In recent months, the west's most powerful finance ministers have been living in fear of David T Beers. The moustachioed, chain-smoking head of sovereign credit ratings for Standard & Poor's (S&P), the biggest of the "big three" credit rating agencies, is at the centre of the debt storm engulfing the European Union and the US. Beers was behind S&P's downgrade of Greece's credit rating to near-junk status last year. He also made the decision to downgrade the US's triple-A credit rating - for the first time in the history of the ratings - and demanded that Washington slash its budget deficit by $4trn, rather than the £2.4trn agreed in a deal with Congress. Come 2012, George Osborne will be praying that Beers doesn't come knocking at his door.
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