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2011年8月 8日 (月)

米国債格下げ 市場の動揺防ぐ財政再建策を

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 8, 2011)
U.S. must rebuild finances to stem global market unrest
米国債格下げ 市場の動揺防ぐ財政再建策を(8月7日付・読売社説)

The credit rating of U.S. government bonds, once among the world's highest, has been downgraded for the first time in history.

In the aftermath of the downgrade, stock prices may plunge around the world from Monday, and the depreciation of the dollar could accelerate.

To stem the unrest in global financial markets, it is imperative for the United States to chart out a package of measures to steadily rebuild government finances.

U.S. credit rating agency Standard & Poor's on Friday lowered the long-term U.S. credit rating by one level from the top-tier AAA rating to AA-plus.

As a reason for the downgrade, S&P said the accord reached between Congress and the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama "falls short of what, in our view, would be necessary to stabilize the government's medium-term debt dynamics."

Obama and the Democratic and Republican parties recently agreed on an increase in the government's statutory borrowing limit and a set of fiscal consolidation measures.
In the wake of that agreement, the Budget Control Act of 2011 was enacted Tuesday, centering on a goal of reducing the federal deficit by 2.4 trillion dollars over 10 years.


Deficit cut not sufficient

However, there is still a gulf in views about specific steps to reduce government debt, and the deficit cut agreed upon on Tuesday is substantially smaller than Obama's initial plan to reduce government debt by 3 trillion dollars to 4 trillion dollars.

S&P is believed to have decided on the downgrade in light of these circumstances.

The U.S. government has criticized S&P's reduction in the credit rating, but what is seriously being questioned now is the effectiveness of the Budget Control Act.

The president and the political parties should accelerate their discussions on a range of issues, including spending cuts and tax increases, to hammer out reliable measures that will gain markets' confidence.

Meanwhile, we cannot help but feel anxious over the adverse impact the downgrade of the U.S. credit rating could have on the world's financial markets.

Reflecting the slowdown in the U.S. and European economies, the Dow Jones industrial average plummeted more than 500 points Thursday, and the index fluctuated erratically the following day.
Stock prices declined across the board in European, Japanese and other Asian markets.

On the foreign exchange front, the hyper-appreciation of the yen slowed somewhat because of the yen-selling intervention by the government and the Bank of Japan. However, pressure has resurged to weaken the dollar against the Japanese currency.

If the trustworthiness of the dollar erodes further following the cut in the U.S. credit rating, the credit markets of the world would unavoidably be thrown into confusion.


Fed moves crucial

Japan is the world's second-largest holder, next to China, of U.S. government bonds.

Due attention should be paid to what repercussions there would be from declines in U.S. government bond prices.

Attention is being focused at present on whether the U.S. Federal Reserve Board, in a meeting scheduled for Tuesday, will opt for additional quantitative monetary easing to stimulate the economy.

Given that the U.S. government, shackled by huge fiscal deficits, has found it hard to adopt any measures to stimulate business activity, expectations have been rising for the Fed to adopt fresh monetary easing.

Additional monetary easing by the U.S. central bank could lead to further acceleration of the yen's appreciation and the dollar's depreciation, something very damaging to this country.

The world economy has been expanding since the global financial crisis was brought to an end thanks to unity among major economies.

A new round of coordinated efforts among major economies is needed to prevent another financial crisis.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 7, 2011)
(2011年8月7日01時17分  読売新聞)


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