The 11 Countries That Still Have Perfect Credit

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1. Australia
> S&P/Moody’s ratings: AAA/Aaa
> S&P/Moody’s outlook: stable/stable
> 2012 GDP growth: 3.7%
> Unemployment rate: 5.8%

Australia’s AAA rating is based on a solid economy and low government spending. By 2012, the economy had grown by an average of 3.5% a year for more than 20 years. The government debt-to-GDP ratio was 27.9% at the end of 2012, low even among countries that received top ratings from all three agencies. If there’s a vulnerability, it’s that much of the economy is based on exports of natural resources and energy to fast-growing economies, especially China. Growth in the last few years has been stressed by softening conditions in China, but not nearly enough to threaten Australia’s high ratings.

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2. Canada
> S&P/Moody’s ratings: AAA/Aaa
> S&P/Moody’s outlook: stable/stable
> 2012 GDP growth: 1.7%
> Unemployment rate: 6.9%

Canada’s economy mirrors the U.S. economy. It has a big automotive sector. Technology companies are growing in and around Vancouver and Toronto. It is the largest supplier of energy to the U.S., including oil, natural gas, uranium and hydroelectricity. In all, roughly three quarters of Canadian exports go to the U.S. The country was hit hard by the 2008-2009 recession, first with its automotive sector slumping and then with declining commodity prices, especially oil. Canadian banks, however, largely weathered the economic storm. Also, recent rising oil prices and exports to the U.S. have boosted the economy.

3. Denmark
> S&P/Moody’s ratings: AAA/Aaa
> S&P/Moody’s outlook: stable/stable
> 2012 GDP growth: -0.4%
> Unemployment rate: 6.6%

Denmark’s finances are in solid shape, despite after-effects from the 2008-2009 financial crisis and the eurozone crisis. Government debt is 59% of GDP, higher than any other AAA rated economy. Denmark has considerable strengths, including a vibrant maritime industry and a strong pharmaceutical industry. Unemployment, however, remains relatively high at 6.6%, but the rate has come down slowly from 7.4% 12 months earlier.

4. Finland
> S&P/Moody’s ratings: AAA/Aaa
> S&P/Moody’s outlook: stable/stable
> 2012 GDP growth: -0.8%
> Unemployment rate: 8.0%

Finland became an economic star in the 1990s and the first part of the 21st century because of rapid growth in technology and telecommunications. Nokia contributed a quarter of the country’s growth and paid as much as 23% of Finnish corporate income taxes by itself between 1998 and 2007, according to The Economist. But the recession and the eurozone crisis have hurt the economy. Perhaps worse has been Nokia’s decline in the face of Apple’s ascendancy.

5. Germany
> S&P/Moody’s ratings: AAA/Aaa
> S&P/Moody’s outlook: stable/negative
> 2012 GDP growth: 0.9%
> Unemployment rate: 5.2%

The last few years have not been easy for Germany because of the ongoing struggles of eurozone nations such as Greece, Cyprus, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, and Italy. However, many economists believe the worst of Europe’s economic troubles are over. That should help Germany’s exports, which are already equivalent to more than 51% of total GDP. While Moody’s says the German government finances are in good shape, the ratings agency maintains a negative outlook on German debt because of all the contingent liabilities the country assumed keeping the eurozone afloat.

6. Luxembourg
> S&P/Moody’s ratings: AAA/Aaa
> S&P/Moody’s outlook: stable/negative
> 2012 GDP growth: 0.3%
> Unemployment rate: 5.8%

Three factors help Luxembourg’s credit rating: it’s close to France, Germany, and Belgium; it has a diversified economy; and its financial sector has helped insure that its per capita incomes are among the world’s highest. Luxembourg suffered from the 2008 financial crisis and slowdown prompted by the debt problems elsewhere in the eurozone. The nation’s GDP fell by 0.7% in 2008, and then by an additional 4.1% in 2009.