Fitch: Greek Debt Deal a Default
Baku, October 29 (AZERTAC). Fitch Ratings became the first major credit ratings agency to pass judgment on the European Union`s anticrisis plans Friday, saying that the proposed Greek debt exchange would constitute a default and that none of the plans remove the risk of further downgrades for other sovereigns. Fitch said that after the default, the country`s rating would probably be in the B category or lower. All three major ratings agencies previously said such a plan would push Greece into a default-rating category. The comments followed EU`s agreement reached on Thursday to stem the region`s debt crisis by dealing with Greece`s debt, recapitalizing European banks and enhancing the capabilities of the euro-zone bailout fund. For Greece, leaders and banks agreed to a deal that will see holders of Greek bonds write down their holdings by 50%. The plan "is a necessary step to put the Greek sovereign`s public finances on a more sustainable footing, notwithstanding that—if accepted—the 50% nominal haircut on the proposed bond exchange would be viewed by the agency as a default event under its distressed-debt-exchange criteria," Fitch said. The ratings agency said the write-downs won`t translate into a comparable reduction in the country`s overall debt. It expects Greece`s public debt to peak at 142% of gross domestic product in 2013, "still by far the highest in the euro zone," before coming back down to 120% of GDP by 2020. "Fitch recognizes the significant challenges that the Greek sovereign will continue to face following the proposed debt exchange, against a backdrop of anemic growth, austerity fatigue—possibly reducing the capacity to implement tough but necessary structural reforms—and continuing high debt levels," it said. As for the bailout fund, Fitch assigned the amended European Financial Stability Facility debt program a triple-A rating despite an increase in its effective lending capacity. "The agreement to materially increase the size of the EFSF`s lending capacity to around €1 trillion is a critical first step to enhance market confidence in the ability of policy makers to limit the risk of contagion spreading to the core euro-area countries," Fitch said. Fitch added that sovereign ratings will remain at risk of further downgrades. "Parallels with the euro-area summit of July 21, when a warm afterglow of confidence quickly dissipated, underline the importance of rapid and full implementation of the policy commitments," Fitch said. "Further bouts of financial market volatility appear likely and downward pressure on sovereign ratings will persist."