• How safe are your munis?

    S&P slashed ratings on thousands of municipal bonds this week in a largely symbolic move. No major state and local governments were included, but that doesn't mean they're all in the clear.

    By Cyrus Sanati, contributor

    FORTUNE -- The S&P downgrade machine cut through the U.S. municipal bond market earlier this week, stripping thousands of securities of their coveted triple-A credit rating. While on the surface the pruning of the muni space MORE

    Aug 11, 2011 10:30 AM ET
  • S&P and Moody's are disagreeable

    S&P and Moody's don't agree on the creditworthiness of the United States. Is their dispute unusual?

    Standard & Poor's on Friday night slammed the U.S. economy and its political system, lowering the nation's AAA credit rating for the first time in history. Rival credit rating agency Moody's dissented, reaffirming its Aaa rating while placing the country on negative credit watch.

    Some analysts have been making hay of the discrepancy, particularly as a MORE

    - Aug 8, 2011 10:46 AM ET
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  • U.S. downgrade a crossroads for S&P

    The rating agency's move to downgrade U.S. debt could make it a leader among rating agencies or blow up in its face.

    FORTUNE -- In the rating move heard 'round the world, Standard & Poor's lowered the credit rating of the United States, saying that the country could someday miss a debt payment due to its deeply divided government. The move not only creates a huge amount of uncertainty for investors MORE

    - Aug 6, 2011 3:12 PM ET
  • 5 states at risk in the debt ceiling debate

    Moody's expects to downgrade five states if the debt ceiling isn't raised. How these states — most led by Republicans — became totally dependent on federal dollars.

    FORTUNE – Tensions are boiling over in Washington as U.S. lawmakers negotiate a plan to raise the $14.3 trillion debt limit. With an Aug. 2 deadline fast approaching, the U.S. government is nowhere close to forging a deal -- an impasse that puts its MORE

    - Jul 27, 2011 10:54 AM ET
  • Life after a debt downgrade: Clawing back to AAA

    We know how the U.S. can lose its top-notch credit rating. The question is how do we restore it? The answer isn't so simple.

    By Tory Newmyer, writer

    FORTUNE -- It would be relatively easy for the U.S. to lose its prized AAA credit rating. All our policymakers need to do between now and Aug. 2 -- when the federal government reaches the end of its borrowing authority -- is nothing. At MORE

    Jul 18, 2011 10:30 AM ET
  • Moody's gives Republicans what they insanely want

    The congressional Republicans aiming to blow up the government took us past a scary new milestone Wednesday.

    Moody's put the United States' triple-A credit rating on review for a possible downgrade, citing a "small but rising risk of a short-lived default."

    The move comes after talks broke down between the White House and Republicans in Congress over raising the U.S. debt ceiling. One so-called Republican leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said progress MORE

    - Jul 13, 2011 5:22 PM ET
  • Moody's junks Ireland

    Ready for another bailout of Ireland? Moody's is.

    The rating agency slashed Ireland's ratings to junk Tuesday, just three months after its last downgrade of the debt-soaked former Celtic Tiger. Moody's warned that Ireland isn't likely to be able to raise funds in the bond market after its current bailout loan expires at the end of 2013.

    Ireland, laid low by its decision to bail out its reckless, feckless banks, took 85 billion MORE

    - Jul 12, 2011 4:02 PM ET
  • Italy: Europe's Fannie Mae moment?

    After a long simmer, Europe's debt crisis is coming to a boil.

    The market has turned against the Continent with a vengeance. European bank stocks sold off for the second straight day, while the euro sank against both the dollar (see chart, right) and the Swiss franc.

    The euro hit $1.41, down a nickel from its recent high just ahead of the July 4 holiday here. Big European financial companies, ranging from Deutsche MORE

    - Jul 11, 2011 11:47 AM ET
  • Why a problematic Portugal matters

    The tiny country has caught the Greek contagion and it could spread even faster from here.

    By Cyrus Sanati, contributor

    FORTUNE -- All eyes are on Italy this week, but they shouldn't overlook Portugal, which has also caught the Greek flu -- and it's serious. Moody's downgraded the tiny European nation's sovereign debt to junk status last week on fears that it would need a second bailout from Europe to pay off MORE

    Jul 11, 2011 8:34 AM ET
  • Moody's warns it may downgrade Italy

    A whole day without European debt fireworks is too much to ask for, apparently.

    Moody's said Friday that it may downgrade Italy's debt, thanks to "fragile market sentiment" for deeply indebted European governments. It is the first downgrade warning for one of the stronger European economies since the Greek debt crisis flared up this spring.

    The rating agency said that as investors grow more risk averse, Italy -- currently rated Aa2, the second-highest rating -- MORE

    - Jun 17, 2011 3:47 PM ET
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