Moodyâs Top U.S. Rating Rebuts S&P By John Detrixhe - Aug 8, 2011 Moodyâs Investors Service affirmed the U.S.âs top rating for the second time in a week, rebutting Standard & Poorâs after it stripped the worldâs largest economy of its top credit status. The U.S. today retained its Aaa ranking with a negative outlook in part because the dollarâs status as the main reserve currency allows it to support higher debt levels than other countries, Moodyâs said today in a report. Lawmakers last week took a âpositive stepâ toward addressing the nationâs record deficits, Steven Hess, the senior credit officer at Moodyâs in New York, said in a telephone interview. âWhat weâve said over the last few months is that we now see at least both parties having the same goal of deficit and debt reduction over the long term, even though more needs to be done,â Hess said. âMore important to us than how contentious the process is, does it produce results? What weâre looking at is actual policies as opposed to the political debate.â The dollar, the most widely held currency in central banksâ global foreign exchange reserves, helps support the U.S.âs top credit ranking, as does its economy with âunparalleled size and diversityâ and a government thatâs characterized by âpolitical and institutional stability,â Moodyâs said in the report. Buffettâs View The U.S. on Aug. 5 lost its AAA ranking by S&P for the first time ever. The rating firm cited the political failure to reduce record deficits and weakening âeffectiveness, stability and predictability of American policymaking and political institutions.â Billionaire Warren Buffett, the worldâs most successful investor, said S&P erred and the U.S. should be rated âquadruple-A.â Lawmakers agreed on Aug. 2 to raise the nationâs $14.3 trillion debt ceiling and put in place a plan to enforce $2.4 trillion in spending reductions over the next 10 years, less than the $4 trillion S&P had said it preferred. âWe donât anticipate a scenario at the moment in which the U.S. would quickly returnâ to AAA, S&P analyst David Beers said in a conference call today. âGiven the nature of the debate currently in the country, the polarization of views around fiscal policy right now, we donât see anything immediately on the horizon that would make this the most likely scenario.â Reserve Role Moodyâs has rated the U.S. Aaa since 1917 and said in a report today that the dollarâs role as the main reserve currency, âunique to the U.S., provides unmatched access to financing, meaning that the U.S. government can support higher debt levels than other governments.â Both rating firms say the dollar will probably retain its role as the leading global currency. âThe countryâs at an important inflection point as far as how we address the fiscal issues and growth for the future,â said Kathleen Gaffney, a money manager at Boston-based Loomis Sayles & Co., which oversees $162 billion. âIn some sense, Iâm an optimist that the U.S. will eventually get it right. This is potentially a catalyst for Washington.â The dollar rose today against a majority of its most-traded counterparts as investors sought the refuge of U.S. government debt even after the rating downgrade as global stocks fell and U.S. stocks sank the most since December 2008. Yields on Treasury two-year notes reached a record low. Debt Steps âGetting there was difficult, but we shouldnât miss the fact that they did take an action that was moving in the right direction,â Moodyâs Hess said of the government compromise last week. âWeâre not just looking at the politics. Thereâs lots of other things that go on here.â To keep its Aaa ranking, the U.S. needs to take steps to rein in the debt-to-gross domestic product ratio to ânot far aboveâ 75 percent by about 2015, which is the ratio thatâs forecast for 2012, Moodyâs said in the report. A rating cut may be triggered before 2013 by weakening âfiscal disciplineâ or a worsening economic outlook that causes âadverse fiscal implications.â The U.S. public debt to gross-domestic-product ratio of 69.8 percent this year will climb to 73.9 percent in 2012, according to Bloomberg Government data. âAnother factor that we are going to be watching is the performance of the economy,â Hess said. Negative outlook means thereâs some possibility that the U.S. rating could go down anytime during the next two years, he said. On Aug. 3 Moodyâs said the outlook for the U.S. grade is now negative, after President Barack Obama signed into law a plan to lift the nationâs borrowing limit and cut spending following months of wrangling between Democratic leaders and Republican lawmakers. President Barack Obamaâs renewed sense of urgency on the nationâs debt is âencouraging,â Deven Sharma, president of S&P, said in an interview on CNBC television today. Obama, breaking his silence on the downgrade of federal debt, said today that the U.S. âalways will be a AAA countryâ and that he will release a new proposal to deal with the federal deficit in the coming weeks.