Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Bonds are forever, but the ratings don't have to be

Moody's, belatedly, is gettting real on ratings reviews of sovereigns and the EU is not happy about it.

Greece was downgraded to JUNK by Moody's in June 2010.

Portugal got their rating whacked today*.  Spain and Italy were put on notice.
*From Baa1 to Ba2.  Not impressed?  Who can be with raters and their archaic hoodoo voodoo.

Ireland is one grade above JUNK (what is that, Junk+?).
[BusinessWeek] Moody, which slashed Portugal to Ba2 from Baa1, in April lowered Ireland’s credit rating to the lowest investment grade Baa3 and left country’s outlook on negative.
For comparison, let's see how Iceland is doing.
[Bloomberg]  The credit rating companies that were too slow in predicting Iceland’s economic collapse in 2008 may be underestimating the strength of its resurrection.

Fitch Ratings said in May it may take two years for the island to shed its junk status, while Moody’s Investors Service and Standard & Poor’s give Iceland their lowest investment grades. That hasn’t deterred investors from trying to buy twice the amount offered in last month’s $1 billion bond sale as the island returned to global capital markets less than three years after its banks defaulted on $85 billion in debt.  "When you look at how successful that auction was, it's clear that investors are now crunching the numbers themselves and that the credit grades from the rating agences are less relevant," Valdimar Armann, an economist at Reykjavik-based asset manager Gamma, said in a July 4 interview.
Possibly the EU is drawing the wrong lesson from the Iceland story.  No, no - I jest.  They want to bury Iceland.  How dare they recover!

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