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Former S&P Ratings Chairman Claims U.S. Weaker Now than During 2011 Downgrade

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Former S&P Chairman: U.S. Weaker Now than During 2011 Downgrade

According to the former chairman of S&P's Sovereign Rating Committee, the United States finds itself in a weaker position now than it did during the agency's downgrade of its sovereign credit rating in 2011. The country's largest economy is once again facing the possibility of a government shutdown unless lawmakers can pass a spending bill before the October 1 deadline. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is under pressure to secure the support of his fellow Republicans, but faces resistance from hard-right members demanding deeper domestic spending cuts.

Warnings of Consequences

Moody's has cautioned that a government shutdown would harm the country's credit, following Fitch's downgrade of the U.S. sovereign credit rating in August. The downgrade was a result of the latest political standoff over raising the debt ceiling. S&P had controversially downgraded the long-term credit rating in 2011, citing political polarization during a debt ceiling dispute.

Signs of Weak Governance

John Chambers, the former chairman of S&P's Sovereign Rating Committee, expressed his belief that a government shutdown is likely and sees it as a sign of weak governance. Chambers noted that the U.S. fiscal position is currently even weaker than it was in 2011, with the deficit of the general government exceeding 7% of GDP and government debt reaching 120% of GDP. He highlighted the fractiousness of the political settings and the occurrence of government shutdowns, fears of debt default, and the failed coup attempt on January 6, 2021, as indicators of the weakened governance. House Speaker McCarthy faces challenges in gathering support from his Republican colleagues, as the hardline Freedom Caucus has stalled budget negotiations by demanding deeper domestic spending cuts. McCarthy may seek assistance from Democrats to avoid a shutdown, but there are discussions among hardline Republicans about ousting him as Speaker if such a compromise is reached. In August, Fitch downgraded the U.S. credit rating, citing expected fiscal deterioration and erosion of governance due to repeated debt-limit political standoffs. However, many prominent bank executives and economists dismissed the downgrade as largely inconsequential. The current situation underscores the need for effective governance and bipartisan cooperation to address the fiscal challenges facing the United States. The outcome of the upcoming budget negotiations will have significant implications for the country's economic stability and global reputation.

Implications of U.S. Fiscal Weakness for New Business Ventures

The recent assertion by the former chairman of S&P's Sovereign Rating Committee that the U.S. is in a weaker position now than during the 2011 credit rating downgrade could have significant implications for new business formations.

Impact on Business Confidence

The prospect of a government shutdown and the potential harm to the country's credit, as warned by Moody's, could create an environment of uncertainty. This could deter entrepreneurs from launching new ventures and may cause investors to hesitate in backing new businesses, particularly in sectors heavily reliant on government contracts or funding.

Weak Governance and Economic Stability

John Chambers' remark about the likelihood of a government shutdown being a sign of weak governance could further undermine confidence in the U.S. economy. This could impact foreign direct investment, which is crucial for the growth of new businesses. The fact that the U.S. fiscal position is weaker now than it was in 2011, with a higher deficit and debt-to-GDP ratio, could potentially lead to tighter fiscal policies, affecting the availability of capital for new businesses.
Political Fractiousness and Business Environment
The political fractiousness highlighted by Chambers, including the occurrence of government shutdowns, fears of debt default, and the failed coup attempt, could contribute to an unstable business environment. This could pose challenges for new businesses in terms of strategic planning and risk management. In light of these factors, it is clear that the current fiscal and political situation in the U.S. could pose significant challenges for new business formations. The outcome of the upcoming budget negotiations will be closely watched by entrepreneurs and investors alike.
Story First Published at: https://www.cnbc.com/2023/09/27/former-sp-ratings-chair-us-is-weaker-now-than-when-we-downgraded-in-2011.html
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