08.10.11

Where the U.S. Ranks On Credit

The Standard & Poor’s downgrade removes America from an elite group, but still leaves it in pretty good company. The Daily Beast looks at entities that are still AAA, like Britain; and such U.S. states as Iowa, that share our new AA+ rating, and also Belgium; and those that are at the bottom of the ladder—Greece with its CC rating.

Ratings agency Standard & Poor’s has downgraded the United States’ debt, which means America has lost its coveted AAA rating and has to settle for AA+ instead. A country with the coveting triple-A rating can borrow money at very low cost, because its bonds are considered safe. United States bonds are backed by the “full faith and credit of the U.S. government,” and the S&P downgrade marks the first time the world’s largest economy has lost the top mark. Only a few countries still possess the triple-A rating. The Daily Beast has compiled a list of countries, states, and companies with ratings that are better, worse, or the same as that of the United States.

Better

Notwithstanding the U.S. national downgrade, S&P reported that some American states will be allowed to keep their AAA ratings. Ironically, states that do not rely heavily on federal assistance, and will not need to in the near future, will likely maintain higher ratings than the U.S. government. Meanwhile, four U.S. companies maintain a AAA rating, and therefore, rank higher than the United States in credit-worthiness. Below are a few examples of entities with triple-A credit ratings.

United Kingdom
France
Germany
Guernsey
Isle of Man
Luxembourg
Liechtenstein
Swiss Confederation
Delaware
Florida
Iowa
Missouri
North Carolina
Utah
Wyoming
Microsoft
ExxonMobil
Johnson & Johnson

Same

America’s new AA+ is really just one level below the old AAA rating, and still far better than those of most of the world’s other countries. In its decision, S&P predicted that the debt would be 79 percent of the entire U.S. economy by 2015—which warrants the double-A+. The only other country with the AA+ rating is Belgium, though there are others at the slightly lower AA:

Belgium (AA+)
Abu Dhabi (AA)
Chile (AA)
Kuwait (AA)
Spain (AA)

Worse

A wide variety of countries have ratings below that of the United States. For perspective, Greece has the lowest rating of any country in the world, and its debt will be 149 percent of GDP in 2015.

China (AA-)
India (BBB-)
Israel (AA-)
Russia (BBB+)
Japan (AA-)
Greece (CC)