Britain is expected to lose its AAA credit rating this year, dealing a blow to George Osborne's defence of deep spending cuts as the key to retaining Britain's status with global investors.
Many economists predict at least one of the three main credit ratings agencies – Moody's, Fitch or Standard & Poor's – will declare the UK a bigger lending risk in response to the chancellor's admission in the autumn statement that austerity will run for at least eight years, until 2018, rather than the original five.
Those same economists largely agree that in a world where most developed countries have found life tough going, there will be little impact on the UK's creditworthiness. Like the US and France, which have already seen their pride dented by a demotion to AA, the UK will still be a safe haven for foreign cash, and thereby enjoy relatively low interest rates.
But lower growth and bigger borrowing add up to a greater risk that the UK will find 2013 tougher than expected.