Asian Markets Down, European Markets Steadier After U.S. Downgrade

S&P managing director blames the downgrade squarely on Washington politics.

ByABC News
August 7, 2011, 10:26 AM

Aug. 7, 2011— -- Global markets showed mixed results after the announcement by Standard and Poor's of a U.S. credit rating downgrade, with Asia's markets slipping while some markets across Europe rallied upon opening.

Tokyo's Nikkei opened the day down 1.4 percent and held steady in morning trading on news that G7 nations had pledged to take measures to support financial stability and growth.

"We are committed to taking coordinated action where needed, to ensuring liquidity, and to supporting financial market functioning, financial stability and economic growth," read a statement from G7 nations released on Sunday night.

The news in other Asian markets was not so promising. Hong Kong's Hang Seng ended down 3.56 percent, Shanghai composite down 4.1 percent. The Kospi tumbled 4.4 percent, the biggest decline since November 2009.

Australia's S&P/ASX-200 index lost almost 2 percent in early trading and indexes in New Zealand fell more than 3 percent.

Markets in London, Paris, and Frankfurt were trading slightly lower Monday morning, while exchanges in Milan and Madrid were posting sizable gains. A pledge from the European Central Bank to support uncertain bonds in Italy and Spain buoyed markets across the continent.

The mixed market reports likely won't do much to quell growing concerns that Standard & Poor's downgrade of the U.S. credit rating from AAA to AA+ could rock global financial markets.

There are efforts across the world to calm markets in light of the downgrading, which all weekend the White House has been fighting in some very strong language, calling it "amateurish" and "breathtaking."

President Obama himself, however, has not spoken. Returning from Camp David today the president waved off reporters asking questions about the first downgrading ever of U.S. credit.

The president and his economic team will be talking with leaders from around the world tonight, bracing for the impact from the move by S&P.

Click Here to See 5 Ways the Downgrading of the U.S. Credit Rating Could Affect You.

Even with the administration's heated criticism of S&P over the downgrading, the rating agency is not only standing by the decision, it is saying a further downgrade is possible if the United States doesn't solve its debt problem in two years.

The rating agency's managing director John Chambers said today on ABC News' "This Week with Christiane Amanpour" that there's "at least a one in three chance of a downgrade over that period."

He has blamed the downgrade squarely on Washington politics, saying "this is not a serious way to run a country."

"Our job is to hold the mirror up to nature, and what we are telling investors is that we have a spectrum that runs from AAA to D," Chambers told ABC News. "And what we're seeing is threat the United States government is slightly less credit worthy."

The rating agency says that Washington has shown an inability to reach political consensus, which was highlighted by the debate on the debt ceiling, and this leaves the U.S. "less stable, less effective."

S&P is one of the three major rating agencies that highlight investment risk, and is considered a golden standard among rating agencies.

However, all three agency's reputations were tarnished after mortgage-backed securities that they gave a AAA rating contributed to the economic collapse of 2007 and 2008.

After S&P was pulled before Congress to testify about the faulty ratings, some now question the organization's reliability.

"Now they come in and they flex as if they've been this bastion of correctness when they've completely been wrong and so now everything they do is suspect in my view," said president of Ariel Investments Melody Hobson.

Some wonder if S&P is rating the political system instead of the financial system.

While the White House pushed back against the downgrade, pointing out that the rating agency made a $2 trillion math mistake, White House spokesman Jay Carney conceded that reaching compromise on the debt ceiling debate took "too long and was at times too divisive."