1. Demotion

    S&P Downgrades U.S. Rating

    Trader John W. Panin of JNK Securites Corp. works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on August 4, 2011. The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 4.3 percent Thursday, its worst one-day drop in more than two years, as global markets melted down over fears of another world economic downturn. The Dow was down 512.76 points to 11,383.68; the broader S&P 500 lost 4.8 percent to 1,200.07, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite plunged 5.1 percent to 2,556.39.    AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

    Stan Honda / AFP / Getty Images

    Standard & Poor's lowered the U.S. long-term debt rating to AA-plus from AAA in part because of Washington's political paralysis during the debt-ceiling debate. In announcing the first such move in 70 years, the agency's official statement said “the gulf between the political parties” reduced confidence in the government's ability to handle its finances. "The conclusion was pretty much motivated by all of the debate about the raising of the debt ceiling," said John Chambers, chairman of the S&P's sovereign ratings committee, "It involved a level of brinksmanship greater than what we had expected earlier in the year."

    Read it at The Wall Street Journal