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Moody’s downgrades US debt rating outlook to negative

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Moody’s on Friday downgraded its outlook on United States (US) debt to negative from stable, one week before crucial budget negotiations in Congress.

For now, the agency has maintained its AAA rating on US government debt.

“In the context of higher interest rates, without effective fiscal policy measures to reduce government spending or increase revenues, Moody’s expects that the US’s fiscal deficits will remain very large, significantly weakening debt affordability,” the agency said.

The US Treasury immediately voiced its disagreement with Moody’s decision.

“The American economy remains strong, and Treasury securities are the world’s preeminent safe and liquid asset,” Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo in a statement.

United States President Joe Biden. PHOTO: AFP

“The Biden Administration has demonstrated its commitment to fiscal sustainability, including through the more than USD1 trillion in deficit reduction included in the June debt limit deal as well as President Biden’s budget proposals that would reduce the deficit by nearly USD2.5 trillion over the next decade.”

The US budget deficit, published last month for the 2023 fiscal year ending September 30, has widened to USD1.7 trillion.

Due to interest rate hikes by the US central bank to curb inflation, the cost of debt for the US has ballooned, with Washington paying USD162 billion more for interest in the last fiscal year compared to 2022.

Moody’s is the only major agency to maintain its rating for US sovereign debt at its highest level – underscoring the potential economic danger to the US of failing to reach an agreement to keep the government funded in one week’s time.

Without an agreement by November 17, the world’s largest economy would enter a so called  government shutdown.