The American empire took another small step towards its inevitable fall this morning as the S&P cut its outlook on the nation's credit rating to "negative." The chance that our national credit rating will be downgraded from its current AAA rating some time in the next two years is now "at least one-in-three."

The S&P specifically cited the failure of our political leadership to do jack shit about this whole crushing debt burden created by the collapse of an artificial housing bubble based purely on greed. "We don't have any confidence that U.S. politicians will fix this because they're pretty much all spineless cowards," is what the S&P wrote (we're paraphrasing.) In response the U.S. Treasury said the the S&P "underestimates the ability of America's leaders to come together to address the difficult fiscal challenges facing the nation." That's not a paraphrase, it's just laughable.

Stocks are already down more than 200 points today. Reuters explains: "Wall St falls on U.S. outlook, global economy." That's it, though. Those are the only two things. The foreboding future of the U.S. economy, and the awful present and future state of the entire global economy. That's really all we have to worry about. Besides that, we're golden. At least the problem is contained in a single sector: the economy.

Still a good idea to short gold. You'll just have to wait a while longer to get paid off.

[Photo via photopia/Flickr]