Mixed Reactions to Moody's Downgrade Threat

Some financial experts yawn while others play up the threat of a looming catastrophe

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Despite ominous warnings of default and catastrophe, a number of financial experts aren't sweating over the news that Moody's has placed the U.S. credit rating "under review" for a possible downgrade in wake of the congressional impasse over raising the debt ceiling by August 2. "Treasurys aren't reacting much," writes Mark Gongloff at The Wall Street Journal. "The bond market does not appear to be afraid of a U.S. default, no matter how short-lived," adds Steve Schaefer at Forbes, noting the positive financial indicators he's seeing. "The 10-year Treasury note was yielding 2.89% Wednesday, and both auctions this week have gone off relatively smoothly with ample demand." He speaks with Nick Kalivas, MF Global's VP of research who says "People generally think a [debt ceiling] deal gets done." Kalivas says that presumption "will keep the equity market fairly flat absent any positive surprises out of the corporate earnings season that began this week."

Still, others are taking Moody's warning of a "small but rising risk of a short-lived default" very seriously. “Moody’s assessment is a timely reminder of the need for Congress to move quickly to avoid defaulting on the country’s obligations and agree upon a substantial deficit reduction package,” said Jeffrey Goldstein, the Treasury undersecretary for domestic finance. Colin Barr, a financial blogger at CNN Money, agrees. "The Treasury has said the government will run out of money Aug. 2 if the $14.29 trillion debt ceiling isn't raised. That could put the U.S. in default on its obligations, a state of affairs that all sane people agree would be disastrous, raising the risk of flight from the dollar and permanently higher federal borrowing costs."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.