* Treasury's Geithner continues attack on S&P decision
* Double-dip unlikely; much depends on govts, central banks
* Confident of more forceful support in Europe debt crisis
(Adds details, quotes from NBC/CNBC interview)
WASHINGTON, Aug 7 U.S. Treasury debt is as safe
as it was before a Standard & Poor's rating downgrade of the
United States and Congress' "damaging" debate over raising the
country's debt limit, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said
Geithner, in an interview with NBC/CNBC television, also
called on European leaders to ensure that there is an
"unequivocal financial backstop" for euro zone governments
facing fiscal and debt problems.
He added that a double-dip recession was unlikely if
governments and central banks made good decisions.
Asked whether Treasuries were as safe now as they were last
week, Geithner replied: "Absolutely. And the judgment by S&P
Geithner continued the Treasury's attack on the credit
rating agency, which cut the U.S. sovereign rating late on
Friday to AA-plus from AAA citing the political gridlock in
Washington and a debt deal that produced less fiscal savings
than the agency had prescribed.
"I mean I think S&P has shown really terrible judgment and
they've handled themselves very poorly," Geithner said. "And
they've shown a stunning lack of knowledge about basic U.S.
fiscal budget math. And I think they drew exactly the wrong
conclusion from this budget agreement."
Geithner said the S&P decision did not provide any new
insight into the U.S. capacity to pay it bills.
"There is no risk the United States of America would ever
not be in a position to meet its obligations," Geithner said.
He acknowledged, however, that the "terrible debate" in
Congress over raising the debt limit, which brought the U.S.
government within days of defaulting on some obligations,
raised questions about the U.S. political system's
"It caused a lot of damage and that's going to take a long
time to heal that damage," he said.
Geithner also said he was confident that China would
continue to be strong investors in the United States, despite
criticism from the Xinhua news agency that the "good old days"
of U.S. borrowing were over. For details, see [ID:nLDE77504C]
The U.S. Treasury chief, who on Sunday confirmed his
decision to stay in the job, said he did not believe a
double-dip recession was likely for the global economy, but "it
depends on the quality of judgments of the governments and
central banks now."
The world's governments and central banks still have room
to act to deal with global economic pressures, he added.
Europe must ensure stronger growth and governments there
must make progress on fiscal reforms, he said, adding he was
confident that Europe would provide "more forceful" support for
countries under debt pressure, such as Italy and Spain.
"So what Europe needs to do is to make sure that there's an
unequivocal financial backstop. So there is no doubt in
anyone's mind that those countries across Europe have the
ability and the will to meet their obligations," Geithner