America's credit rating got downgraded again. Here's what happened the last time | CNN Business (2023)

A version of this story first appeared in CNN Business’ Before the Bell newsletter. Not a subscriber? You can sign upright here. You can listen to an audio version of the newsletter by clicking the same link.

New York CNN

Fitch Ratings downgraded US long-term debt late on Tuesday from AAA to AA+, citing this spring’s debt ceiling standoff as a major reason.

That’s a huge blow to the US. The global financial system relies on the promise that the US government will always pay back its debts. That trust makes the US dollar the most widely held currency worldwide. This downgrade threatens to complicate that.

Still, US markets barely reacted to the news in after-hours trading on Tuesday, and US Treasuries were holding steady.

But that doesn’t mean they won’t react, eventually. US stock futures were pointing to a weaker open Wednesday, and global markets stumbled overnight.

(Video) Here’s what the downgrade of U.S. credit rating by Fitch means for the market

Past performance is no guarantee of future results, but a look back at market history can give us an idea of what might happen.

The U.S. flag flies over the side entrance to the New York Stock Exchange in New York Tuesday, July 18, 2023. A strong stock market turnaround is helping spur a resurgence in companies going public a year after the number of Wall Street newcomers fell to the lowest level since the Great Recession. Some 55 initial public offerings, or IPOs, have priced so far this year, raising $9.7 billion in proceeds, according to IPO tracker Renaissance Capital. (AP Photo/J. David Ake) J. David Ake/AP Stocks sink after historic US credit rating downgrade

In the midst of the very tense debt ceiling standoff of 2011, Standard and Poor’s downgraded US debt for the first time in history.

That downgrade happened on a Friday afternoon, so investors had a weekend to think about their next move.

It didn’t help.

On the first trading day after the downgrade the S&P 500 plummeted by 6.5%. Markets experienced their most volatile week since the global financial meltdown in 2008, and it took another six months for stocks to climb back up to their previous highs.

Still, this time could be different. Investors know this devil — they’ve been through it before, and they saw that the downgrade didn’t actually raise US borrowing costs significantly or hurt Treasury markets. US Treasuries actually rose as investors barreled out of stocks.

(Video) Here's why Fitch downgraded U.S. long-term rating to AA+ from AAA

“My sense is that the Fitch downgrade of the US credit rating is an insignificant development and will not move financial markets or the economy,” said Joseph Brusuelas, chief economist at RSM US. “As long as the Federal Reserve continues to treat US issued paper as AAA rated credit so will financial market participants.”

A little bit more: This May, Fitch agency put the country’s perfect AAA rating on watch as the debt ceiling fight raged on. During that time, lawmakers in Congress were engaged in a bitter dispute over raising the debt limit to keep the federal government from defaulting on its financial obligations. The deal was ultimately signed on June 2, just three days before the US Treasury said the US could run out of money to pay its bills.

“In Fitch’s view, there has been a steady deterioration in standards of governance over the last 20 years, including on fiscal and debt matters, notwithstanding the June bipartisan agreement to suspend the debt limit until January 2025,” Fitch said of the downgrade.

Visitors outside the US Capitol building in Washington, DC, US, on Tuesday, May 23, 2023. Nathan Howard/Bloomberg/Getty Images 'It's going to be catastrophic:' The debt ceiling standoff is worrying for some Americans

The downgrade, said Fitch, reflected the “expected fiscal deterioration” of the country over the next three years. The rating agency cited the “high and growing” government debt, which currently stands at more than $32 trillion (that’s just under $100,000 for every single person in America).

Former US Treasury Secretary, Larry Summers, called the decision bizarre. “The United States faces serious long-run fiscal challenges. But the decision of a credit rating agency today, as the economy looks stronger than expected, to downgrade the United States is bizarre and inept,” he said on Twitter, now formally known as X.

The current US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Tuesday said that the timing of the downgrade felt off.

(Video) Why did Fitch downgrade America's credit rating?

“I strongly disagree with Fitch Ratings’ decision,” said Yellen. “The change by Fitch Ratings announced today is arbitrary and based on outdated data.”

The US stock market just had its best year — so far — since 1997

Just before the Fitch downgrade, the stock market managed to notch its best performance through July in 26 years, according to data from S&P Dow Jones Indices.

The benchmark S&P 500 index closed last month with a boost of about 21% for the year.

Along with the Nasdaq Composite, the S&P 500 notched its fifth winning month in a row in July, marking the broad-based index’s longest monthly winning streak since 2021.

Gains in the US market this year have largely been driven by the so-called “Magnificent Seven,” a group of stocks favored for their simultaneously defensive and growth qualities as well as their roles in developing artificial intelligence products. Tech behemoths Nvidia (NVDA), Apple (AAPL), Amazon (AMZN), Alphabet (GOOG), Meta Platforms, Microsoft (MSFT) and Tesla (TSLA) comprise the group.

Read more here.

Americans are ‘unwittingly funding’ blacklisted Chinese companies, Congressional panel says

A Congressional select committee is investigating BlackRock (BLK), the world’s largest asset manager, and MSCI, one of the biggest providers of index funds, to determine whether they are investing Americans’ savings in Chinese companies blacklisted by the US government for security and human rights issues.

(Video) U.S. credit downgrade: What you need to know

The Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party of the US House of Representatives sent letters to BlackRock CEO Larry Fink and MSCI CEO Henry Fernandez on Monday notifying both parties that it is investigating their investments in certain Chinese companies, according to documents reviewed by CNN.

“Our review has shown that, as a direct result of decisions made by MSCI, these Americans are now unwittingly funding PRC companies that develop and build weapons for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) — the PRC’s military — and advance the CCP’s stated mission of technological supremacy,” wrote the Select Committee’s Chairman, Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, and its ranking member, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, a Democrat from Illinois. The committee sent an identical letter to BlackRock.

By sending massive amounts of American money to companies linked to the Chinese military and human right abuses, the letter said, BlackRock and MSCI are “exacerbating an already significant national security threat and undermining American values.”

The Committee said it found that BlackRock had invested more than $429 million across five funds into Chinese companies that “act directly against the interests of the United States.”

They also said that they identified at least 40 companies listed on the MSCI indexes that are designated on governmental red-flag lists.

“The majority of our clients’ investments in China are through index funds, and we are one of 16 asset managers currently offering US index funds investing in Chinese companies,” BlackRock said in a statement to CNN. “With all investments in China and markets around the world, BlackRock complies with all applicable US government laws. We will continue engaging with the Select Committee directly on the issues raised.”

MSCI did not respond to requests for comment.

(Video) US Credit Rating at Risk of Fitch Cut on Debt Limit Impasse


Which 10 banks were downgraded? ›

Here's the list of banks downgraded:
  • Commerce Bancshares.
  • BOK Financial Corporation.
  • M&T Bank Corporation.
  • Old National Bancorp.
  • Prosperity Bancshares.
  • Amarillo National Bancorp.
  • Webster Financial Corporation.
  • Fulton Financial Corporation.
16 hours ago

What does it mean when your credit rating is downgraded? ›

Companies and governments get ratings that show how likely they are to pay back their debts. If a company or government's rating gets downgraded, it means their financial situation has worsened, and they are seen as riskier to lend money to.

What 10 banks did Moody's downgrade? ›

The banks downgraded are Amarillo National, Associated Banc-Corp, BOK Financial, Commerce Bancshares, Fulton Financial, M&T Bank, Old National Bancorp, Pinnacle Financial Partners, Prosperity Bank and Webster Financial Corp.

Did Moody's downgrade Truist? ›

M&T, Truist and other lenders trade lower. Moody's Investors Service downgraded 10 regional banks, sending financial shares lower and renewing concerns about the sector's health in the face of higher interest rates and recent bank failures.

What banks are failing in the US? ›

List of Recent Failed Banks
Bank NameCityAcquiring Institution
First Republic BankSan FranciscoJPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A.
Signature BankNew YorkFlagstar Bank, N.A.
Silicon Valley BankSanta ClaraSilicon Valley Bridge Bank, N.A.
Jul 1, 2023

What banks failed in the Great Recession? ›

2Hume BankMarch 7, 2008
3Bear StearnsMarch 16, 2008
4ANB Financial N.A.May 9, 2008
5First Integrity Bank, N.A.May 30, 2008
22 more rows

Has the US credit rating ever been downgraded? ›

Rating agency peer Fitch has downgraded the United States by a notch to AA+ due to fiscal deterioration over the next three years and repeated down-to-the-wire debt ceiling negotiations.

Did the US credit rating get downgraded? ›

Topline: On August 1, 2023, Fitch Ratings, one of only three private credit rating firms, downgraded its U.S. credit rating from AAA to AA+.

Why did the US credit rating get downgraded? ›

Last week, Fitch Ratings downgraded the United States' credit rating from AAA to AA+. The agency cited the recent standoff over raising the country's debt ceiling, the country's debt burden, and the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol.

Which bank failed in the Great Depression? ›

It was the December 1930 failure of the Bank of United States, a modest bank with a grandiose name, that Cohen recalled. Triggered by a sudden run on deposits, the bank faced a liquidity crisis that the Federal Reserve System, and its fellow banks, failed to address.

How many banks failed in the Great Recession? ›

In 2008, 25 banks failed, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation's database. Included in that count is Washington Mutual, the largest bank failure in US history. Over the three years that followed, nearly 400 banks failed.

How many banks have went under so far? ›

There have been 563 bank failures since 2000. The majority of bank failures were linked to the 2008 financial crisis.

Is Truist Bank financially strong? ›

The bank has more than $540 billion in assets, making Truist the seventh largest bank in the U.S. by total assets.

What bank turned into Truist? ›

Truist is the product of the merger between BB&T and SunTrust, the largest bank deal in more than a decade. In late 2019, BB&T and SunTrust completed the largest bank deal in a decade to become Truist Financial Corp (TFC -4.08%), the sixth-largest bank by assets in the U.S.

Is Truist Bank laying off employees? ›

Truist laid off roughly 80 employees in its Atlanta and Memphis, Tennessee, offices on Thursday, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.

What 10 banks are too big to fail? ›

Companies Considered Too Big to Fail
  • Bank of America Corp.
  • The Bank of New York Mellon Corp.
  • Citigroup Inc.
  • The Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
  • JPMorgan Chase & Co.
  • Morgan Stanley.
  • State Street Corp.
  • Wells Fargo & Co.

How many banks have went down? ›

Bank failures happen more often than you might think—there have been 567 in the U.S. since we entered the new millennium. That's an average of almost 25 per year.

What banks no longer exist? ›

About the FDIC:
Bank NameBankCityCityClosing DateClosing
Ericson State BankEricsonFebruary 14, 2020
City National Bank of New JerseyNewarkNovember 1, 2019
Resolute BankMaumeeOctober 25, 2019
Louisa Community BankLouisaOctober 25, 2019
55 more rows

What were the names of the banks that collapsed? ›

First Republic Bank, Silicon Valley Bank, and Signature Bank have all shut down in 2023. Here's a brief overview of why these banks failed.


1. What the US Debt Downgrade Means for Stock and Bond Markets - GMB Ep 193
(Three Oaks Wealth)
2. Fitch downgrades U.S. credit rating from AAA to AA+
(NBC News)
3. Fitch's credit downgrade should be wake up call for the U.S. government, says B. Riley's Art Hogan
(CNBC Television)
4. Rating agency Fitch's downgrade of U.S. credit rating is hitting the U.S. stock market #Shorts
(CNBC Television)
5. U.S. credit downgrade is ‘a very, very puzzling decision’: Paul Krugman
(Yahoo Finance)
6. Fitch 'vying for credibility' with U.S. rating downgrade, says Moneta CIO Aoifinn Devitt
(CNBC Television)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Tyson Zemlak

Last Updated: 30/09/2023

Views: 5765

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (63 voted)

Reviews: 94% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Tyson Zemlak

Birthday: 1992-03-17

Address: Apt. 662 96191 Quigley Dam, Kubview, MA 42013

Phone: +441678032891

Job: Community-Services Orchestrator

Hobby: Coffee roasting, Calligraphy, Metalworking, Fashion, Vehicle restoration, Shopping, Photography

Introduction: My name is Tyson Zemlak, I am a excited, light, sparkling, super, open, fair, magnificent person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.