The triple-A ratings of 177 cities, counties, school districts and other entities could be cut along with the U.S. government's top rating, Moody's Investors Service said on Thursday.
The rating agency placed on review the ratings of 162 local governments in 31 states, as well as 14 housing finance programs and one university -- affecting $69 billion of outstanding debt -- for a possible downgrade because they could be affected by the United States' potential credit deterioration.
"In the event the U.S. government's Aaa rating is downgraded, Moody's will determine the outcome of each review by evaluating the strength of the sovereign linkages to each affected credit, including direct and indirect reliance on federal spending, sensitivity to deteriorating macroeconomic conditions and vulnerability to disruptions in the financial markets," the rating agency said in a statement.
It added that the positive credit attributes of each issuer, including financial position, operating flexibility and management responsiveness, will also be considered.
The Moody's action followed the placement last week of five of the 15 states it rates Aaa on review for a possible downgrade due to their heavy reliance on employment, contracts or funding from the federal government.