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Thread: EU slams ratings agencies after Portugal downgraded

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    EU slams ratings agencies after Portugal downgraded

    From Reuters:

    European politicians accused credit rating agencies on Wednesday of anti-European bias after Moody's downgrade of Portugal's debt to "junk" cast new doubt on EU efforts to rescue distressed euro zone states without debt restructuring.

    European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the decision to cut Lisbon's rating by four notches so soon after it became the third country to receive an EU/IMF bailout was fuelling speculation in financial markets.
    EU slams ratings agencies after Portugal downgraded | Reuters

    The criticism is not necessarily unfair. The timing of the decision can certainly create perceptual issues. It might even trigger confidence issues that could fuel a self-fulfilling prophecy via market shifts that lead to a spike in interest rates/increased financing difficulties.

    IMO, the problem isn't so much with the rating but the process of frequent, incremental changes in the ratings. That process exacerbates uncertainty and undermines the credibility of the ratings. A far better practice would be to fully estimate a country's credit risk based on current conditions and the likely outcome over the next 12-24 months and then set the credit rating. While such an approach would, in the case of Portugal, have led to a deeper initial cut in that country's credit rating, it would eliminate the ad hoc, reactive practice of frequently adjusting the rating to the point that one can legitimately ask whether the current rating really has any merit. Unfortunately, at this time, there is little indication that any of the major ratings agencies are interested in providing ratings with a goal that the ratings have a shelf-life of sorts and, thereby, can provide a degree of certainty over the next 12-24 months.

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    Re: EU slams ratings agencies after Portugal downgraded

    The problem is that the ratings agencies are not independent. They get their earnings from Goldman Sachs and co, who have often a vested interest in ratings upgrades and especially downgrades. And since our whole financial system is based on these ratings, then you have a problem of certain financial institutions possibly influencing the ratings in one way or another for profit.. there is a conflict of interest so to say.

    As an example, Lehman Brothers and the whole sub-prime mess. People knew that there was crap in financial instruments they were peddling to others, and the ratings agencies knew it too, but the ratings agencies gave the financial instruments an AAA rating regardless.

    That is why one has to ask why has the above mentioned downgrade come right now? We all understand the Greek situation, but Portugal is no where near the Greek situation. And why not Ireland? It has a far far worse financial situation than Portugal but its ratings have not been touched? That leads to motive... who would benefit the most in pushing Portugal over the edge.... the very people who pay the fees of the ratings agencies....
    PeteEU

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    Re: EU slams ratings agencies after Portugal downgraded

    Quote Originally Posted by PeteEU View Post
    That leads to motive... who would benefit the most in pushing Portugal over the edge.... the very people who pay the fees of the ratings agencies....
    How would they benefit from Portugal's lower ratings? And wasn't Portugal the P of PIGS anyway?

    Everyone already knew it was risky. This is not news.

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