The U.S. debt ceiling debate is unlikely to change Standard & Poor's AA+ U.S. sovereign rating, the credit ratings agency said Monday, but warned a protracted battle or a breach of next month's deadline that results in a missed debt payment could alter their calculus.
In a research note, S&P appeared to lower the probability of a repeat performance of the downgrade drama that paralyzed markets in 2011. In a controversial move two years ago, the impasse between the Congress and the White House led S&P to strip the U.S. of its AAA credit rating. The ratings agency was the only one of its peers to do so—leading it to accuse the U.S. of retaliation when the federal government sued S&P for its part in the 2008 financial crisis.
Yet at least for the moment, S&P appeared to take a more tempered approach to the saga unfolding in the nation's capitol, even as it decried the "political brinkmanship" at the heart of the current spending crisis.
"In our opinion, the current impasse over the continuing resolution and the debt ceiling creates an atmosphere of uncertainty that could affect confidence, investment, and hiring in the U.S. However, as long as it is short-lived, we do not anticipate the impasse to lead to a change in the sovereign rating," S&P said.