Why a AAA credit rating matters to us all

To the economic masters of any nation, keeping a top-notch credit rating is essential to solving their financial problems, but now the UK might be facing a slight smudge on its record.

And it's not because of anything that has already happened, like you or I missing a few monthly credit card bill repayments, it's all about what might happen.

In global terms, Britain has a shiny AAA credit rating. The best you can get. And the international agency that has awarded that, Standard & Poor's says there is no reason why that should change any time soon.After all, George Osborne's forecast for next year is growth in GDP of 2.5% and after that around 3% for the following three years. If only we didn't owe all that debt, this would be good news.

Unrealistic forecasts
But an economist from Legal and General Investment Management, one James Carrick, has cast just a little doubt on the future of the UK's credit rating because, he believes, Britain might not just shrug off its economic woes as simply as first thought and those forecasts might be just a touch unrealistic.

He says growth might be more like 0.5% with a couple of quarters even running in the negative. If that happens, where is the capacity to pay what we owe? That's when Standard & Poor's starts to rethink that AAA rating. Doubts about ability to pay back loans? Hmmm.

Yes, this is all incredibly big-brained and complex but it basically boils down into tough times ahead for you, me and the majority.

Mr Carrick, who's paid to think about these things, has pointed out that for the Government to hit its projected economic growth targets at a time when it is simultaneously squeezing its finances will require something like a miracle.

That miracle would need to be massive growth in the private sector. In fact, it would need the fastest-ever annual growth in the private sector not just for one year, but for four years in a row. You don't have to be a highly-qualified economic guru to know that just ain't gonna happen.

Coming down off the mountain of high thought, to see how it affects the man on the ground, well the outlook is not good.

Because if the private sector is not growing and the government is not spending then the economic brakes are on, business slows, jobs are lost and unemployment beckons.

Let's hope James Carrick is wrong. Very wrong.
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