The Credit Default Swap market is where one goes to buy insurance against a bond default. There is now more than a handful of companies whose default insurance premiums are less than that of the U.S. government. Here is just a sampling–ordered from most safe to least safe, but all safer than the U.S.:
- Baxter, Intl.
- United Parcel Service
- Raytheon (interesting, considering who pays them)
- Norfolk Southern
- Wal-Mart Stores
- Consolidated Edison
- John Deere
Effectively, the market has appraised the risk of default for these companies and has judged them to have less credit risk than the U.S. government, which has the ability to levy taxes, confiscate things–including companies and countries.