As negotiations on a debt-ceiling deal broke down again over the weekend and leaders of both parties now plan to unveil their own debt ceiling plans, Mohamed El-Erian, co-CEO of PIMCO—the world’s largest bond fund manager—is warning that even with a debit limit deal in hand, the United States’ AAA rating is still at risk.
El-Erian (left) said in a blog posting for The Huffington Post that while he believed the nation’s leadership would “stumble into a short-term compromise over the next few days—one that raises the debt ceiling and avoids a debt default” more importantly such a plan “leaves the AAA rating extremely vulnerable and does little to lift the damaging clouds hanging over the U.S. economy.”
A debt deal, he said, “will come down to the wire,” however, “the resolution will likely be temporary, and the damage will be real and long-lasting—both of which render an already worrisome situation even more difficult going forward. Indeed, by illustrating so vividly to the whole world what is ailing America, the weekend’s political theatrics should make us all worry even more about the world’s largest economy.”
El-Erian went on to say that America’s “already-fragile economic psyche and its global standing have taken a material hit. Forget about ‘animal spirits’ for now.” Instead, he wrote, “worry even more about an economy that is already having tremendous difficulty sustaining an acceptable growth momentum, and that already suffers from an unemployment crisis that is increasingly protracted in nature. Analysts will now scramble to again revise down their projections for growth, and up those for unemployment.”
Second, he warned. “The debt and deficit issues that are at the root of the debt ceiling drama are, unfortunately, a small part of a much larger set of structural impediments to employment, investment and wealth creation.” The housing sector is still languishing, he continued, “credit intermediation is uneven, infrastructure investment is lagging, job skill mismatches are increasing, and income and wealth inequalities are worsening.”