Sunday, August 07, 2011

US Credit Rating Downgrade- The S&P AA+ Club

Executive Summary: Standard and Poor's downgrade of the US credit rating can be evaluated in terms of signaling power, economic comparisons of countries, and a review of the members of the S&P AA+ rating club. We take a brief look at two countries with sovereign debt ratings the same as that of the United States. From the Desk of If-It-Talks-Like -A-Duck-But-Does-Not-Walk-Like-A-Duck... What do you do? Worry about a double dip instead!

For a little while, folks were focused on the possibility of the US economy slipping back into a recession. Then, Standard and Poor's downgraded the US Credit Rating to AA+. There are various ways to review the implications of this move. Below are three. We take a quick look at two countries in the S&P AA+ club. This is just a quick look, since my take is that the core focus needs to be the possibility of a double dip recession.

1. Signaling Power:

Review and compare economic fundamentals across the OECD and come to your own conclusion on whether this credit rating event is a response to an economic reality that have already been factored in by the market, or this rating provides new information (broadcasts a new signal?) to the market that needs an economic reaction.

Here is a scenario analysis of the downgrade's impact on U.S. based financial institutions sectors:

Here is another view of the impact of this downgrade:

2. Relative Macroecnomic Performance:

Review relative economic fundamentals across the globe, and reevaluate if there is a relative change in the US economy vis-a-vis the rest of the global economies, and if there is an across-the-board change in a set of economies across the global.

Here is Standard and Poor's view of the European economies and that the US credit rating downgrade means for them:

At the bottom of this article below is an opinion of the coupling of the APAC region economy with the US economy:

3. Review Members of the Standard & Poor's AA+ Credit Rating Club:

To get started, here is S&P's sovereign ratings page:;jsessionid=6TZhT1HpLpw3Slb1QjJZM1NR4wLTThcH4MfNp4JHbLZcGVHG0yhL!603717864?subSectorCode=39&start=100&range=50

Let's review two members of this club:
1. Belgium:
Here are some quick statistics on Belgium:

Belgium set a record for the number of days without a government. If you think there's a message in there about fractious politics, here an extract about Belgium as a poster child from the Economist:

“Most surprising, perhaps, maddeningly ungovernable Belgium is being held up by many as a model for debt-crippled euro-zone governments.”

If you thought Texas was its own country, here are more details on the political stress and strains at work in the country:

You could also review Belgium's interest rates in the context of the European Central Bank long-term interest rate statistics for member states.

In contrast to the Economist article about Belgium a few weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal reports growing concerns about Belgium's borrowing costs:

Les Belges thought setting a record for existing without a government was worth a party:

If you were Belgium, what would you do?

What do you think?

2. New Zealand:

Here is the NZ treasury's review of the NZ economy:

The factbook ( tells me that New Zealand has the following key industries:
Food processing,
Wood and paper products,
Transportation equipment,
Banking and insurance,

New Zealand's economy is coupled to the Australian economy, and you may review the industry sectors to understand weaknesses in the economy relative to the other members of the AA+ club. This would be my starter list:
- Banking and insurance,
- Textiles,
- Machinery.

While you are at it, here is New Zealand's reaction to the United States joining the AA+ club:

If you were New Zealand, how would you react?

What do you think?

No comments: