Fitch Ratings, London 08 March 2013
Fitch Ratings has downgraded Italy’s Long-term foreign and local currency Issuer Default Ratings (IDR) to ‘BBB+’ from ‘A-’. The Outlook on the Long-term IDRs is Negative. Fitch has simultaneously affirmed the Short-term foreign currency IDR at ‘F2′ and the common eurozone Country Ceiling for Italy at ‘AAA’.
KEY RATING DRIVERS
The downgrade of Italy’s sovereign ratings reflects the following key rating factors:
- The inconclusive results of the Italian parliamentary elections on 24-25 February make it unlikely that a stable new government can be formed in the next few weeks. The increased political uncertainty and non-conducive backdrop for further structural reform measures constitute a further adverse shock to the real economy amidst the deep recession.
- Q412 data confirms that the ongoing recession in Italy is one of the deepest in Europe. The unfavourable starting position and some recent developments, like the unexpected fall in employment and persistently weak sentiment indicators, increase the risk of a more protracted and deeper recession than previously expected. Fitch expects a GDP contraction of 1.8% in 2013, due largely to the carry-over from the 2.4% contraction in 2012.
- Due to the deeper recession and its adverse impact on headline budget deficit, the gross general government debt (GGGD) will peak in 2013 at close to 130% of GDP compared with Fitch’s estimate of 125% in mid-2012, even assuming an unchanged underlying fiscal stance.
- A weak government could be slower and less able to respond to domestic or external economic shocks.
London, 22 February 2013
Moody’s Investors Service has today downgraded the domestic- and foreign-currency government bond ratings of the United Kingdom by one notch to Aa1 from Aaa. The outlook on the ratings is now stable.
The key interrelated drivers of today’s action are:
1. The continuing weakness in the UK’s medium-term growth outlook, with a period of sluggish growth which Moody’s now expects will extend into the second half of the decade;
2. The challenges that subdued medium-term growth prospects pose to the government’s fiscal consolidation programme, which will now extend well into the next parliament;
3. And, as a consequence of the UK’s high and rising debt burden, a deterioration in the shock-absorption capacity of the government’s balance sheet, which is unlikely to reverse before 2016.
After more than three years of economic, financial, and budgetary stress in the European Economic and Monetary Union (eurozone), especially on its so-called “periphery”, some signs of stabilization emerged in the latter half of 2012. Is this a sign that the financial and economic troubles leading to the rating downgrades of 12 of the 17 eurozone member states since the onset of the crisis may have run their course? We believe that 2013 could be a watershed year for the eurozone debt crisis. It could mark the start of the region sustainably overcoming the market volatility and fragmentation that has affected it over the past few years. It could also see the return of some so-called “program countries”–member states that have borrowed from the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) or the European Financial Stability Facility multilateral loan programs–such as Ireland and Portugal, to more substantial primary issuance in the capital markets.