These 15 countries (and the Isle of Man) have the world’s highest credit rating, AAA from both Moody’s and Standard Poor’s. The U.S. lost that high standing Friday, when SP downgraded it to a AA+ rating.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — The Triple-A debt club just got even more exclusive: Late Friday, the United States was booted out of a prestigious group of countries that boast a spotless credit rating.
Now only 15 countries (and the very small Isle of Man) hold the triple-A rating from both Standard Poor’s and Moody’s.
Canada, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland are among those with the undisputed stamp of approval — so is Isle of Man, a British crown dependency off the United Kingdom’s west coast, and Singapore (both of which are too small to see on our CNNMoney map above.)
The triple-A rating enables nations to borrow funds at a low cost, because their governments are considered stable and their bonds safe.
SP downgrades U.S. credit rating
The United States for example, has seen its dollar become the world’s No. 1 reserve currency because its bonds are held in such high regard by investors. They’re backed by the “full faith and credit of the U.S. government” — which until now, has never seriously been called into question.
On Friday, SP downgraded the United States to AA+, an investment grade level just one notch below triple-A. It marked the first time the world’s largest economy has been downgraded, since Moody’s first gave the country a credit rating in 1917.
SP cited estimates that U.S. government debt would balloon to 79% of the size of the entire U.S. economy by 2015, and 85% by 2021 — a level SP says is consistent with AA+ rated countries.
In comparison, estimates from the International Monetary Fund show triple-A rated Canada’s debt is likely to only rise to 34% of its economy by 2015, and Germany’s is forecast to rise to 52%. (The IMF does not publish forecasts out to 2021).
Your money in a AA-rated U.S.
Belgium is currently the only other AA+ rated country on SP’s list, and its debt is expected to grow to 85% of GDP by 2015, according to the IMF.
Abu Dhabi, with a AA rating, is just a step below AA+. Also in that group are Bermuda, Chile, Qatar, Slovenia and Spain.
Meanwhile, China — the world’s second largest economy — is rated two notches below the United States, at AA-.
Greece — the lowest rated country in the world — is forecast to see its debt well exceed the size of its economy, at 149% the size of its GDP in 2015.