June 19, 2024

Moody’s Downgrades Puerto Rico’s Debt

Opinion »

Townies: Cinder Block City

What happens when you stop moving? The city grows around you.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/14/business/moodys-downgrades-puerto-ricos-debt.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

French Downgrade Complicates Life for Bailout Funds

Moody’s on Monday cut its rating on French long-term sovereign debt by a single notch, from AAA to Aa1. The move had been largely expected, following a similar decision in January by Standard Poor’s and amid continuing economic stagnation. Markets greeted the news with a yawn.

But the European Financial Stability Facility, the euro zone’s temporary bailout fund, and its permanent replacement, the European Stability Mechanism, still enjoy AAA ratings at Moody’s — despite the fact that France, as the second-largest economy in the 17-nation euro zone, is on the hook for more bailout guarantees than any other member except Germany.

Many analysts say it is just a matter of time before Moody’s downgrades the bailout funds in turn, which could force them to pay more for their borrowing.

“We believe that a downgrade of the E.F.S.F. is coming in the next few days,” said Michael Leister, interest rate strategist at Commerzbank in London. “It was a surprise that it didn’t happen mechanically, at the same time as France.”

The bailout funds are crucial to fixing Europe’s sovereign debt problems. They have committed tens of billions of euros to Greece, Portugal and Ireland. The funds will also be part of a forthcoming recapitalization of the ailing Spanish banking sector, if not of a wider rescue of the country. Cyprus, too, is close to signing a bailout agreement.

In theory, credit ratings should reflect the risk that a lender will not be repaid, and are thus inversely related to the interest rate the lender demands to hold a debt. But with the global financial system fragile and central banks holding rates down, that relationship has been strained. Both France and the United States, which lost its AAA rating at Standard Poor’s in 2011, continue to borrow near record low levels.

Moody’s in fact warned in July that the outlook for the E.F.S.F. was negative, and that it might downgrade the fund if there were “a deterioration in the creditworthiness of the participating euro area member states,” including France.

Jessica Eddens, a spokeswoman for Moody’s, confirmed Thursday by e-mail that the E.F.S.F. and the E.S.M. continued to enjoy an AAA rating, with a negative outlook.

“Moody’s will assess the implications of the downgrade of the French government’s rating for the E.F.S.F.’s and E.S.M.’s ratings as a matter of course,” she said, “focusing in particular on whether the support available from the remaining AAA guarantors and shareholders is consistent with the E.F.S.F. and E.S.M. retaining the highest ratings.”

For the moment, the Moody’s downgrade of France is complicating life for the E.F.S.F., which has had to put its financing plans on hold while officials work through the implications of the French downgrade.

The fund had been preparing to sell three-year bonds, for which it said there was solid investor demand. But its rules require that new bond issues must be fully guaranteed by euro zone member states with better ratings than the E.F.S.F. The fund has now halted that planned offering, at least temporarily.

The E.F.S.F. “is currently unable to proceed until this technical aspect is resolved,” Christophe Frankel, the E.F.S.F.’s chief financial officer, said in a statement. He noted that the fund’s issuance of short-term bills had not been affected, as France’s short-term ratings have not changed.

The solution to the E.F.S.F.’s problem? Just wait.

Mr. Leister noted that once the E.F.S.F.’s credit rating has been cut, it will be at or below the French level, and, under the fund’s own rules, will once more able to issue debt— a rare case where an issuer hopes to be downgraded.

Wolfgang Proissl, a spokesman for the E.F.S.F., declined to comment on the potential for a downgrade of the fund and how that would affect its actions. “I can only tell you that we are carefully considering the situation,” he said.

Mr. Leister predicted that the impact on borrowing costs would be limited, as investors are prepared for the inevitable. “Yields on E.F.S.F. debt will go up,” he said, “but there’s not going to be a huge spike.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/23/business/global/daily-euro-zone-watch.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Downgrade of Debt Ratings Underscores Europe’s Woes

Another memory jog came Friday from Greece, the original source of Europe’s debt troubles. Talks hit a snag between the new Greek government and the banks and other private investors that Athens hopes will agree to take losses on their debt so that Greece can avoid a default.

Together, those developments underscore that even as Europe’s debt turmoil enters its third year, no clear solutions are yet in sight — despite recent signs that a new lending program by the European Central Bank might be easing financial market pressures.

S. P. warned in December that it might downgrade many of the 17 nations that share the euro, largely because it said European politicians were moving too slowly to strengthen the monetary union and because the euro zone’s problems were propelling Europe toward its second recession in three years.

European politicians, in turn, criticized S. P.’s downgrade plans as providing no meaningful new information to investors but simply stoking a sense of crisis.

To some extent, the prospect of rating downgrades has already been priced into recent bond auctions by Italy, Spain and other countries. Italy, in fact, completed another fairly successful bond auction on Friday, even as rumors of the downgrades had begun to swirl.

But the downgrades may now add to the borrowing costs of the nations affected. Some commercial banks that are required to hold only the highest-rated government securities will have to replace French bonds with other assets, like bonds of Germany.

And the downgrades cannot help but add to the gloom pervading Europe’s economic climate.

Today’s rating actions are primarily driven by our assessment that the policy initiatives that have been taken by European policy makers in recent weeks may be insufficient to fully address ongoing systemic stresses in the euro zone,” S.. P said.

Finance Minister François Baroin of France said Friday that the loss of his country’s pristine AAA rating, cut a notch to AA+, was “not good news” but was “not a catastrophe.” He insisted that the country was headed in the right direction and that no ratings agency would dictate the policies of France, which has Europe’s second-biggest economy, behind Germany’s.

But the downgrades pose fresh challenges for Europe’s political leaders, particularly President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, who is expected to run for re-election this spring and had long cited his country’s AAA credit rating as a badge of honor.

In August, when S. P. cut the United States a notch from its top-rank AAA rating, markets briefly plunged. But bond investors have continued to flock to the debt of the United States, which as the world’s largest economy has retained the perception of a financial safe haven. That has kept the United States government’s interest rates at very low levels. But none of the countries downgraded on Friday can necessarily count on such a reaction.

After Friday, the only euro zone nations retaining their top AAA ratings are Germany, the Netherlands, Finland and Luxembourg.

Italy and Spain, which are considered the two big euro-zone economies most vulnerable to an escalation of debt problems, both were downgraded two notches, Italy to BBB+ and Spain to A.

“It will make it harder to erect firewalls around struggling euro zone economies and convince investors that things are more sustainable,” said Simon Tilford, the chief economist for the Center for European Reform in London.

Stocks were down broadly if not deeply in Europe and the United States on Friday, as rumors of the downgrades preceded S. P.’s announcement, which came after the close of trading on Wall Street. And the euro fell to a 16-month low against the dollar.

Just as significant as the ratings downgrades may be the suspension on Friday of the creditor talks in Greece — whose debt S. P. long ago gave junk status.

In October, the European Union pledged to write off 100 billion euros ($127.8 billion) of Greece’s debt if bondholders would agree to voluntarily accept 50 percent losses on their Greek holdings. Such an arrangement, known as private-sector involvement, or P.S.I., has been pushed by Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany as a way of forcing banks, not only European taxpayers, to foot the bill for bailing out Greece.

But talks broke down on Friday between Greece and the commercial banks.

David Jolly and Steven Erlanger contributed reporting from Paris, Landon Thomas Jr. from London and Gaia Pianigiani from Rome.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=2480446208534edf2ea916a9b7be90a3

Moody’s Downgrades Three French Banks

Moody’s cut various ratings for Société Générale, BNP Paribas and Crédit Agricole by one notch, citing the problems each faced recently in raising money on the open market.

The ratings agency said the banks could face further losses on their holdings of Greek and Italian government bonds should the crisis deepen.

Just a day earlier, Europe’s main banking regulator said that all French banks had passed a test designed to see whether financial institutions had enough capital to weather unexpected shocks.

And on Friday, Goldman Sachs upgraded its recommendation for holding shares of European banks to neutral from underweight.

It said a decision Thursday by the European Central Bank to lend troubled banks dollars for longer periods under eased terms would help the banks weather the effects of the crisis and an economic downturn.

But the Moody’s assessment includes more dire assumptions about the future of the euro than the European Banking Authority used. Moody’s also repeated a warning that Greece and several other countries could default on their debts and exit the euro zone if politicians failed to find a solution to their problems.

If Société Générale, BNP Paribas and Crédit Agricole continue to have trouble raising money, Moody’s said, the French government will probably step in to provide them with financial support, raising the specter of at least a partial nationalization of the biggest French banks.

The French government has a long history of stepping in to support its banks, considering them integral to the economy. French officials have said they are ready to backstop the banks if the markets force their hand, but they insist the banks are sound.

Many banks in Europe have had trouble raising money in recent months and have had to turn to their national central banks and the E.C.B. instead.

Société Générale, BNP and Crédit Agricole had “materially” increased their borrowing from the French central bank in September, Moody’s said, adding that it was “unlikely that markets will return to normalcy soon.”

Standard Poor’s warned earlier in the week that it could cut the credit ratings of 15 countries in the euro zone — including France — by two notches, as the bill from the crisis grows and the European economy risks tipping into a recession.

If such a downgrade were to happen, all banks in those countries would have even more financing problems.

Société Générale and BNP recently cut the amount of Italian debt they hold. Each also recently took losses on their investments in Greek bonds.

But Société Générale and Crédit Agricole remain exposed to Greece through subsidiaries there that could pose fresh problems if Greece were to default or leave the euro, Moody’s said.

BNP is exposed to Italy further through a retail banking outlet.

To maintain a sizable capital cushion so as to absorb any fresh losses the crisis might inflict, each bank has announced plans to sell assets. But with investor appetite reduced by the crisis, Moody’s warned that the banks could have a hard time finding buyers.

Société Générale said it was “confident” it could reach its capital goals and “surprised” by the Moody’s decision to downgrade it.

Société Générale is one of a handful of European banks that have been the subject of rumors of financial difficulty. The bank has vigorously denied them, and last summer called on the French government to investigate what it said were attacks against it by short-sellers, or investors betting against its stock.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/10/business/global/moodys-downgrades-top-french-banks.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Moody’s Downgrades Three French Banks

Moody’s cut its ratings on the long-term debt of BNP and Credit Agicole by one notch to Aa3, concluding reviews that began in June and were continued in September. Societe Generale’s long-term debt was cut by one notch to A1.

The downgrades were driven by the increasing difficulties the banks were having in raising funding and the worsening economic outlook, Moody’s said.

Late on Thursday Europe’s banking watchdog, the European Banking Authority (EBA), said the region’s banks must find 114.7 billion euros of extra capital, more than predicted two months ago, to make them strong enough to withstand the euro zone debt crisis and restore investor confidence.

But Moody’s said its ratings did take into account the fact that all three French banks were likely to benefit from state support if the crisis deepened.

“Liquidity and funding conditions have deteriorated significantly for ,” said Moody’s, adding that the banks have historically relied on wholesale funding markets.

“The probability that the will face further funding pressures has risen in line with the worsening European debt crisis.”

All three of the banks have undertaken programmes to sell assets to reduce their reliance on outside funding, but Moody’s said that since many European banks were doing the same thing such asset sales might not generate as much money as the banks hoped.

On Thursday, France’s Autorite de Controle Prudentiel (ACP) regulator said the France’s biggest banks needed to find 7.3 billion euros (6.2 billion pounds) in fresh capital by mid-2012, lower than a previous estimate of 8.8 billion euros.

The Moody’s downgrade comes shortly after Standard Poor’s placed its ratings on BNP, Credit Agricole, and Societe Generale on “credit watch with negative implications” on December 7.

SP had earlier put a series of European states, including France, on watch negative over fears that political leaders were not moving decisively enough to curb the deepening sovereign debt crisis.

The three French banks could not immediately be reached for comment.

(Reporting by Leila Abboud, James Regan; Editing by David Cowell and Mike Nesbit)

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2011/12/09/business/business-us-france-banks-moodys.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

S.&P. Warns Euro Zone of Ratings Downgrades

The first reports of the agency’s action, published before the markets closed, led United States Treasuries to rally strongly, the euro to fall and stocks on Wall Street to lose some of their earlier gains.

The action by Standard Poor’s, which had never before threatened France and Germany’s top ratings, came at the beginning of an important week in Europe, with European Union leaders gathering in Brussels on Thursday and Friday to try to finally stop the crisis.

But the move was also likely to stir further anger among European politicians who have argued that previous credit downgrades of countries like Spain and Italy have worsened the crisis.

The agency said the action was “prompted by our belief that systemic stresses in the euro zone have risen in recent weeks to the extent that they now put downward pressure on the credit standing of the euro zone as a whole.”

Standard Poor’s said it hoped to complete its review of the nations’ credit risks “as soon as possible” after the Brussels summit meeting. “If the response of policy makers is not viewed by investors as robust, we believe market confidence could take another, possibly steep, drop downward,” the agency said.

In addition to Germany and France, S. P. named the Netherlands, Austria, Finland and Luxembourg as countries that could lose their AAA rating. That underscores just how far the crisis has spread, because those nations were considered the safest. The other countries in the euro zone do not have the top rating. Cyprus was already on credit watch, and Greek debt has been downgraded to junk status.

The agency warned that ratings could be lowered by “up to one notch for Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Netherlands and Luxembourg, and by up to two notches for the other governments,” including France.

President Nicolas Sarkozy of France has made it a priority of his coming presidential re-election campaign to ensure that France keeps its flawless credit rating — a feat that has grown more difficult as France’s efforts to keep the euro from fracturing become more costly.

Mr. Sarkozy and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany met in Paris on Monday, agreeing to propose changes to Europe’s underlying treaties to impose greater fiscal discipline on profligate nations’ budgets.

The warning from Standard Poor’s chimes with the feeling in Europe that time is running out. Germany, in particular, is asking that a new system of monitoring and punishments for overspending countries be put in place to stop a similar crisis from happening again.

In the United States, reports of the impending action, first reported by The Financial Times, affected Treasuries the most. They rallied in the afternoon, “suggesting a flight to safety,” said Guy LeBas, an economist at Janney Montgomery Scott. “It definitely had a sizable effect.” After rising earlier, 10-year Treasury yields fell to about 2.03 percent.

Last week, investors seemed to be increasingly hopeful of a quick solution to Europe’s debt crisis. But on Monday, stock markets gave up some of their gains for the day. Wall Street, up about 1.8 percent in the early afternoon, ended up about 1 percent. Some Wall Street analysts viewed the announcement as a reminder about what was at stake this week.

“You could call this a nudge from behind,” said Andrew Wilkinson, chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak Company in New York. “Yes, there’s every chance there could be downgrades, but investors will be very unfriendly to the euro zone in general if there is no improvement this week in terms of a plan.”

Last month, another big rating agencies, Moody’s Investors Service, issued its own bleak report on Europe’s sovereign debt crisis, warning of rising prospects for multiple defaults by countries in the euro zone and of credit rating downgrades of nations across Europe if leaders failed to resolve their problems.

In its announcement Monday, Standard Poor’s blamed tightening credit conditions, disagreement about how to restore investor confidence and bring about long-term economic convergence, rising government and household debt and a growing risk of recession in 2012.

Liz Alderman contributed reporting.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=50382738e4e3464f5ebe322f90c0c443

Stocks Slump in First U.S. Trading Since Downgrade

Following on from a dismal showing in European and Asian markets, the broader United States market as measured by the Standard Poor’s 500-stock index was down 31.33 points, or 2.61 percent. The Dow Jones industrial average was down 230.8 points, or 2.02 percent, and the Nasdaq was down 69.06 points, or 2.73 percent.

Within the first two hours of trading, the S.P. 500 was down about 14 percent over the last 11 sessions, one analyst noted, bringing back echoes of the last financial crisis. Last week represented the worst five-day trading period since November 2008.

“The rapidity of the decline and its force now rivals almost anything we’ve seen in the post-war era,” said Dan Greenhaus, the chief global strategist for BTIG. “We have fallen so far and so quickly that we are up there with the most vicious sell-offs.”

The decision late Friday by the ratings agency Standard Poor’s to downgrade the United States’s debt rating one level to AA+ from AAA has global implications, said Alessandro Giansanti, a credit market strategist at ING in Amsterdam.

“We can see that this may force the U.S. to move more aggressively to cut spending,” he said, something that could drive the already weak economy into recession and weigh on the economies of all of its trading partners. “That’s the main driver” of the stock market declines, he said.

The market took a sharper turn downward less than an hour into New York trading, as Standard Poor’s, the ratings agency, announced additional downgrades, including the debt of the housing giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Gold topped $1,700 for the first time, and the dollar continued to weaken against most major currencies. The Treasury’s benchmark 10-year note yield was down to 2.37 percent from 2.56 percent on Friday.

Guy LeBas, chief fixed-income strategist for Janney Montgomery Scott, said higher prices for bonds were “a testament to the fact that global investors view U.S. bonds as the safe-haven asset choice.”

While the debt downgrade was likely to continue to reverberate, investors are also concerned about the weak United States economy and Europe’s debt problems.

Some investors are turning their attention to a meeting of the Federal Reserve this week and whether there will be any new measures to stimulate the economy.

Kevin H. Giddis, the executive managing director and president for fixed-income capital markets at Morgan Keegan Company, said the Federal Open Markets Committee was not likely to take action on interest rates, but would most likely discuss what policies would give support to the market.

“The rest of the conversations should happen in Washington,” Mr. Giddis said in a research note. “This country has an economic problem, which can only be fixed with jobs, not governmental liquidity, and that is the one that worries me the most.”

The interest rates on Spanish and Italian bonds plummeted after the European Central Bank expanded its purchases of government debt to support those countries for the first time. The yield on 10-year Spanish bonds dropped by 88 basis points, while comparable Italian yields fell 80 basis points. News agencies cited traders as saying the E.C.B. was intervening in the secondary market to buy the securities.

The E.C.B. declined to comment Monday. But in a statement issued late Sunday after an emergency conference call, the central bank said it would “actively implement” its bond-buying program to address “dysfunctional market segments.” It did not specify which bonds it would buy, but hinted it would be Spain and Italy by welcoming their efforts to restructure their economies and cut spending.

Previously the bond buying had been limited to bonds from Greece, Portugal and Ireland — the three euro-zone countries that have already received international bailouts. Fears that the bloc’s sovereign debt crisis would spread to the much bigger economies of Italy and Spain had contributed greatly to recent market losses.

Christine Hauser reported from New York and David Jolly from Paris. Bettina Wassener contributed reporting from Hong Kong, Jack Ewing from Frankfurt and Hiroko Tabuchi from Tokyo.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=3eced2c36687d19ced55c6955f95933d

S.& P. Downgrades Debt Rating of U.S. for the First Time

The company, one of three major agencies that offer advice to investors in debt securities, said it was cutting its rating of long-term federal debt to AA+, one notch below the top grade of AAA. It described the decision as a judgment about the nation’s leaders, writing that “the gulf between the political parties” had reduced its confidence in the government’s ability to manage its finances.

“The downgrade reflects our view that the effectiveness, stability, and predictability of American policymaking and political institutions have weakened at a time of ongoing fiscal and economic challenge,” the company said in a statement.

The Obama administration reacted with indignation, noting that the company had made a significant mathematical mistake in a document that it provided to the Treasury Department on Friday afternoon, overstating the federal debt by about $2 trillion.

“A judgment flawed by a $2 trillion error speaks for itself,” a Treasury spokeswoman said.

The downgrade could lead investors to demand higher interest rates from the federal government and other borrowers, raising costs for governments, businesses and home buyers. But many analysts say the impact could be modest, in part because the other ratings agencies, Moody’s and Fitch, have decided not to downgrade the government at this time.

The announcement came after markets closed for the weekend, but there was no evidence of any immediate disruption. A spokesman for the Federal Reserve said the decision would not affect the ability of banks to borrow money by pledging government debt as collateral, a statement that could set the tone for the reaction of the broader market.

S. P. had prepared investors for the downgrade announcement with a series of warnings earlier this year that it would act if Congress did not agree to increase the government’s borrowing limit and adopt a long-term plan for reducing its debts by at least $4 trillion over the next decade.

Earlier this week, President Obama signed into law a Congressional compromise that raised the debt ceiling but reduced the debt by at least $2.1 trillion.

On Friday, the company notified the Treasury that it planned to issue a downgrade after the markets closed, and sent the department a copy of the announcement, which is a standard procedure.

A Treasury staff member noticed the $2 trillion mistake within the hour, according to a department official. The Treasury called the company and explained the problem. About an hour later, the company conceded the problem but did not indicate how it planned to proceed, the official said. Hours later, S. P. issued a revised release with new numbers but the same conclusion.

In a statement early Saturday morning, Standard Poor’s said the difference could be attributed to a “change in assumptions” in its methodology but that it had “no impact on the rating decision.”

In a release on Friday announcing the downgrade, it warned that the government still needed to make progress in paying its debts to avoid further downgrades.

“The downgrade reflects our opinion that the fiscal consolidation plan that Congress and the administration recently agreed to falls short of what, in our view, would be necessary to stabilize the government’s medium-term debt dynamics,” it said.

The credit rating agencies have been trying to restore their credibility after missteps leading to the financial crisis. A Congressional panel called them “essential cogs in the wheel of financial destruction” after their wildly optimistic models led them to give top-flight reviews to complex mortgage securities that later collapsed. A downgrade of federal debt is the kind of controversial decision that critics have sometimes said the agencies are unwilling to make.

Eric Dash contributed reporting from New York.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=88a7e156515aacfcf2d4ed13ccc8d4da

Greek and Cyprus Credit Ratings Cut in Latest E.U. Downgrade

LONDON — In the latest downgrades to hit the euro zone, Greece had its credit rating cut by Standard Poor’s on Wednesday, while Moody’s Investors Service cut the rating for Cyprus.

S.P.’s rating for Greece, already in junk territory, was reduced two notches to CC with a negative outlook. In a statement, S.P. said that the proposed restructuring of Greek government debt as part of a second bailout was a selective default — a prospect ratings agencies had warned about when the plan was being discussed.

S.P. also said that despite the new aid package agreed on last week, there was still a good chance that Greece would default on its debt.

Under the second bailout, banks and other private investors are to contribute about €50 billion, or $72 billion, by swapping their existing debt for new bonds..

“Standard Poor’s has concluded that the proposed restructuring of Greek government debt would amount to a selective default under our rating methodology,” the agency said. “We view the proposed restructuring as a ‘distressed exchange’ because, based on public statements by European policymakers, it is likely to result in losses for commercial creditors.”

Moody’s cut Cyprus’s long-term government bond rating two levels to Baa1 — still an investment grade — from A2. It assigned a negative outlook, signaling the next move may be another downgrade, and cut its short-term ratings.

An explosion at a naval base this month badly damaged the Vasilikos power plant. That has caused outages, and Moody’s said that the shortage is likely to hurt the economy, which it now expects to stagnate this year, and expand only 1 percent next year.

Moody’s also cited the “increasingly fractious domestic political climate” and “the material risk that at least some Cypriot banks will require state support over the medium term as a result of their exposure to Greece.”

Cyprus bonds fell on Wednesday and Italian and Spanish bonds dropped as investors became increasingly concerned whether a package assembled by European leaders to help Greece’s troubled finances and restore confidence in the euro zone would be enough. The yield on Cyprus’s 10-year bond rose 0.13 percentage points to 10.043 percent.

Banks in Cyprus continue to hold “substantial” Greek debt and would be affected in the case of a sovereign debt default, Moody’s said.

Moody’s also said it was concerned about the large role the banking sector plays in the Cypriot economy. Bank assets amount to about 600 percent of gross domestic product in Cyprus, excluding foreign bank subsidiaries, it said.

The July 11 explosion that destroyed the plant and killed 13 people also rattled the government. Costas Papacostas, the defense minister, and Petros Tsalikidis, chief of the national guard, resigned amid criticism about failing to take steps that could have prevented the accident. Some 98 gunpowder containers were left stacked for more than two years in an open field near the power station.

The political friction might make it harder for the center-left government, which does not have an absolute majority in Parliament, to push through spending cuts and privatizations announced on July 1.

“This adverse development increases implementation risk to the government’s plans, many of which will require not just cross-party support but also acceptance by the trade unions,” Moody’s said.

On Tuesday, a number of parties accused the government of backtracking because they feared an angry backlash from Cyprus’s powerful labor unions, Reuters reported from Nicosia.

Cyprus, which adopted the euro on Jan. 1, 2008, is seeking to bring down a budget deficit that hit 5.3 percent of gross domestic product last year.

“The Cypriot banks have been considered safer than the Greek banks and have received a lot of the deposit outflow from Greece,” Panicos Demetriades, a professor at the University of Leicester, said, adding that the banks have large businesses in Russia. “However, the problem is that a small country like Cyprus cannot afford to support such a large banking system, if it gets into trouble.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/28/business/global/moodys-downgrades-cyprus-over-economic-woes.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Moody’s Downgrades Greece Further

Opinion »

The Maze of Moral Relativism

Why rejecting the idea of right and wrong is more difficult than it seems.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/26/business/global/european-sovereign-debt-crisis.html?partner=rss&emc=rss