Fitch, one of the “Big Three” ratings agencies, has warned that the government shutdown puts the US at risk of losing its “AAA” credit rating in the near future.
Speaking in London on Wednesday, James McCormack, Fitch’s global head of sovereign ratings, said that if the government shutdown continued long enough to push the US into hitting its debt ceiling, that could lead to a downgrade, something that has happened only once before.
“If this shutdown continues to March 1 and the debt ceiling becomes a problem several months later, we may need to start thinking about the policy framework, the inability to pass a budget … And whether all of that is consistent with triple-A,” he said.
The government shutdown entered its 19th day Wednesday, with seemingly no ending in sight, as Republicans and Democrats remain unable to find a compromise on funding for President Donald Trump’s proposed wall on the southern border.
The first and only time the US received a downgrade from a major ratings agency was in 2011, when S&P downgraded the world’s largest economy to a rating of “AA+” from “AAA.” At the time, the US had just raised its debt ceiling, allowing trillions of dollars of additional government spending. The “AA+” remains in place to this day.
Fitch previously warned in early 2018 that it could downgrade the US credit rating but did not do so.