Bring Your “A” Game

Bill Tatro
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Posted: Jun 14, 2013 12:01 AM

Once again, we’re all very disappointed in the fact that we can’t reestablish our “A.”  Perhaps in a few years when the politicians have changed faces we’ll once again be worthy of our “A,” but for now we can only keep our fingers crossed.  Maybe a little background information is in order.  In 2011, Standard & Poor’s, or S&P as they’re known on Wall Street, took away our country’s “AAA” credit rating and replaced the last “A” in the sequence with a “+,” thus we’re now officially rated as “AA+.”  Some people thought this would be a major crisis.  However, after a respectful period of time had passed and we experienced the anticipated fluctuations in the financial markets, we went back to business as usual.  

Nevertheless, most people haven’t given sufficient thought regarding the loss of an “A.”  Therefore, let’s consider the following examples.    

You’re sitting at a blackjack table in Las Vegas, you’ve had a pretty good run all night, and now you’re “all in” because you’re feeling very lucky.  The mortgage, the education funds for your children, all your debts, absolutely everything is riding on the next card and you’re feeling extremely confident because your “up” card is a “King.”  Your mind is racing “come on ace, come on blackjack.”  Oops, wait a minute, there’s no “A” in the deck.  Thus, blackjack is no longer an option, the 1 ½ times payout is out the window, and the “A” card is just a distant memory.  Sorry, the S&P took it away.  Better luck next time.  

You’re in Chicago and it’s time to impress the wife by visiting the best jazz club in the city.  However, when you try to tell the taxi cab driver where you would like to go, you sound like a buzzing bumble bee, “Please take me to the ‘jzz’ club.”  The cab driver responds, “Where?”  “The ‘jzzzz’ club,” you exclaim.  Unable to decipher what you’re saying, the cab driver hurriedly drives off without you.  Indeed, the significance of the “A” is very profound.  

The loss of the “A” speaks volumes about the current philosophy and present-day direction of both the monetary and fiscal policies of Congress and the current administration.  Where we are at this moment in time is very disturbing, but where we’re headed is absolutely frightening.  It’s particularly worthwhile to mention that after Attorney General Eric Holder and the Justice Department threatened Standard and Poor’s, the credit-rating agency has now acknowledged the belief that even if we haven’t quite returned to “AAA” status, we are making some progress.    

Of course, putting all the financial considerations aside, I’m struggling mightily with the thought of our U.S. athletes participating in the 2014 Winter Olympics scheduled to take place early next year in Sochi, Russia.  I just can’t envision our passionate American fans shouting, “U.S.?!,” “U.S.?!,” “U.S.?!”  What would be the repercussions of that?

All we can hope for is that the S&P will fully relent while they also comprehend that the “A” is of far greater significance than even they seem to realize.