Posturing with no results behind it will lead to very bad PR – just ask the federal government.

For most of the past month, consumers, big businesses and small businesses held their breath while our so-called leaders debated raising the national debt ceiling. Some in Congress saw this debt ceiling debate as an opportunity to take a stand, make points and play politics with the stability of the U.S. economy.

Payback time has arrived. Our leaders are awash in bad PR. One of the leading rating agencies – Standard & Poor’s – has trimmed the U.S. gold standard AAA credit rating. Financial markets across the globe are taking a beating.

A credit rating is just an opinion, but perception is reality. The new reality for the U.S. is that our leaders can’t be trusted to make financial decisions in a timely and prudent manner. So we all suffer.

The communications lessons are many. Words and boastful stands without actions and results to back them up can be damaging. Sometimes empty promises damage brands, and sometimes empty promises damage entire economies.