March 25, 2023

Fitch Downgrades Ratings of Italy and Other Countries

In a statement, the ratings agency said that the affected countries were vulnerable in the near term to monetary and financial shocks.

“Consequently, these sovereigns do not, in Fitch’s view, accrue the full benefits of the euro’s reserve currency status,” it said.

Fitch cut Italy’s rating to A-minus from A-plus; Spain to A from AA-minus; Belgium to AA from AA-plus; Slovenia to A from AA-minus, and Cyprus to BBB-minus from BBB, leaving it just one notch above junk status.

Ireland’s rating of BBB-plus was affirmed.

All of the ratings were given negative outlooks.

Fitch said it had weighed a worsening economic outlook in much of the euro zone against the European Central Bank’s December move to flood the banking sector with cheap three-year money and austerity efforts by governments to curb their debts.

Two weeks ago, Standard Poor’s downgraded the credit ratings of nine euro zone countries, stripping France and Austria of their coveted AAA statuses, and pushing a struggling Portugal into junk territory. Germany kept its AAA status.

Italy is widely seen as the tipping point for the euro zone. If it slid toward default, the whole currency project would be threatened.

Fitch said of Italy: “A more severe rating action was forestalled by the strong commitment of the Italian government to reducing the budget deficit and to implementing structural reform.”

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