The United States Isn’t A Top-tier Creditor, In One Map

But how does the United States stack up internationally? For that we turn to the BlackRock Investment Institute, the research arm of the giant money manager. It has created the “BlackRock Sovereign Risk Index” which aims to combine key aspects of creditworthiness of 48 countries around the world. It factors in plenty of things that have to do with the substance of different countries’ finances, such as their current debt and deficit levels, banking system strength, and exposure to debt denominated in foreign currencies. But it also adds an important layer that it calls “Willingness to Pay.” It measures the effectiveness and efficiency of governments to meet their obligations, and counts for 30 percent of the total index. Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising after the last couple of weeks of government shutdown and debt ceiling chicanery in Washington, but by BlackRock’s reckoning, the United States is not among the top-tier credit risks by this ranking. Here’s a complete map: You can check the detailed analysis for each country in an interactive graphic here . By BlackRock’s reckoning, the world’s most creditworthy nations–those with both solid finances and solid political systems that ensure bonds will be repaid–are the likes of Norway, Singapore, and Switzerland. The United States, as the map shows, is in the second tier, more similar to South Korea and Austria and Malaysia in its creditworthiness. For anyone who follows the news, it is hard to disagree. Neil Irwin is a Washington Post columnist and the economics editor of Wonkblog. Each weekday morning his Econ Agenda column reports and explains the latest trends in economics, finance, and the policies that shape both.

The United States is still getting rid of its chemical weapons

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad speaks with the Russian newspaper Izvestia in Damascus, Syria, on Monday, August 26. He told the newspaper that Western accusations that the Syrian government used chemical weapons are an insult to common sense. Representatives of Arab countries discuss Syria at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, Egypt, on Tuesday, August 27. President al-Assad vowed to defend his country against any outside attack. “The threats of launching an aggression against Syria will increase its commitments,” and “Syria will defend itself against any aggression,” he said, according to Syrian state TV. Suspected chemical attack in Syria Suspected chemical attack in Syria Suspected chemical attack in Syria Suspected chemical attack in Syria Suspected chemical attack in Syria Suspected chemical attack in Syria Suspected chemical attack in Syria Suspected chemical attack in Syria Suspected chemical attack in Syria Suspected chemical attack in Syria Suspected chemical attack in Syria Suspected chemical attack in Syria Suspected chemical attack in Syria Suspected chemical attack in Syria Suspected chemical attack in Syria Suspected chemical attack in Syria Suspected chemical attack in Syria HIDE CAPTION >> Photos: Suspected chemical attack in Syria The world’s attention turned to Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile after the United States and other countries accused Syria of using chemical weapons in an August 21 attack outside Damascus, a strike Washington says killed more than 1,400 people — including many women and children. Syria denies the accusation and says its own troops have faced poison gas attacks by rebel forces in the civil war that began in 2011. Last month, the U.N. Security Council later voted unanimously to require Syria to eliminate its arsenal of chemical weapons or face consequences. The U.N. team in Syria overseeing the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons says the Assad regime is cooperating . Securing Syria’s chemical weapons won’t be easy It’s unclear how these weapons can be found, secured, and safely destroyed by next year in the middle of a protracted conflict, considering that it is expected to take the United States three years to destroy half of the chemical weapons that Syria is estimated to have — and that’s in a remote part of Kentucky with no civil war. Asked about that, the U.S. Department of Defense told CNN in a written statement that it’s “inaccurate to draw parallels between the U.S. chemical demilitarization program and the international cooperation that will be required to destroy the chemical stockpile in Syria.” Defected general says Syria will never give up chemical weapons CNN’s Elizabeth M.