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OVERVIEW

  • The United Kingdom has high monetary, labor, and product-market flexibility, and a wealthy and diversified economy.
  • Output and employment growth have exceeded our previous projections, but the U.K.’s fiscal position has underperformed our expectations and has yet to reflect a strengthening economy.
  • We are affirming our ‘AAA/A-1+’ long- and short-term sovereign credit ratings on the U.K.
  • The stable outlook reflects our assumptions that the U.K. fiscal position will gradually strengthen as real-wage and productivity growth improve toward pre-crisis averages, and that the government that emerges from the May 2015 general election will remain committed to fiscal consolidation.
    Our outlook also assumes the U.K.’s ongoing EU membership.

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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.
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  • We now expect the United Kingdom’s net general government debt as a percentage of GDP to continue to rise in 2015, before declining again.
  • Future employment or growth shocks could pressure government finances further.
  • We are therefore revising our outlook on the unsolicited long-term ratings on the U.K. to negative, from stable, reflecting our view of a one-in-three chance that we could lower the ratings if the U.K.’s economic and fiscal performances weaken beyond our current expectations.
  • We are affirming our ‘AAA/A-1+’ long- and short-term unsolicited sovereign credit ratings on the U.K.
  • We have also revised to negative from stable the outlook on our ‘AAA’ ratings on the Bank of England and the debt program of Network Rail Infrastructure Finance PLC.

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