In a press conference call this morning, the credit rating agency Standard & Poor's explained its decision to downgrade the United States' credit rating from "AAA: to "AA+, outlook negative" for the first time since it began issuing "sovereign" credit ratings seventy years ago. The entire audio of the call can be heard here:
At one point, David Beers, S&P's Global Head of Sovereign Ratings, explained S&P's "upside scenario" -- specifically, that the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy (but not the middle class) would expire in 2013. According to Beers, merely executing the current budget deal plus allowing those tax cuts to expire would be enough for the U.S. to move from AA-outlook negative to AA-outlook stable (the necessary step before a healthier economy could return it to AAA status). You can hear that portion of his discussion here:
My (frankly polemic) analysis of the S&P downgrade can be read in several posts here.
I'd be grateful if anyone who carefully annotates or transcribes the call would add notes or links to the comments, below.