Staikouras not pessimistic after three agencies reduce Greek outlook to ‘stable’

Staikouras not pessimistic after three agencies reduce Greek outlook to ‘stable’

After three major international rating agencies downgraded the outlook of the Greek economy from "positive" to "stable" within 24 hours due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Greek finance minister said on Friday that "our reading of the report is not negative."

In an interview with Thema FM radio station, Christos Staikouras said markets have already factored in such assessments and there is no sign the acquisition of Greek bonds by the European Central Bank is affected. The agencies kept the Greek credit rating unchanged.

Late on Thursday, in an out-of-schedule rating action, Fitch affirmed Greece's credit rating at BB, two levels below investment grade as of January 2020, but eased the country's outlook to "stable" from "positive".

Likewise on Friday, DBRS Morningstar affirmed its BB (low) rating and switched its outlook to "stable", with Standard & Poor's also affirming its BB- rating and reduced Greece's outlook to "stable". Both rating actions were scheduled and have left the Greek rating three notches below investment grade.

All three agencies have based their projections on the expected recession of the Greek economy this year before rebounding in 2021.

The adjustment of the economic outlook to "stable" and not to "negative" is hardly seen as adverse for Greece given the circumstances, said Antonis Zairis, vice-president of the Association of Business and Retail Sales of Greece and assistant professor at the Neapolis Pafos University.

Noting that Greece is heavily dependent on the service sector, he said it remains to be seen whether in 2021 it can enjoy a V-like rebound.


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