Negative Credit Outlooks Rise as Crisis Drags on Global Growth, Says Fitch

In its latest global cross-sector credit outlook report, Fitch Ratings says that in the last six months the proportion of ratings with negative credit outlooks has roughly doubled across the sovereign (19.8% versus 10.3%), international public finance (48.3% versus 22.4%), financial institution (19.3% versus 10.7%) and insurance sectors (11.1% versus 5.6%).

The credit ratings agency (CRA) said that the change has been driven mainly by new shocks centred on the eurozone, which continue to drag on the global economic recovery and also percolate through to other sectors and, to an increasing extent, other regions. By contrast, greater rating outlook stability was shown in US public finance, corporates and infrastructure.

The weak US recovery reflects the gradual rebalancing of the economy, such as the unwinding of excessive household debt and the housing market correction, rather than a permanent downshift in the growth rate of the economy. Risks include uncertainty regarding fiscal policy and the diminished capacity for significant fiscal and monetary policy stimulus.

Many large emerging markets face slowing growth and macroeconomic policy or rebalancing challenges. This is even as emerging market economies generally are showing impressive resilience to tough global conditions and are outperforming developed countries.

Fitch added that the universe of highest grade ratings (AAA and AA) continues to shrink, with all eight global sectors experiencing reductions since the end of 2010. The sharpest decline occurred in international public finance, where eurozone sovereign downgrades had a negative knock-on effect and the high-grade rating segment halved to 26% in the last six months. For other sectors, the reduction was in the single-digit percentage point range.

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