Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Moody's maintains the European Union's Aaa rating, changes outlook to negative

Moody's reports,

Moody's Investors Service has today changed to negative from stable its outlook on the Aaa long-term issuer rating of the European Union (EU). The rating agency has also changed to negative from stable its outlook on the provisional (P)Aaa rating of the EU's medium-term note (MTN) programme.
A provisional rating for a debt facility is an indication of the rating Moody's would likely assign to future draw-downs from the facility, pending the receipt of documentation detailing the terms of the debt issuance. Moody's policy is to assign provisional ratings to all MTN programmes.
The outlook change to negative reflects the negative outlooks now assigned to the Aaa sovereign ratings of key contributors to the EU budget: Germany, France, the UK and the Netherlands, which together account for around 45% of the EU's budget revenue. Moody's believes that it is reasonable to assume that the EU's creditworthiness should move in line with the creditworthiness of its strongest key member states considering the significant linkages between member states and the EU, and the likelihood that the large Aaa-rated member states would likely not prioritise their commitment to backstop the EU debt obligations over servicing their own debt obligations. On 23 July 2012, Moody's had changed to negative its outlooks for the Aaa ratings of Germany and the Netherlands.
 
 On the rationale for the negative outlook Moody's explains,
The negative outlook on the EU's long-term ratings reflects the negative outlook on the Aaa ratings of the member states with large contributions to the EU budget: Germany, France, the UK and the Netherlands, which together account for around 45% of the EU's budget revenue. The creditworthiness of these member states is highly correlated, as they are all exposed, albeit to varying degrees, to the euro area debt crisis.
Moody's believes that it is reasonable to assume the same probability of default by the EU on its debt obligations as the highest rated key members states' probability of default. Whereas Moody's acknowledges that there are structural features in place that enhance the EU's creditworthiness, they are in Moody's view not sufficient to delink the EU's ratings from the ratings of its strongest key member states. In particular, in the event of a scenario of extreme stress in which Aaa-rated member states would default on their debt obligations, 1) defaults on the loans that back the EU debt would be highly likely, 2) the EU's cash reserve would likely be stressed, and 3) the EU member states would likely not prioritise their commitment to backstop the EU debt obligations over the service of their own debt obligations. Hence, it is reasonable to assume that the EU's creditworthiness should move in line with the creditworthiness of its strongest key member states.

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