PIIGS Downgrades Begin: Portugal Zapped 4 grades by Moody’s

By John Galt
July 5, 2011

When you go to Moody’s home page and read the information about the downgrade (available at this link) the lack of faith in the ECB’s plans to quasi-monetize their way out of the European Union PIIGS crisis has been exposed. Yesterday it was S&P commenting on the Greek bailout and today’s move by Moody’s to move Portugal from Baa1 to Ba2 is a bit of a shock to a nation already struggling to implement austerity Juncker style. The reasons they provided for the negative outlook were crystal clear to even the most casual of observers.

The following drivers prompted Moody’s decision to downgrade and assign a negative outlook:

1. The growing risk that Portugal will require a second round of official financing before it can return to the private market, and the increasing possibility that private sector creditor participation will be required as a pre-condition.

2. Heightened concerns that Portugal will not be able to fully achieve the deficit reduction and debt stabilisation targets set out in its loan agreement with the European Union (EU) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) due to the formidable challenges the country is facing in reducing spending, increasing tax compliance, achieving economic growth and supporting the banking system.

Translation: They don’t think Portugal is going to make it either.

The reasoning behind the ratings rationale is even more fascinating:

1) The government’s plans to restrain its spending may prove difficult to implement in full in sectors such as healthcare, state-owned enterprises and regional and local governments.

2) The government’s plans to improve tax compliance (and, hence, generate the projected additional revenues) within the timeframe of the loan programme and, in combination with the factor above, may hinder the authorities’ ability to reduce the budget deficit as targeted.

3) Economic growth may turn out to be weaker than expected, which would compromise the government’s deficit reduction targets. Moreover, the anticipated fiscal consolidation and bank deleveraging would further exacerbate this. Consensus growth forecasts for the country have been revised downwards following the EU/IMF loan agreement. Even after these downward revisions, Moody’s believes the risks to economic growth remain skewed to the downside.

4) There is a non-negligible possibility that Portugal’s banking sector will require support beyond what is currently envisaged in the EU/IMF loan agreement. Any capital infusion into the banking system from the government would add additional debt to its balance sheet.

In other words the smell of PIIGS cooking on the griddle should be wafting into everyone’s noses in the Bruge about now and starting to make banksters sweat in Paris, Brussels, Vienna, and Berlin among other places. The reaction of the Euro was simple enough if anyone cares to guess when the announcement was made:

(Chart from INO.com)

As the housing data and economic reports start to flow out of Southern Europe, look for more destruction of the Euro currency in the weeks and months ahead.

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