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The Wilder View

The Broad Sovereign Downgrade

Recently I’ve spent time thinking about global bond investors, especially those conservative investors that stick with the high-quality sovereigns. I’ve got news for them: the share of high-quality investment grade sovereigns – BBB- and above is investment grade - is shrinking. Some bullet points comparing ratings in December 2007 to December 2011:

  • From a sample of 76 emerging market (EM) and developed market (DM) economies, 23 sovereigns have been upgraded by S&P (I use S&P specifically, but the agencies usually move in lockstep at a lag). These upgrades span both EM and DM markets, but EM dominated with 19 upgrades overall..
  • The number of high-quality investment grade sovereigns – A- and above – fell by 6.
  • The AAA universe shrank by 2 economies – more is to come with imminent downgrades in Europe.

2007-2011 in charts: moving down in quality

2007

…Vs. 2011

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Håvard Halland Håvard Halland

PHåvard Halland is a natural resource economist at the World Bank, where he leads research and policy agendas in the fields of resource-backed infrastructure finance, sovereign wealth fund policy, extractive industries revenue management, and public financial management for the extractive industries sector. Prior to joining the World Bank, he was a delegate and program manager for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Colombia. He earned a PhD in economics from the University of Cambridge.