Standard & Poor's has downgrade fever. The ratings agency today downgraded the credit ratings of mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and a host of other agencies linked to long-term US debt, including farm lenders; long-term government-backed debt from 32 banks and credit unions; and three major clearinghouses, which are used to execute trades of stocks, bonds, and options.
All the downgrades were from AAA to AA+, reflecting the same downgrade S&P made of long-term US government debt on Friday. S&P said the agencies and banks all have debt that is exposed to economic volatility and a further downgrade of long-term US debt. Their creditworthiness hinges on the US government's ability to pay its own creditors. The downgrades helped fuel today's huge selloffs on Wall Street. Click here to read Nate Silver's take on why S&P ratings are meaningless. (Read more S&P stories.)