The 2012/01/16 at 11:43
The agency has downgraded five countries by one notch: France, Austria, Malta, Slovakia and Slovenia; four States have gone down by two notches: Spain, Italy, Portugal, Cyprus. And fourteen countries, including France, face a “negative outlook”; in other words, they have more than one chance out of three of being further downgraded in the next two years. S&P’s decision confirms the existence of a four-speed Eurozone. First come the elite scoring top marks, the AAA: Germany, Finland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Next, the solid States that no longer offer maximum security: France (AA+), Belgium (AA), Austria (AA+) and Estonia (AA-). Then come States that are struggling but remain in middle ground: Slovenia (A+), Spain (A), Slovakia (A), Ireland (BBB+), Malta (A-) and Italy (BBB+). Finally comes the bottom of the class, the “junk bond” category: Portugal (BB), Cyprus (BB+) and Greece (C). The agency considers initiatives undertaken in Europe to resolve systemic tensions to be inadequate. It is concerned about the economic consequences of austerity policies being followed, and demands that European decision-makers finally cease their open conflict in order to bring persuasive responses to the crisis.