Today, Moody’s reacted with a harsh warning about the spread of the sovereign debt crisis. The re-examination of ratings could spread to even the Aaa rated nations:
Recent developments in Spain and Greece could lead to rating reviews and actions on many of the euro area countries, says Moody’s Investors Service in the report “Rating Euro Area Governments Through Extraordinary Times — Implications of Spain’s bank recapitalisation needs and the rising risk of a Greek Exit”.
As Spain moves closer to the need for direct external support from its European partners, the increased risk to the country’s creditors may prompt further rating actions. The official estimates of recapitalising Spain’s banking system have risen significantly and the country’s indirect reliance on European Central Bank (ECB) funding via its banks has been growing. Moody’s is assessing the implications of these increased pressures and will take any rating actions necessary to reflect the risk to Spanish government creditors. Moody’s rating on Spain is currently A3 with a negative outlook.
However, Spain’s banking problem is largely specific to the country and is not likely to be a major source of contagion to other euro area countries, except for Italy, which likewise has a growing funding reliance on the ECB through its banks.
In contrast, Moody’s says that if the risk of a Greek exit from the euro were to rise further, it could lead to additional rating pressures throughout the region. Greece’s exit from the euro would lead to substantial losses for investors in Greek securities, both directly as a result of the redenomination and indirectly as a result of the severe macroeconomic dislocation that would likely follow. It could also pose a threat to the euro’s continued existence.
The risk of a Greek exit particularly affects the credit standing of Cyprus (Ba1, Negative), Portugal (Ba3, Negative), Ireland (Ba1, Negative), Italy (A3, Negative) and Spain. However, should Greece leave the euro, posing a threat to the euro’s continued existence, Moody’s would review all euro area sovereign ratings, including those of the Aaa nations.