Will ratings agencies actually pull the trigger? Who wants to be the one to remove the much vaunted status the US has as the least risky investment in existence? David Greenlaw, an economist from Morgan Stanley reckons they don't have the gut to do it. A downgrade would bring turmoil that nobody wants to be responsible for. Besides, what would they then plug in their models as a risk free rate?
This comes down to responsibility in an interesting way. Actions by congress or ratings agencies will have clear repercussions. If congress does not decide on any long term solution, or the ratings agencies downgrade the US, the resulting sequence of events will lead directly to a responsible party. Economic troubles going forward will not have the ambiguous provenance of our last little financial fiasco.