Fitch has put the United States’ AAA credit rating on “rating watch negative,” citing the absence of a debt-ceiling increase and brinksmanship in Washington. Fitch already had a longstanding “negative outlook” for the U.S.’s triple-A rating, and this move amounts to one more step down.
“Although Fitch continues to believe that the debt ceiling will be raised soon, the political brinkmanship and reduced financing flexibility could increase the risk of a U.S. default,” Fitch said in a press release. The agency also warned that “failure by the government to honour interest and/or principal payments on the due date of U.S. Treasury securities would lead Fitch to downgrade the U.S. sovereign IDR to ‘Restricted Default’ (RD) until the default event was cured.”
“We would also downgrade the rating of the affected issue(s) [the bonds on which payments are missed] to ‘B+’ from ‘AAA’, the highest rating for securities in default in expectation of full or near-full recovery,” but “the Country Ceiling would likely remain ‘AAA’,” Fitch said.
Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell 60 points on the news.