Moody’s analyst sees polarization around US budget issues persisting next year

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A top analyst at Moody’s said political polarization in the United States will likely complicate budget-making decisions ahead of the 2024 presidential election, which could delay any change of the rating agency’s outlook on the government back to a stable outlook.

Moody’s changed the U.S. credit outlook to negative from stable on Friday, citing larger fiscal deficits and a decline in debt affordability.

“Any type of significant policy response that we might be able to see to this declining fiscal strength probably wouldn’t happen until 2025 because of the reality of the political calendar next year,” William Foster, a senior vice president at Moody’s, told Reuters.

Moody’s typically “resolves” an outlook, meaning in case of a negative outlook it either brings it back to stable or goes ahead with a rating downgrade, within 18 to 24 months, he said. But the process may take longer and will depend on fiscal policy measures that will be taken.

Moody’s lower outlook comes after a bond selloff that has pushed long-term Treasury debt yields to levels not seen since 2007 in recent weeks.

An environment of higher interest rates will likely result in higher interest payments and higher deficits, said Foster.

“And so, the question from our perspective moving forward is to what extent the government will be able to address that through fiscal policy measures that will reduce deficits moving forward, either through higher revenues, or reducing primary spending,” he said.

(Reporting by Davide Barbuscia; editing by Megan Davies and Chris Reese)