Standard & Poor's scale of credit ratings

August 6, 2011 12:56:37 PM PDT
These are Standard & Poor's ratings for debt, and the company's definition for each rating.

Ratings below can have a "plus" or "minus." The U.S. rating was lowered from AAA to AA+.

AAA -- Extremely strong capacity to meet financial commitments. Highest Rating.

AA -- Very strong capacity to meet financial commitments.

A -- Strong capacity to meet financial commitments, but somewhat susceptible to adverse economic conditions and changes in circumstances.

BBB -- Adequate capacity to meet financial commitments, but more subject to adverse economic conditions.

BBB- -- Considered lowest investment grade by market participants.

BB+ -- Considered highest speculative grade by market participants.

BB -- Less vulnerable in the near-term but faces major ongoing uncertainties to adverse business, financial and economic conditions.

B -- More vulnerable to adverse business, financial and economic conditions but currently has the capacity to meet financial commitments.

CCC -- Currently vulnerable and dependent on favorable business, financial and economic conditions to meet financial commitments.

CC -- Currently highly vulnerable.

C -- Currently highly vulnerable obligations and other defined circumstances.

D -- Payment default on financial commitments.