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September 17, 2013 | By Jim Puzzanghera
WASHINGTON -- As the nation fast approaches its debt limit, Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew on Tuesday issued his strongest warning yet to Congress about the economic consequences of waiting until just before the deadline to pass an increase. "Trying to time a debt limit increase to the last minute could be very dangerous," Lew told the Economic Club of Washington. "We cannot afford for Congress to gamble with the full faith and credit of the United States of America. " Republicans are balking at raising the $16.7-trillion debt limit -- which Congress must do by as early as mid-October -- unless the Obama administration agrees to major concessions including deep spending cuts and a delay in implementing the healthcare reform law. QUIZ: Test your knowledge about the debt limit During a meeting last week, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio)
September 6, 2013 | Michael Hiltzik
Everybody wants to see the perpetrators of the financial crisis punished, but you have to feel a little sorry for Standard & Poor's, the credit rating firm being sued by the federal government for its role in the disaster. S&P clearly has its back to the wall in this case. We can conclude this from the desperate defense it raised in court last week: that federal prosecutors have their knives out for S&P in "retaliation" for its downgrade of the U.S. government's credit rating in August 2011.
July 19, 2013 | By Jim Puzzanghera
WASHINGTON -- The shrinking budget deficit and improving economy has led Moody's Investor Services to affirm the nation's AAA credit rating and upgrade the outlook for government debt to stable from a negative watch that could have led to a downgrade. But Moody's warned that failure to address the long-term budget deficit "could put the rating again under pressure" down the road. For the short term, however, the tax increases and automatic federal spending cuts that began this year have helped cause a "steep decline" in the budget deficit that warranted removing the negative outlook, Moody's said.
July 2, 2013 | By Walter Hamilton
Tribune Co. went a full six months with unblemished credit. But its plan to buy 19 television stations is casting a shadow over the media conglomerate's credit rating. Standard & Poor's Corp. said Tuesday that Tribune's $2.7-billion deal for Local TV Holdings has “negative implications” for its credit. That's not a credit downgrade. But it signals an increased risk that Tribune's BB- rating could be cut. S&P cited the “meaningful increase in leverage” that Tribune is taking on to fund the Local TV purchase.
June 19, 2013 | Doyle McManus
It almost seems like distant history now, but it was really just a few short months ago that President Obama and Senate Republicans, spurred by fear of fiscal chaos, did the unthinkable: They went out to dinner and talked civilly about the possibility of a "grand bargain," a compromise that would shrink the deficit through revenue increases and long-term spending cuts. But since that hopeful first date, the relationship hasn't quite blossomed into romance - or even into real negotiations.
June 10, 2013 | By Jim Puzzanghera
WASHINGTON -- Standard & Poor's, which downgraded the U.S. credit rating nearly two years ago, said Monday it was more optimistic about the nation's long-term fiscal situation and had removed the negative outlook from the rating. The automatic federal spending cuts that began March 1 and other recent developments that led to a reduction in this year's projected federal budget deficit caused S&P to change the outlook for the U.S. rating to stable. S&P analysts also said they did not see signs that partisanship in Washington on fisical issues had become worse and were encouraged by the last-minute deal to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff at the end of 2012.
February 6, 2013
Federal and state prosecutors sued the credit rating agency Standard & Poor's this week for allegedly defrauding investors by giving inflated ratings to complex mortgage-backed securities that proved all but worthless after the housing bubble burst. The cases raise difficult questions about the freedom to express an opinion without being held liable if it's wrong. Nevertheless, it's worth exploring whether S&P and its rivals deliberately soft-pedaled how risky those securities were in order to boost their bottom lines.
February 6, 2013 | By Andrew Tangel, Alejandro Lazo and Jim Puzzanghera, Los Angeles Times
As the housing bubble was bursting in 2007, an analyst at credit rating firm Standard & Poor's made light of the situation with a song. He went from office to office serenading co-workers with his ode to America's deepening real estate crisis. "Strong market is now much weaker, subprime is boi-ling o-ver, bringing down the house," the analyst sang to the tune of the Talking Head's "Burning Down the House. " The scene was among the details - some meant to be embarrassing - released in government lawsuits against the world's biggest credit rating firm.
January 15, 2013 | By Jim Puzzanghera, Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON - As Congress again veers close to the nation's debt limit, a leading credit rating company is delivering a stark warning: Don't wait until the last minute. Fitch Ratings said Tuesday that the U.S. could lose its AAA credit rating if lawmakers don't raise the $16.4-trillion debt limit in a "timely manner" as a possible default looms as early as mid-February. Congressional Republicans want major government spending cuts in exchange for another debt-limit increase. But Fitch, one of three major credit-rating companies, said the debt limit should not be used as leverage.
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