I’ve been watching the news and the reports are saying things to the effect of now that Standard & Poor’s (S&P) has issued their report, the ‘dust can settle’. REALLY?!? How can anyone say that in the face of the stock market tanking like it has over the past several days? Thanks a whole lot, S&P!!
I’ll just say this: S&P is fucked up. No…they are FUCKED the fuck up really messed up and, in my opinion, given their role in the housing bubble/debacle that propelled the US and, subsequently, parts of the world economy into this scary abyss, they should be considered wholly unqualified to issue ratings and determine who/what is credit worthy or not. They should be regulated and examined within an inch of their life and publicly flogged for contributing to turning back the economy to pre-2008 levels, forcing many of us to start from scratch as we watch our 401Ks turn into 101Ks.
Why do I say that? OK, here’s the deal: debt/credit ratings are based on four major factors: finances, debt (existing and projected debt levels), socioeconomic / ‘landscape’ issues, and management (which, in the case of a government, means political leadership and how they handle policy and ‘ruling’ over their subjects or operating within their governing laws).
After all of these factors are reviewed the rating agencies examine ability and willingness to pay their debts. Let’s talk about ability: Did they truly think that the ability of the US to pay its debts was ever an issue? This is a nation that, in worst case scenarios, could invoke the obscure 14th Amendment clause saying we HAVE to pay our bills no matter what OR we could simply print more money. Would that have long-term repercussions to the value of the money? Yes — but some would say our ‘paper’ has been worth not a whole lot since it was taken off the ‘gold standard’ (i.e., having gold as the support system that ‘backs’ and determines the value of the money) during the Nixon years. I’m not going to waste time going in to the fact that S&P miscalculated to the tune of well over $2 trillion in their budget deficit numbers (got math skills, you passive-agressive non-analysing mofos?)
That leaves the ‘willingness to pay’ issue. S&P would have had a firm leg to stand on if they said that they were basing their downgraded rating on the country’s willingness to pay. Who could argue that a government starts to look really unstable when you have people in some of the highest levels of government publicly stating that the US government should default so that we can ‘start over’. Then you have candidates running for the office of President of the United States agreeing with those friggin’ idiots and zealots representatives and being taken seriously as though killing off the middle class in this country and not jailing those bankers who, effectively, looted citizens’ retirement funds hasn’t done enough damage. Let’s not even talk about the completely irrational unwillingness, even temporarily, to increase revenues from readily available sources. But S&P didn’t say that…why not? Didn’t want to get involved in the political aspects — is that it? Then what IS this about — payback for the suggestion that your agency has way too much power and you’re not doing your job by, you know, EVALUATING and truly analysing?
S&P SHOULD be regulated out of existence for this call since they suffered no consequences for not letting the entire investing public know that they didn’t know how to evaluate those AAA-rated housing securities backed time bombs. Shame on them…because now we’re left to clean up an even bigger mess than the first one they contributed to.