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Moody’s France downgrade: French turkey au sauce Hollandaise

As I was expecting, Moody’s did not raise Turkey’s credit rating to investment grade in its annual review released a day before its credit risk conference in Istanbul on Nov. 21.

I have always argued that while an upgrade is a possibility in 2013, it would be too optimistic to expect one this year, but some analysts were nevertheless hopeful. However, the interesting Moody’s rating decision of the week was not about Turkey: while Americans were getting ready for their annual Thanksgiving turkey dinner, the agency stuffed France by stripping the country of its triple-A rating on Monday.

Here are the first two paragraphs of my latest Hurriyet Daily News (HDN) column, where I argue that the Moody’s downgrade of France does not make a lot of sense. Actually, I think I am misrepresenting my stance. It makes a lot of sense, as William Oman noted in Roubini Global Economics. But the timing seems to be a bit off. I argue that two of the three reasons Moody’s gives for the downgrade do not really make sense. I would have downgraded France myself as well, but much earlier, not when the country is preparing to undertake ambitious reforms. Anyway, you can read the whole thing at the HDN website. Speaking of reforms, I think the downgrade might actually be a blessing for France: President Hollande may use it push forward with his reform agenda.

Oh, before I forget: S&P announced today that it was keeping France’s rating, which it had already cut, ahead of the pack, early in the year. Many major media outlets, such as Bloomberg, emphasized that S&P saw 1/3 chance of a rating cut next year, which is in line with Moody’s, as the latter noted that further downgrades could be on the way. For me, equally interesting was the fact that S&P sounded hopeful of reforms: “The French government remains committed to budgetary and structural reform that would build on measures it has proposed so far to improve the country’s growth potential”. Note that this is in contrast with Moody’s, who stated that France does not have a good track record of implementing reform in justifying a cut after the country had agreed on a competitiveness pact.

I think I have made myself clear. Even if I didn’t manage to, I have to go,a as my beloved Besiktas has a football (that’s soccer for you Yanks) and hoops double-header in exactly three minutes. But speaking of Yanks, Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers- and also happy shopping-  hope you didn’t catch a cold waiting in lines or get trampled:)…

4 Responses to “Moody’s France downgrade: French turkey au sauce Hollandaise”

edeliveliNovember 24th, 2012 at 6:56 am

I have no idea what I want to say as well:)

OK, seriously: Basically it is this: " I argue that two of the three reasons Moody’s gives for the downgrade do not really make sense" I go over those three reasons and why they don't make sense in the hyperlinked column- did you have a chance to have a look at that?

MarcelNovember 26th, 2012 at 5:25 am

"à la sauce hollandaise"…if you want to spice up your English with a French touch at least it ought to be correct…

edeliveliNovember 28th, 2012 at 12:51 pm

I've always had problems with those, English is so simple with "the". Thank God I am not writing in French:)…

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Dan Steinbock

Dr Dan Steinbock is a recognized expert of the multipolar world. He focuses on international business, international relations, investment and risk among the major advanced economies (G7) and large emerging economies (BRICS and beyond). In addition to his advisory activities (www.differencegroup.net), he is affiliated with major US universities as well as international think-tanks, such as India China and America Institute (USA), Shanghai Institutes for International Studies (China) and EU Center (Singapore).

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