Feb 26 2013


UK’s credit rating downgraded from AAA to AA1 by Moody’s

Press Association, The Guardian

Friday 22 February 2013 18.05 EST

The agency warned that “subdued” growth prospects and a “high and rising debt burden” were weighing on the economy. But Osborne said the loss of the gold-plated status did not mean the government should change course.

“Tonight we have a stark reminder of the debt problems facing our country – and the clearest possible warning to anyone who thinks we can run away from dealing with those problems,” he said.

“Far from weakening our resolve to deliver our economic recovery plan, this decision redoubles it.

Osborne humiliated as UK loses AAA credit rating

By George Eaton, New Statesman

Published 22 February 2013 22:50

Back in February 2010, a few months before he entered the Treasury, George Osborne declared: “Our first benchmark is to cut the deficit more quickly to safeguard Britain’s credit rating. I know that we are taking a political gamble to set this up as a measure of success.” A gamble it was and how it has backfired on the Chancellor. Tonight, Moody’s became the first rating agency to strip the UK of its AAA credit rating (downgrading it to AA1), citing the “continuing weakness” in the UK’s growth outlook and its “high and rising debt burden”.

For Osborne, who chose to make our credit rating the ultimate metric of economic stability, it is a humiliating moment. Not my words, but his. During one of his rhetorical assaults against Labour in August 2009, he warned: “Britain faces the humiliating possibility of losing its international credit rating”. Rarely before or after becoming Chancellor, did Osborne miss an opportunity to remind us just how important he thought the retention of our AAA rating was.

By Osborne’s own logic, then, his deficit plan is no longer credible.

The economic consequences of the downgrade are unlikely to be significant. France and the US, for instance, have seen no rise in their borrowing costs since losing their AAA ratings (in fact, yields on US and French bonds have fallen). All the evidence we have suggests that the market is prepared to lend to countries that can borrow in their own currencies (such as the UK) and that enjoy the benefits of an independent monetary policy, regardless of their credit ratings or their debt levels. But the politics of the downgrade are toxic for Osborne.

Still, you might ask, why should we listen to Moody’s, the agency that gave AIG an AAA rating just a month before it collapsed? The answer is simple: we shouldn’t. But this doesn’t alter the fact that Osborne did. For political purposes, he used Britain’s credit rating as a stick to beat Labour with. He can hardly complain if others now use this move against him. Tonight, the Chancellor has been hoist with his own petard.

“I don’t care what the ratings agencies think about anything, but if it’s a stark reminder of anything it’s a stark reminder that you’re the stupidest fucking person on the face of the planet.”- Atrios

“Often “austerity” and the “need” for budget cuts are just excuses to kicks the poors and olds and ram through whatever horrible agenda you wanted to ram through in the first place. But I think the simpleton Gideon Osborne really believes it. He likes kicking the olds and the poors too, but he’ll nonetheless be proved fucking right.

Except he won’t.

And for some reason Labour is unwilling to just say Shit Is Fucked Up And Bullshit, austerity bites, and we gotta step on the gas.”- Atrios

The condensed Moody’s downgrade

By Alex Hern, New Statesman

Published 23 February 2013 10:43

Some will focus on the fact that Moody’s analysis starts with poor growth as the basic factor for Osborne’s failure. Others will note that Moody’s is still a firm advocate of high-speed deficit reduction.

Still others, myself included, will argue that, apart from the fact that the Chancellor has been hoist by his own petard, all the news really does is prove yet again that ratings agencies aren’t very good at their jobs. Moody’s recognises that Britain’s economic travails stem from depressed growth, but its analysis seems incapable of progressing on from there. Taken as a whole, the agency is saying, with a straight face, that “Britain’s attempts to cut its debt have harmed its attempts to cut its debt, and this could harm its attempts to cut its debt”, and it sees nothing problematic with that.

Really, nothing in Moody’s analysis matters. The only important part of it is that one missing A, and the effect that has on Osborne’s credibility.

1 comment

  1. ek hornbeck

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