Reacting to the announcement yesterday that Dàgōng Guójì Zīxìn Pínggū Yǒuxiàn Gōngsī, the increasingly powerful Chinese credit rating agency, suggested they will downgrade the U.S. regardless of whether the US Congress reaches an agreement on raising its statutory debt limit, I simply replied “Ominous”. Reacting to my simple statement, a fellow social media traveler and investment professional responded stating that, “Dàgōng has about as much credibility as a Greek tax collector and that threats of a downgrade are about as ominous as a goldfish”.
It concerns me that our nation is walking into this debt ceiling debate foggy brained enough to suggest that dire warnings of the world will have no effect on our isolated debt discussions. Nonetheless, China, with the United States, the European Union, and Japan, now comprises 70 percent of the world’s GDP. Among these industrialized giants, Dàgōng has downgraded all but its own sovereignty. With the U.S., EU, and Japan’s currencies up against the ropes, what does saying that Dàgōng’s downgrading of U.S. Credit has the omnipotence of a goldfish really mean?
Prior to one of my many moves for my company, our young family lived in Ledyard, Connecticut in an A-frame home overlooking a dock on a deep, clear lake called Long Lake. Preparing for the move, my wife searched diligently for a new home for my 2 year old daughter’s bright red pet gold fish because we could not take it with us. She even went with my daughter Sarah to the pet store where it had been purchased to see if they would take it back, as my daughter had grown very fond of the little fella and very much wanted to secure a home for it but with no avail.
Finally the day came when Daddy had to do the tough sell. I took my wide eyed little girl down to the dock with her pet goldfish in its bowl. It was a very solemn moment as I spoke to her about why her little fella couldn’t come with us while her mother stood stoically a few feet back on the dock. We both said our goodbyes to the little fishy and peered over the dock as I let the bowl into the clear waters of the lake.
As we watched the little guy slowly get adjusted to the water and tussle its wavy fins and tail slowly out of the bowl, I could see my daughter’s wide eyes fill with a tear. It was something to see this little bitty bright red gold fish slowly and bravely flutter deeper into the water downward toward the watery flora below. A calm came over us knowing that it seemed content in the vast expanse of its new home. Then suddenly from the deep, as quickly as my daughter’s eyes and mine could grow wide in horror, a large mouth bass swooped up from the hidden depths below and engulfed this little fellow within its protuberance agape.
As the bass turned swiftly into the deep below, I quickly grabbed my daughter by the shoulder and turning her to her own dear mother while covering up the shock of my folly, I said, “Aw, how sweet, his mommy came up to meet him!” We didn’t speak again of the little bright red goldfish……………………………
So, perhaps even if the threat of China’s powerful credit rating agency, Dàgōng, downgrading America’s credit rating has really only “about as much credibility as a Greek tax collector”, the signal it sends to the deep, clear lake of our world’s financial system could be as quick and horrific as that ominous gray day on my dock on Long Lake.