Fitch affirms United States AAA rating
The sovereign liabilities of the United States, both in the value of the dollar and Treasurys, are likely to remain intact, according to Fitch Ratings. Therefore, the credit ratings agency Tuesday affirmed the country's long-term default and sovereign ratings at AAA. Moody's Investors Service affirmed the rating on August 3. The Fitch news means that of the big three ratings agencies, Standard & Poor's now stands alone in downgrading the U.S. to AA+. Fitch based its decision on the assumption the United States is fully capable of repaying its debt, though political infighting over budgetary concerns remain a red flag. Analysts will review Fitch's fiscal projections "in light of the outcome of the deliberations of the joint select committee (due by end November) as well as its near and medium-term economic outlook for the U.S. by the end of the year." Failure by the super committee to reach agreement on at least $1.2 trillion of deficit-reduction measures would likely result in negative rating action. The U.S. also holds lower levels of federal debt when compared to some other AAA-rated nations. Fitch estimates federal debt held by the public will be equivalent to approximately 70% of GDP this year compared to around 75% for the U.K. and France. Nonetheless, the United States is alone among nations with gild-edged ratings in maintaining a debt ceiling. This remains a negative for Fitch, which believe such a concept is bad for fiscal discipline. "It does not prevent budget decisions that will incur future debt issuance in excess of the ceiling, while 'last minute' agreements to raise it undermine confidence in the sovereign's 'willingness to pay'," Fitch said in a release. Write to Jacob Gaffney. Follow him on Twitter @jacobgaffney.