Steinitz: Lowered US credit rating is a warning sign

By JPOST.COM STAFF, REUTERS
August 6, 2011 18:56

Finance Minister says "despite confidence in American economic growth, we are still steering the ship of the Israeli economy through rough seas."

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FINANCE MINISTER Yuval Steinitz

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz 311. (photo credit: Courtesy: Ministry of Finance spokesperson)

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz on Saturday commented on S&P's lowering of the US credit rating, saying, "The Finance Ministry has held a series of consultations in recent months about the debt crisis in the United States and Europe, and the possibility of a lowered US credit rating has been taken into account. Despite our full confidence in American economic growth as well as recovery from economic recession, the lowered rating is a warning sign reminding us that we are still steering the ship of the Israeli economy through rough seas," Steinitz said.

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The United States lost its top-notch AAA credit rating from Standard & Poor's on Friday in an unprecedented reversal of fortune for the world's largest economy.

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S&P cut the long-term US credit rating by one notch to AA-plus on concerns about the government's budget deficits and rising debt burden. The move is likely to raise borrowing costs eventually for the American government, companies and consumers.

"The downgrade reflects our opinion that the fiscal consolidation plan that Congress and the Administration recently agreed to falls short of what, in our view, would be necessary to stabilize the government's medium-term debt dynamics," S&P said in a statement.

The decision follows a bitter political battle in Congress over cutting spending and raising taxes to reduce the government's debt burden and allow its statutory borrowing limit to be raised.

On Aug. 2 President Barack Obama signed legislation designed to reduce the fiscal deficit by $2.1 trillion over 10 years. But that was well short of the $4 trillion in savings S&P had called for as a good "down payment" on fixing America's finances.

The political gridlock in Washington and the failure to seriously address US long-term fiscal problems came against the backdrop of slowing US economic growth and led to the worst week in the US stock market in two years this week.

The S&P 500 stock index fell 10.8 percent in the past 10 trading days on concerns that the US economy may head into another recession and because the European debt crisis has been growing worse as it spreads to Italy.


A Federal Reserve spokesperson said on Friday that Standard & Poor's ratings downgrade of US debt does not affect the operation of the Fed's emergency lending window or its buying and selling of Treasury securities to conduct monetary policy.



"The decision by Standard and Poor's has no implications for the operation of the Federal Reserve's discount window or the conduct of open market operations," a Fed spokesperson said.


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