stance in her response.

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Blackstone’s Schwarzman: “Unfortunately, the Numbers Substantiate” the Decision to Downgrade

“I strongly disagree with Fitch Ratings’ decision,” Yellen asserted in a statement released following the downgrade verdict. “The revisions announced today by Fitch Ratings appear to be arbitrary and based on outdated data” he added.

Continuing to voice her dissent in subsequent public appearances, Yellen maintained her criticism of Fitch, stating, “Fitch’s conclusion remains baffling given the robust economic strength evident in the United States. My disagreement with Fitch’s assessment is resolute, and I firmly believe it lacks substantiation.”

As anticipated, the House Budget Committee led by Republicans offered a differing perspective, emphasizing the recent debt-ceiling negotiations:

In actuality, the credit ratings were lowered not due to Congress discussing expenditure reductions alongside the debt limit, but because the resulting spending cuts and broader reforms that the President approved were deemed inadequate to alter the nation’s fiscal trajectory.

On the other hand, Steve Schwarzman, the CEO of Blackstone, overseeing $1 trillion in alternative assets as the world’s largest manager, seems to opine that comprehensively assessing America’s fiscal situation elucidates the rationale behind Fitch’s actions.

“Unfortunately, the numbers back it up. Since the global financial crisis, we’ve witnessed a surge in debt. Looking forward, there seems to be a lack of fiscal restraint as we are currently grappling with substantial deficits.”

Indeed, Fitch’s reference to the nation’s prolonged period of subpar fiscal management, combined with Schwarzman’s implication that significant fiscal instability has been escalating since the financial crisis, might even prompt us to contemplate not why Fitch lowered America’s credit rating, but rather why the agency took so long to enact such a measure.

Certainly, this could be a question that analysts at another major credit rating agency, Standard & Poor’s (S&P), are currently musing over.

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S&P Analyst: Fitch’s Action “Validates” Our 2011 Choice to Lower the U.S. Debt Rating

Interestingly, Fitch’s recent action isn’t the initial instance of a downgrade in America’s debt history. Nearly 12 years prior to Fitch’s downgrade, in August 2011, S&P took the step of downgrading the United States’ debt rating from AAA to AA+.

What lent distinctiveness to S&P’s choice was that it marked the inaugural downgrade of America’s debt rating in the annals of the nation’s history.

Similar to Fitch’s downgrade, S&P’s downgrade followed shortly after the resolution of a contention over the debt ceiling. Just as in the most recent downgrade, S&P analysts in 2011 determined that the spending reforms stemming from the debt-ceiling negotiation didn’t truly reflect the savings they deemed acceptable as a substantial “initial payment” toward fiscal reform. Not long after, S&P went ahead with the unprecedented action of downgrading America’s credit rating for the first time ever.

Nikola Swann, the principal analyst for S&P’s sovereign credit rating during the 2011 downgrade, expressed a sense of being “vindicated” by last week’s Fitch action. Swann and his team faced significant criticism from both media outlets and the Obama administration – which held office during the downgrade – who accused them of basing their decision on questionable foundations, including political bias and unsound economic modelling.

However, Swann asserts that the Fitch downgrade provides validation for his insights from over a decade ago.

“The weaknesses we pointed out at that time, in comparison to countries with AAA ratings, regarding Washington’s ability to swiftly establish bipartisan consensus, especially in fiscal management, have deteriorated further,” Swann remarked. “This observation also applies to U.S. fiscal results.”

America’s credit rating has now experienced two downgrades by two of the world’s foremost ratings agencies in just over a decade. On the surface, the immediate and direct consequences of these decisions seem to be somewhat superficial, resulting in some short-term market volatility resonating across global markets.

However, what might extend beyond the superficial is what these downgrades could potentially indicate about the nation’s long-term fiscal perspective – an outlook that even several U.S. government agencies have classified as “unsustainable.” In this context, the gold investment stock, gold market investment, and top trends in gold stock might intersect with discussions of these downgrades, potentially influencing investment strategies and decisions.

Yellen’s Disagreement with Downgrade Contrasts Treasury’s Self-Evaluation of U.S. Fiscal Outlook as “Unsustainable”

“We do not expect the downgrade decision to have a significant immediate impact. While there’s undoubtedly a symbolic significance in formally acknowledging the erosion of America’s creditworthiness, the demanding state of the nation’s fiscal prospects has been widely accepted for a considerable time. As we’ve explored earlier, S&P opted to lower America’s credit rating more than a decade ago, and diverse government bodies have consistently echoed apprehensions regarding the country’s fiscal sustainability over the long run.

In this array of federal entities, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) remains resolute in its stance. In the wake of its February report that projected the potential doubling of public-held federal debt relative to the nation’s GDP in the next thirty years, CBO Director Phillip Swagel succinctly cautioned against the unsustainable fiscal trajectory.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has echoed a parallel sentiment. During early June, GAO’s Director of Strategic Issues, Jeff Arkin, testified before Congress about the instability of the nation’s fiscal path, classifying it as untenable over the extended period.

Unexpectedly, even the Treasury Department – which appears to contrast Treasury head Janet Yellen’s vigorous objections to the Fitch downgrade – recently indicated the nation’s progression along an unsustainable fiscal path and underscored the urgency of policy alterations.

Given the ongoing critiques and alarms about the nation’s potentially delicate fiscal future, the Fitch downgrade itself might not be revolutionary. Instead, it contributes to the ensemble of authoritative voices asserting that America’s fiscal prospects over the long term are uncertain.

This might be where the genuine significance of the Fitch downgrade resides – as a reinforcement of the credibility bolstering a narrative that implies, at least for now, the United States could be embarking on a demanding fiscal expedition.” Amidst these considerations, exploring gold investment for beginners, seeking investment for gold, and engaging with a reputable gold coins investment company could emerge as strategies to navigate this complex landscape.

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