Fitch has lowered the outlook for its U.S. government credit rating to “negative” from “stable” due to soaring budget deficits, but the agency is keeping its overall rating at the highest AAA level.
Fitch said Friday that the downgraded outlook reflects the surge in government debt and “the absence of a credible fiscal consolidation plan” to get the deficits under control.
Credit rating agencies often use changes in outlooks to signal possible future moves in the overall rating.
The Congressional Budget Office has projected that the deficit for this budget year, which ends Sept. 30, will surge to an all-time high of $3.7 trillion. That would be up from an already high deficit of $984.4 billion last year.
This year’s deficit is being driven higher by the severe recession triggered by efforts to contain the coronavirus and the spending Congress has authorized to cushion the impact of that downturn.
The government’s deficit for just the month of June hit $864 billion, the highest one-month total, and was part of an imbalance of $2.74 trillion for the first nine months of this budget year.
All the borrowing has pushed public debt to $26.5 trillion currently.
The Fitch report said, “There is a growing risk that U.S. policymakers will not consolidate public finances sufficiently to stabilize public debt after the pandemic has passed.”