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Moody's slashes Greek rating, may cut further

08. March 2011. | 07:59

Source: ANA

Moody's now has the lowest rating for Greece of all the major credit agencies and is the first to classify Greek government debt as 'highly speculative'.

Moody's cut the country's rating by three notches to B1 from Ba1 with a negative outlook, citing significant risks to the country's fiscal consolidation plan and risks of a debt restructuring.

Moody's now has the lowest rating for Greece of all the major credit agencies and is the first to classify Greek government debt as 'highly speculative'.

The Greek finance ministry said the cut was completely unjustified.

Greece signed in May a 110 billion euro rescue package with the EU and IMF to avoid default, but many see the repayment terms as too onerous.

European Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn told a German newspaper on Saturday that countries that share the euro currency must grant Greece and fellow debt-strapped nation Ireland easier terms on loans they have provided.

Moody's said on Monday that Greece continues to face difficulties with revenue collection and there was a risk that the country did not satisfy solvency criteria attached to EU/IMF support after 2013 which could lead to a debt restructuring.

"The fiscal consolidation measures and structural reforms that are needed to stabilise the country's debt metrics remain very ambitious and are subject to significant implementation risks," the agency said in a statement.

Moody's said it was also concerned by the lack of certainty surrounding the nature of financial support that will be available to Greece after 2013, and its implications for bondholders.

"The likelihood of a default or distressed exchange has risen since its last downgrade of the Greek government debt rating in June 2010," the agency said.

The spread on 10-year Greek debt against benchmark Bunds widened by 8 basis points to 9.13 percent following the Moody's downgrade, while the euro pared gains to edge lower against the U.S. dollar on Monday after the downgrade.

The common currency fell to around $1.3970 from $1.3995 before the news, with investors also looking to book profits after the euro hit a four-month highs of $1.4009 on EBS trading platform on Friday.

Earlier this month, Standard & Poor's said it may cut the sovereign rating of Greece, depending on the details of Europe's crisis fund that euro zone policy makers are discussing.

In January, Fitch became the third rating agency to cut Greek debt to junk, highlighting persisting doubts over the country's ability to pull itself out of a severe debt crisis that has shaken the euro zone.

European Commission on Greece's credit rating downgrading

The European Commission does not comment, according to its standing tactic, on announcements by ratings firms, a spokesperson said here on Monday, when called on to comment on the downgrading by Moody's of Greece's credit rating.

Replying to a relevant question during a press briefing, Amelia Torres said "we have our own assessments that you are aware of and which we publicise at regular intervals," adding that the Commission does not comment on announcements by ratings firms and that "this position does not change whether it concerns Greece or Moody's."

Gov't blasts downgrading

Greece's finance ministry on Monday termed the most recent downgrading of the country's economy by Moody's as "completely unjustified", in a relevant announcement made hours after the development.
According to the ministry, the decision is not based on an "objective and balanced evaluation of the economic conditions being faced by Greece."

Moreover, it charges that the downgrading and the specific timing selected by the ratings firm "make it incomprehensible, and raise serious questions". (ANA-MPA)


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