Goodbye AAA, hello AA+. In a rough milestone, S&P has downgraded the nation's Triple-A rating for the first time, reports the Wall Street Journal. The move came even though the Treasury Department pointed out a $2 trillion math error in the agency's debt projections that delayed but did not change the official decision, notes the New York Times. "The downgrade reflects our opinion that the fiscal consolidation plan that Congress and the Administration recently agreed to falls short of what, in our view, would be necessary to stabilize the government’s medium-term debt dynamics," the agency says in a statement. (Full text here.)
Business Insider's take before the news hit: "The popular thinking on this is that its impact on markets would be less significant than the political impact to Obama. That being said, never before has the world's safest sovereign been downgraded, so who knows what would happen." The immediate impact will be clearer Sunday night when the Asian markets open, says the Washington Post. Meanwhile, Talking Points Memo notes that the political blame game already has started. The other two big agencies, Moody's and Fitch, previously reaffirmed the AAA rating.