It's been 18 months since Standard & Poor's lowered the U.S. credit rating, and now Moody's Corp. (NYSE: MCO) and Fitch Ratings look ready to do the same.
That's because even after the fiscal cliff deal, the country's biggest financial problems still remain: the debt ceiling debate, the uncertainty over the delayed sequester cuts and the failure to address the escalating long-term national debt.
And there's little confidence in Congress to reach an effective long-term deficit-reduction agreement by the February deadline.
"It's a fait accompli, actually," Money Morning Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald said of a credit rating downgrade. "We are the most indebted nation on the face of the planet, spending has ground to a halt, lending is not happening."