Fitch Sovereign Ratings: Here’s Why The U.S. is Still AAA

Fitch Sovereign Ratings Head David Riley spoke with FOX Business Network about the agency’s decision leave the United States credit rating at a triple-A. Riley said while the agency was “concerned by the failure of Washington again to be able to reduce the U.S. budget deficit,” they are “unlikely” to downgrade the U.S. credit rating before the next Presidential election. Riley went on to say Fitch’s primarily concern is with “the European sovereign debt crisis” to which the U.S. is a “a bystander to the car crash we are witnessing.

On whether there is a chance they would downgrade the U.S. deficit prior to 2013:

“In the absence of some very bad developments, I think it is unlikely we would change the rating before 2013. We think it’s right to wait until we see the outcome of the elections, and a new administration and new congress comes in place. We actually think the U.S. economic outlook is the basis for a sustained recovery. There are two main risks facing the U.S.; one is the political gridlock in Washington and the other is the U.S. being a bystander to the car crash we are witnessing in Europe.”

On Fitch’s decision not to downgrade the United States credit rating:

“We were concerned by the failure of Washington again to be able to reduce the U.S. budget deficit. We are now expecting the hard choices that have to be made by the American public. Hopefully, Washington in 2013 will come up with a plan that will put finances on a sustainable path.”

On whether he is more concerned about the U.S. deficit or the European debt crisis:

“It’s the European sovereign debt crisis which is generating a tremendous amount of concern.”

On his response to people who are critical to the legitimacy of the ratings his agency provides:

“Our track record when it comes to sovereign ratings is pretty good. That doesn’t mean investors should solely rely on the opinions and judgments of a rating agency. We have made big mistakes, there is no doubt about it in terms of some of the ratings with respect to U.S. subprime. We have been working very hard to address those issues. We have been delivering our message and concerns for some time about the state of public finances. To be frank, I think some of the criticism is simply shooting the messenger.”

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