Standard & Poor’s: Upgraded Greece to BB + with stable prospects

The American rating agency Standard & Poor’s upgraded Greece’s credit rating from grade BB to BB +, with a stable outlook, bringing the country just one step from the investment grade.

The upgrade reflects the house’s expectation of a continuous improvement in the effectiveness of Greek policy, while the effects of the war in Ukraine seem manageable in light of significant security reserves in both the private and public sectors.

The agency estimates that higher energy prices and accelerating inflation will help slow GDP growth this year to 3.4% from 8.3% in 2021, with GDP expected to average more than 3%, in the period 2023-2025, thanks to the Recovery Fund and other transfers, and a strong expected further recovery of tourism profits.

Since 2020, governance effectiveness has been boosted through monetary and fiscal policy at the eurozone and EU levels, respectively.

The supportive monetary policy of the European Central Bank (ECB) facilitated access to the market for government borrowing at relatively low cost due to the inclusion of Greek government bonds in the Extra Market Program (PEPP) and as collateral in the repurchase operations of the ECB.

More recently, before the end of the PEPP in March 2022, the ECB clarified that it could continue to buy Greek government bonds beyond repurchases, if it records a deterioration in the transmission of monetary policy in Greece, while the economy is still recovering from the pandemic.

At the same time, the house records a significant improvement in the quality of the assets of systemic banks, as the percentage of non-performing exposures (NPEs) in total loans in the banking sector fell sharply to 12.8% in 2021, from 31% in 2020. S&P estimates it will be below 8% by the end of 2022.

“We believe that all these developments have enhanced the effectiveness of the transmission of monetary policy in Greece,” he said.

Greece’s creditworthiness continues to benefit from the government’s significant fiscal security reserves and the favorable structure of public debt, the House adds.

“We estimate that the current cash reserves are equivalent to three times the borrowing needs for the next two years. “This, together with the low demand for commercial refinancing, will help keep public finances” immune “to rising interest rates worldwide, although raising real interest rates could put downward pressure on public finances, boosting GDP growth.” .

The goal is achievable

The market considered the upgrade of Greece by S&P possible, even certain, considering the Greek goal of gaining an investment grade by 2023 feasible. The early repayment of the debt to the IMF works positively in this direction, while Greece is already starting to repay the bilateral loans of the first memorandum and during the summer it will come out of the regime of enhanced supervision.

The next ratings expected for our country are Fitch on July 8, the double verdict from Moody’s and DBRS on September 16, the third rating of Fitch on October 7 and the last for the year of S&P, as mentioned above, on October 21.

The market considered the upgrade of Greece by S&P possible until certain, considering the Greek goal of gaining an investment grade by 2023 feasible. The early repayment of the debt to the IMF works positively in this direction, while Greece is already beginning to repay the bilateral loans of the first memorandum and the summer will come out of the regime of enhanced supervision.

The next ratings expected for Greece are Fitch on July 8, the double verdict from Moody’s and DBRS on September 16, the third rating of Fitch on October 7 and the last for the year of S&P, as mentioned above, on October 21.

It confirms confidence in the Greek economy

After the current upgrade of Greece’s debt by one notch by Standard & Poor’s (S&P) credit rating agency , Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis stressed, through his Twitter account, that the country is a breath away from the “coveted”, as reported, investment grade.

Specifically, he wrote that “after two years of pandemic and in the middle of war, it confirms the confidence in the Greek economy.

Mr. Mitsotakis also states that “we are a breath of fresh air from the coveted investment level, a seal of credibility that will upgrade the investment and development prospects of our country. We continue steadily with the same seriousness, dedication and hard work for the final straight! ”

Meanwhile, in a statement, the Minister of Finance, Christos Staikouras, welcomes the move of the rating agency, pointing out that it is the third one that places the Greek economy just one “step” before the investment stage.

However, as he notes, “we do not ignore the great challenges, the risks and the new data that are shaping the recent international developments”.

The statement of Finance Minister Christos Staikouras:

“The rating agency” S&P Global Ratings “today proceeded to upgrade the creditworthiness of Greece, by one notch.

This makes it the third rating agency, and the second of those selected by the European Central Bank, which places the country just one “step” before the investment tier.
This is the 9th – in a row – upgrade of the Greek economy in the last two and a half years, despite the successive and repeated crises.

The above positive development is a result – and, at the same time, a culmination – of prudent fiscal policy, prudent bond issuing strategy, high cash flow, the implementation of structural changes, the improvement of the quality of the country’s wealth through increased investment and exports, the reduction the “red” loans in the banks’ portfolios, the reduction of unemployment, the improvement of the competitiveness of the economy.

However, we do not ignore the great challenges, the risks and the new data that are shaping the recent international developments.

That is why we continue to responsibly and prudently support households and businesses to the best of our ability, while remaining true to our central goal of achieving strong and sustainable growth, creating many good jobs and further enhancing social cohesion.”