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.
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.
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.
Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.
The decision was taken after the drug controller found the companies' response to a 17 July show-cause notice asking them to explain why their licences should not be suspended unsatisfactory
Baroda Cricket Association says continuing with Dave Whatmore as coach will be difficult due to BCCI's new SOPs
Whatmore, 66, was appointed by Baroda as the coach of its Ranji Trophy team and also Director of Cricket in April this year.