By Doug Young – 22 August 2023

american storm


In a significant development, Fitch Ratings, a globally recognized credit rating agency, has downgraded America’s credit rating from AAA to AA+, raising concerns about the nation’s economic stability.

Fitch’s decision comes amidst long-standing worries about the country’s high debt levels, recurring debt limit standoffs, and last-minute resolutions over the past two decades, which have contributed to a lack of fiscal discipline.

Fitch Ratings, founded in 1913, is one of the ‘Big Three’ credit rating agencies, alongside Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s. These agencies play a vital role in assessing the creditworthiness of governments, corporations, and financial instruments.

Fitch’s decision to downgrade America’s credit rating reflects its expert analysis of various economic factors and its assessment of the nation’s ability to manage its debt responsibly.

Key Concerns

A major concern highlighted by Fitch is the repeated debt limit standoffs that have plagued the United States over the past two decades. These standoffs occur when the government reaches its borrowing limit and Congress must pass a resolution to raise the debt ceiling, allowing the government to meet its financial obligations.

The repeated nature of these standoffs and the last-minute resolutions have undermined investor confidence and raised questions about the nation’s ability to manage its fiscal responsibilities effectively.

High debt levels have been a long-standing issue for the United States, and Fitch’s downgrade serves as a reminder of the challenges the country faces in managing its fiscal responsibilities. The agency has expressed concerns about the growing budget deficit, which has been exacerbated by increased government spending during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The fiscal year 2001 was the last time the United States had a budget surplus. Since then, the country has experienced persistent budget deficits, leading to a significant increase in the national debt. Fitch’s downgrade serves as a stark reminder that the trajectory of the nation’s fiscal position needs urgent attention and action.

The Government’s Response

In response to the downgrade, Janet Yellen, the Treasury Secretary of the current administration, expressed her disagreement with Fitch’s decision. Yellen emphasized the resilience of the U.S. economy and the government’s commitment to addressing the nation’s fiscal challenges. However, some observers agree with Fitch’s decision, citing the need for comprehensive fiscal reforms and a long-term strategy to reduce the budget deficit.

Implications of the Downgrade

The downgrade by Fitch has immediate implications for the United States. A reduced credit rating can lead to an increase in borrowing costs, rendering it more expensive for the government to fund its debt. This, in turn, can lead to higher interest rates for consumers and businesses, potentially hampering economic growth.

A lower credit rating can also weaken the nation’s standing in the global financial markets, making it more challenging to attract foreign investment.

Fitch’s decision should not be viewed in isolation, as other credit rating agencies, such as Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s, may also reassess America’s creditworthiness based on these developments.

How Serious is This?

While Fitch’s decision does not guarantee an immediate crisis, it does serve as a wake-up call for policymakers to address the underlying issues affecting the nation’s economic health. It underscores the need for prudent fiscal management, structural reforms, and a comprehensive plan to reduce the deficit and stimulate sustainable economic growth.

As the United States navigates the consequences of the credit rating downgrade, close monitoring of the situation and constructive dialogue among policymakers, economists, and citizens are essential. The nation must strive for collective efforts and commit to sound economic policies that restore confidence and drive long-term stability and growth.

Disclaimer: Any views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any government or financial institution.