Will the U.S. ever get its AAA rating back?

Standard and Poor's headquarters seen in Manhattan in New York City.

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: It could take a long time to get that AAA rating back, and some analysts say it could never be restored.

Here's Marketplace's Jeff Horwich.


JEFF HORWICH: A AAA rating, once lost, is not gone forever -- but it's gone for a while. Treasuries analyst Gennadiy Goldberg of 4Cast says it's a multi-step process. Before returning to AAA, the U.S. first has to remove itself from a so-called "negative outlook." That's S&P's way of saying it expects things will be bad for a while.

GENNADIY GOLDBERG: It would take at least maybe five or six years for us to get back to AAA -- in the absence of just extraordinary Congressional agreement, which I highly doubt.

Goldberg says S&P's concerns are overwhelmingly political. S&P's statement on the downgrade suggests a return to AAA would take a wholesale upending of the current political climate.

Goldberg: A large part of the statement was there was no agreement -- nobody was willing to give and take. There were certain unnamed parties, that blocked anything that came their way.

S&P says both sides need to slay their sacred cows. For Democrats, that's fixing Medicare and Social Security. For Republicans, raising taxes.

I'm Jeff Horwich for Marketplace.

About the author

Jeff Horwich is the interim host of Marketplace Morning Report and a sometime-Marketplace reporter.

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