The argument for a downgrade is this:
The only credit risk is that the sovereign issuer of currency is unwilling to pay its debts, as Mosler says. An honest downgrade would be, "in voting down a clean extension of the credit ceiling, the majority in the House of Representatives of the United States demonstrated a willingness to consider defaulting on its debts as a bargaining ploy to get what it wants. This implies a risk of default greater than 0, and so US debt doesn't deserve the "absolutely no risk of default" rating of AAA.
The argument against a downgrade is this:
Even in the manufactured debt ceiling crisis, there was never any reason to believe that interest would not be paid on Treasury Debt nor that Treasury Debt that matured would be redeemed at its face value. What the Government would have done ~ for no good reason, since it has the legal authority to mint coinage with face values in the billions, which on deposit in the Fed would have allowed payment to have been cleared without requiring the issue of debt ~ would have been to miss appropriated payments which it was not legally bound to pay.
So as far as what S&P are rating, the actual payments on the actual Treasury bonds, bills and notes that Congress permitted the Treasury to issue ... there was no risk.
However, 10 years is a long time in politics, and 10 years of this bullshit, who can tell. So while its hard to make a case that bills and notes should be rated below AAA, AA+ for 10 year bonds may be a bit more plausible.
Bottom line, though, S&P is still lying to people when it pretends that the rating is about "ability to pay". Its only ever about willingness to pay for a government issuing debt in the currency it issues.
Midnight Oil ~ Read About It
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