Definitely not any kind of A. More like C.
That above is the US federal debt held by the public as a percentage of GDP, from 1790 to 2013, doctored from the 1980s onwards, projected to 2038.
What do I mean by doctored ? Why, nothing much : other than the sort of thing already discussed in re inflation, there's these two gems :
- Two weeks after the August, 2011 S&P downgrade, the SEC and the DoJ announced that S&P was under investigation. According to court filings by S&P this year and the general public opinion in the interval, this so called investigation by these so called institutions amounts to nothing more than thuggery. Two weeks after the April, 2012 Egan-Jones second downgrade to AA, the SEC voted to bring administrative action against that firm regarding years-old activity. Sean Egan offered an "We are not going to be intimidated by anybody from issuing timely, accurate ratings."
- The legal requirement is for fully owned companies to be consolidated into the books of the owner. Nevertheless, the size of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac has made the U.S. government reluctant to incorporate them into its own books. The white house budget director Jim Nussle said on September 12, 2008 that their budget plans would not incorporate the GSE debt because of "the temporary nature of the conservator intervention". That temporary nature has the temporary nature of the telephone tax, of course, or in other words it's about as temporary as the patriot act.
Now, in reference to these, as to #1 :
The single most important factor in the Commission staff’s assessment of NRSRO status is whether the rating agency is “nationally recognized” in the United States as an issuer of credible and reliable ratings by the predominant users of securities ratings. The staff also reviews the operational capability and reliability of each rating organization. Included within this assessment are: (1) the organizational structure of the rating organization; (2) the rating organization’s financial resources (to determine, among other things, whether it is able to operate independently of economic pressures or control from the companies it rates); (3) the size and quality of the rating organization’s staff (to determine if the entity is capable of thoroughly and competently evaluating an issuer’s credit); (4) the rating organization’s independence from the companies it rates; (5) the rating organization’s rating procedures (to determine whether it has systematic procedures designed to produce credible and accurate ratings); and (6) whether the rating organization has internal procedures to prevent the misuse of nonpublic information and whether those procedures are followed. The staff also recommends that the agency become registered as an investment adviser.
That same government that tries to use its paralegal muscle to force rating agencies to give it ratings that aren't based on reality is also of the otherwise correct opinion that a rating agency's value chiefly derives from being independent of the things it rates. How quaint.
As to #2 : The government controls the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, which would normally criticize inconsistent accounting practices. This, of course, refers to all the corporations that have foolishly relinquished the power to police and generally employ violence. The one corporation that wisely reserved such powers to itself is exempt from... well... everything.
Exempt from everything - including, of course, the respect of civilised people, the trust of reasonable people and the attention of everyone with a life. Which latter point then feeds into the ceaseless legislative overreaching by the mostly ignored "government", seeing how there's no worse nightmare for a bureaucrat than the people simply shrugging and moving on. Ignoring his bullshit. And so must he make more and more laws, and misrepresent them as more and more important. Somehow!
It never works in practice. Obviously.