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穆迪警告可能下调意大利评级

穆迪警告可能下调意大利评级

Colin Barr 2011年06月22日
显然,如今不想听到关于欧洲债务危机的坏消息已是一种奢望,哪怕只是一天。

    上周五穆迪(Moody's)宣布可能下调意大利主权债务评级,原因是欧洲政府债台高筑,“市场信心非常脆弱”。自从今春希腊债务危机爆发以来,这是首次对一家财政状况相对较好的欧洲经济体发出下调评级警告。

    穆迪表示,随着投资者日益回避风险,当前评级Aa2(为第二高评级)的意大利若不提高利率,国债可能就会卖不出去。

    10年期意大利国债最近收益率报4.8%左右,低于近期西班牙国债5.6%的收益率,但比去年秋季的意大利国债收益率已高出整整一个百分点,当时投资者因担心通缩而纷纷购入国债。

    穆迪没有说这些收益率可能会升至多高,但表示债台高筑的经济体其国债收益率可能大幅上升,具体取决于欧洲决策者们如何处理债务危机。

    以当前收益率,意大利国债的市场需求能否持续并不确定。虽然欧元区内未来的政策举措可能会降低投资者担忧,稳定资金成本,但情况也可能截然相反。无论是何种情况,未来投资者都将对欧元区内主权债券区别对待,程度更甚于金融危机爆发前,导致欧元区内债务负担高于平均水平的国家(如意大利)处于不利地位。

    穆迪表示,虽然迄今为止意大利基本上还未沦落到与葡萄牙、爱尔兰等财政状况糟糕的国家相提并论的地步,但意大利的低生产率和僵化的劳动力市场将使其其很难走出目前的债务问题。

    根据国际货币基金组织(International Monetary Fund)估算,年底意大利的政府总负债率或至114%。经济学家肯•罗格夫和卡门•莱因哈特的一份被广泛引述的报告称,负债率超过90%的国家其经济增速往往更缓慢。

    穆迪称,经济增速缓慢可能会使意大利的情况更为复杂,虽然意大利政府是少数实现基本预算盈余的发达国家之一——换言之,不包括利息支付,政府支出少于政府收入。

    虽然利率低企(利率中期可能上升),意大利在全球危机期间损失了近7个百分点的GDP,迄今为止只恢复了一小部分。未来一些年意大利的经济增长前景将是决定政府收入以及财政整合目标能否实现的一个关键因素,

    希腊危机的热度终于开始有所下降,一个更大的债务隐患又似乎即将开锅。看来,今年夏天至少是一个炎热的夏季。

    Moody's said Friday that it may downgrade Italy's debt, thanks to "fragile market sentiment" for deeply indebted European governments. It is the first downgrade warning for one of the stronger European economies since the Greek debt crisis flared up this spring.

    The rating agency said that as investors grow more risk averse, Italy -- currently rated Aa2, the second-highest rating -- may be unable to sell bonds without offering higher interest rates.

    Italian 10-year bonds recently yielded around 4.8%. That is below the 5.6% that Spanish bonds have been trading at lately but up a full point from the Italian rate last fall, when investors were flooding into government bonds amid the latest deflation scare.

    Moody's didn't say how high it thought those rates might go, but it said there is a risk that government bond yields in heavily indebted economies could rise substantially depending on how European policymakers handle the debt crisis.

    The continued stability of market demand for Italy's debt is uncertain at current yields. Although future policy actions within the euro area could reduce investors' concerns and stabilize funding costs, the opposite is also possible. In any event, going forward, investors appear likely to differentiate more among euro area sovereign borrowers than they did prior to the financial crisis, to the disadvantage of euro area countries with higher-than-average debt burdens, like Italy.

    While Italy has so far mostly managed to avoid being dragged into comparisons with weaker states such as Portugal and Ireland, its low productivity and rigid labor markets will make growing out of its debt problem difficult, Moody's said.

    Italy's gross government debt is on track to hit 114% by year-end, the International Monetary Fund estimates. A widely cited paper by economists Ken Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart says countries with a ratio above 90% tend to grow more slowly.

    That slow growth could complicate things for Italy, Moody's said, despite the fact that the Italian government is one of the few in the developed world that is running a primary budget surplus – that is, taking in more money than it spends, excluding interest payments.

    Italy has so far only recovered a fraction of the nearly seven percentage points in GDP that it lost during the global crisis, despite low interest rates, which are likely to rise in the medium term. Growth prospects for the Italian economy in the coming years will be a crucial factor that will determine the government's revenues and the achievement of fiscal consolidation targets.

    So on a day when the Greek crisis finally cools off a few degrees, we learn that a much bigger debt pot may start soon start boiling. It figures to be a hot summer, to say the least.

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