JUPITER, Florida (April 28, 2011) – Weiss Ratings, an independent rating agency of U.S. financial institutions, has added coverage of sovereign debts, giving the United States a rating of C (Fair), and ranking it 33rd among 47 nations.
On the Weiss Ratings scale, which ranges from A (excellent) to E (very weak), a C rating is the approximate equivalent of a triple-B on the scales used by other credit rating agencies.
Weiss Ratings president Martin D. Weiss commented: “We believe that the AAA/Aaa assigned to U.S. sovereign debt by Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch is unfair to investors and savers, who are undercompensated for the risks they are taking. An honest rating is also urgently needed to help support the political compromises and collective sacrifices the U.S. must make in order to restore its finances.”
In the Weiss ratings scale, ranging from A (excellent) to E (very weak), only sovereign countries with stellar scores in four major areas — debt burdens, international stability, economic health and market acceptance — merit a grade of A- or better. Meanwhile, on the low end of the scale, only countries that demonstrate severe and/or consistent weaknesses in the four areas receive a grade of D+ or lower.
Currently, the data show that the U.S. government does not fall into either category: It ranks 44th in terms of its debt burden, primarily because of its large deficits; 32nd for international stability, due mostly to low reserves; and 27th for economic health because of recent boom-and-bust cycles. Helping to partially offset these low scores, however, the United States ranks 6th for its ability to borrow in the global marketplace, helping to raise its final grade to C.
The C rating signals that the current fiscal condition of the United States government is far weaker than recognized by the credit rating agencies. At the same time, it means that the U.S. currently retains enough borrowing power in the marketplace to give it the opportunity to take remedial steps. Still, there are grave risks for policymakers and investors, including the possibility of a vicious cycle that includes severe declines in U.S. bond prices and the U.S. dollar.
Below are the newly-released Weiss Sovereign Debt Ratings on 47 countries. For more information on the Weiss Ratings approach, refer to our white paper, “Introducing The Weiss Sovereign Debt Ratings.”
Weiss Ratings scale: A = excellent, B = good, C = fair, D = weak, E = very weak; plus and minus signs = top and bottom of grade ranges.
About Weiss Ratings
Weiss Ratings, the nation’s leading independent provider of bank, credit union and insurance company financial strength ratings, accepts no payments for its ratings from rated institutions. By adhering to its independent business model, Weiss outperformed Standard and Poor’s, Moody’s, A.M. Best and Duff & Phelps (now Fitch) in warning of future life and health insurance company failures according to a 1994 study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), while also outperforming its competitors in identifying the safest insurers, according to its follow-up study using the GAO’s research methodology. Similarly, Weiss was the only one to identify, in advance, nearly all major banks that failed or required a federal bailout in the 2008-2009 debt crisis.