China agency threatens US with new debt downgrade

Saturday, November 12, 2011
By Paul Martin

• Head of ratings agency issues warning in TV interview
• Fears of renewed budget deadlock in Washington

Peter Beaumont
The Guardian
Friday 11 November 2011

The head of China’s biggest ratings agency, Dagong Global Credit Rating, is warning that it may downgrade the US’s sovereign debt rating again because of Washington’s failure to tackle the federal budget deficit.

The remarks by Dagong’s chairman, Guan Jianzhong, to be broadcast in an interview with al-Jazeera on Saturday morning, come at the end of another week of deep turmoil for the world economy.

Dagong, which has maintained a pessimistic outlook on US fiscal policy, has been leading the charge to downgrade US debt over the last 12 months, lowering the US rating from AA to A+ a year ago.

In August it downgraded US debt again, to A. Days later, Standard & Poor’s followed in its wake, becoming the first western agency to downgrade US debt after the threat of a default was narrowly avoided following weeks of political squabbling in Washington over whether President Obama should be allowed to raise the US debt ceiling.

Guan’s intervention comes as another embarrassing political standoff over budget policy looms in Washington. The cross-party “supercommittee” given the job of finding ways to cut the budget deficit is reportedly deadlocked, with Republicans refusing to countenance the tax rises being suggested by Democrats. The committee is due to report by 23 November, but there are fears they could fail to reach agreement, prompting a new crisis.

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