The United States and other top world economies need to make potentially painful government spending cuts or risk losing the high-grade credit ratings that have kept borrowing affordable, the Moody's rating agency said Monday.
Moody's warns nations to cut spending or risk AAA ratings
European officials hold off on bailout package for Greece
Outlining the dilemma faced by policymakers in the United States, Great Britain, Germany and France, Moody's said that debt levels in the four large credit-worthy economies had reached the point at which they are at risk of being downgraded -- a step that would drive up interest rates, increase borrowing costs and mark a turn in perceptions about the world economy.
Economic recovery might ease the problem by increasing tax revenue, Moody's reported, but "growth alone will not resolve an increasingly complicated debt equation. Preserving debt affordability at levels consistent with AAA ratings will invariably require fiscal adjustments of a magnitude that, in some cases, will test social cohesion."
The dollar rose against major currencies despite the report, a reminder of its continued role as the world's reserve currency.
The agency said a downgrade did not appear imminent and expressed confidence that the four countries would come to grips with their fiscal problems. Germany, the report said, has included a new debt provision in its laws, and the United States has established a commission on spending reform.
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