UK moved a slight notch closer to bust
The ratings agency S&P has downgraded the UK's sovereign debt rating to "negative". It's still triple-A, but with the distinct possibility that it will not be so forever.
That's because, basically, the people who will buy that debt - the bond traders on the global financial markets - are not convinced by the numbers Alistair Darling produced in the Budget. Then, April's public finance figures were immediately worse than expected, heightening the gap between prediction and reality.
What does it mean? Well Iceland and Ireland have also had their sovereign debt put on negative. So the UK is now technically in the same league. All those jokes about Canary Wharf becoming Rekyavik-on-Thames now look a bit unfunny.
It is still very very unlikely that the UK would default on its debt: but it will now cost the government more to borrow it. As far as I can make out from my current vantage point of a hotel in Inner Mongolia (where I am working on a report on the Chinese economy) Britain is the first major country to have its AAA rating called into question. It's likely it will not be the last - but what that says about the record of the UK government in managing the public finances is best left for the politicians to slug out on Newsnight, if there are any of them left standing after the seismic events of "Snoutgate".
Incidentally - while it is a massive reputational hit for the Labour government - it is not great news for David Cameron either. S&P's note on the downgrade implies they are not convinced any post election government will be tough enough on public spending (or on raising taxes) to get the public finances back to their gold-plated former status. As I write the pound has taken a hammering.
More on Newsnight tonight - but not from me. By the time the programme goes on air it will be 5am here and I am 800 miles from the nearest TV studio.