Rating the world: Standard and Poor's Sovereign ratings

Standard and Poor's rates 126 countries on their capacity to meet financial commitments. Here are the ratings as on June 2011.

FP Staff December 20, 2014 05:21:11 IST
Rating the world: Standard and Poor's Sovereign ratings

In recent weeks, much attention has been focused on the possibility of a US debt default and a credit ratings downgrade.

While the debt default was averted by a last-minute deal in Congress, which was signed into law by President Obama, the possibility of a ratings downgrade still looms large.

In theory, the typical impact of a ratings downgrade is an increase in the cost of borrowing, although there are instances to the contrary.

Ratings agencies are the institutions that rate a nation's - and companies' - debt. Standard & Poors is the biggest and arguably the most influential, followed by Moody's Investor Service and then their smaller rival, Fitch Ratings.

Of course, you could argue that today, because of their tainted past, they are far less influential than before.

After the 2008 global financial crisis erupted, several influential commentators blamed ratings agencies for handing out top ratings to complex mortgage bonds that ultimately turned out to be worthless.

Rating the world Standard and Poors Sovereign ratings

The US Capitol building. Mark Wilson/Getty

Yet they continue to judge economies that massively ruined their public balance sheets trying to rescue banks that sold such worthless bonds.

More than one expert will tell you that their track record has not exactly been exemplary.

In the recent past, ratings agencies have downgraded three euro zone countries over debt woes.

Now attention is focusing on the US, which has a national debt of $14.3 trillion.

The graphic above looks at Standard and Poor's sovereign ratings of different nations around the world.

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