NEW YORK (
Earlier this month, Standard & Poor's also warned that the United States could face another downgrade in credit rating if the government does not get a serious plan about paying down the national debt.
While the Federal Reserve has vowed to keep interest rates at record lows through 2014 in an effort to stimulate the economy, these credit downgrades for banks and the government can result in higher interest rates for consumers.
The three national credit rating agencies -- Fitch Ratings, Standard and Poor's, and Moody's -- measure the creditworthiness of companies and governments. The higher the rating, the less risky the investment and the more likely the bank or government will repay the loan. Credit downgrades are similar to a drop in credit scores and indicate a higher risk of default on loans. This can lead to higher interest rates for banks and the government.In August 2011, S&P downgraded the rating of the United States long-term debt from from AAA -- the highest rating and the safest investment -- to AA+. In their action last week, Moody's downgraded a number of big banks including Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America, and Morgan Stanley because their core business has structural weaknesses. However, this downgrade may accelerate their problems. Banks depend on securing low interest rates to make profits on the loans they make. Higher interest rates will squeeze profits that have already been sliced by regulations and changes in the industry. Increasing interest rates for government and bank loans could lead to increases in all interest rates, including credit cards, mortgages, and student loans. Credit cards are the easiest form of credit, but the average interest rate is already very high. According to the LowCards.com Weekly Credit Card