Bond ratings are an independent opinion of the general creditworthiness of an obligor, such as the Commonwealth, based on relevant risk factors. Ratings are based on an issuer's ability to repay fully the principal and interest of its short-term or long-term debt obligations on a timely basis. When it goes to market to sale bonds or notes, Debt Management usually asks the three largest rating agencies, Fitch Ratings, Moody's Investor Services, and Standard & Poor's, to assign the security it is selling with a rating.

Ratings are expressed by a letter grade symbol, such as 'AAA', at the time a bond or note is sold. These ratings are monitored and updated throughout the life of that security to reflect changes in the issuer's credit position. The rating scale for investment grade bonds starts at 'AAA' and goes through 'BBB', with 'AAA' being the highest rating reflecting the strongest creditworthiness and 'BBB' representing the lowest or weakest in terms of credit strength. The Commonwealth's rating on its General Obligation (GO) Bonds are 'AA+' after the recent ratings recalibrations by Fitch Ratings and Moody's Investor Services.

Read the most recent rating agency reports for GO bonds and notes.

See a history of the Commonwealth's GO ratings , including rating changes.

Different methodology and criteria are used to assign ratings to each of the Commonwealth four types of securities. Most of the Commonwealth's outstanding bonds are GO's of the state. Principal and interest payments for GO bonds are secured by the full faith, credit and taxing powers of the Commonwealth. GO bonds represent a promise by the Commonwealth to levy enough taxes as necessary in order to make timely and complete payments to investors. It is the strongest pledge the state can give bondholders.

In general, rating agencies assign a GO rating based on four main factors: the issuer's economy, the issuer's financial position, the issuer's current/future debt burden and pension liabilities, and management.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts current GO bond ratings are:

Current Massachusetts Credit Ratings
Type of SecurityFitchMoody'sStandard & Poor's
General Obligation BondsAA+Aa1AA+
Short-Term General Obligation NotesF1+MIG 1SP-1+

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Last Revised: 02/14/2012

Disclaimer: The information is provided for quick reference only and is not an exhaustive compilation of information for any particular bond issue. It does not purport to present full and fair disclosure with respect to Commonwealth of Massachusetts debt within the meaning of applicable securities laws.