10Y French-German Yield Spread Spikes After S&P Places AAA Eurozone Countries On CreditWatch

10-year French-German Bond Yield Spread (Bloomberg.com)
As noted yesterday, S&P placed AAA countries in the eurozone on "CreditWatch with negative implications". The list includes the largest contributors to the EFSF, Germany at 29.07% and France at 21.83% (efsf.europa.eu - pdf). S&P is going to review what happens at the EU summit on December 8-9 (Thursday-Friday), and then decide if they should downgrade Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, and Luxembourg by up to one notch, and France by up to two notches.

According to Reuters, France "has the highest debt and deficit levels of the six AAA-rated euro zone members". Read S&P's report on France here. In the press release below, S&P explained five interrelated factors causing "systemic stresses" in the eurozone. I provided a chart of the 10-year French-German bond yield spread, which is up 7.44% at 1.00 right now.

Articles related to the downgrade: We've Just Witnessed A Major Turning Point In The Euro Crisis (BI); France: S&P warning serious but no austerity needed (Reuters); France says has more to do than others to keep its AAA (Reuters); EFSF Bailout Bonds Drop After S&P Cuts Euro-Nation Debt Outlooks (Bloomberg).

Standard & Poor's Puts Ratings On Eurozone Sovereigns On CreditWatch With Negative Implications
"FRANKFURT (Standard & Poor's) Dec. 5, 2011--Standard & Poor's Ratings Services today placed its long-term sovereign ratings on 15 members of the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU or eurozone) on CreditWatch with negative implications.

We have also maintained the CreditWatch negative status of our long-term rating on Cyprus and placed its short-term ratings on CreditWatch with negative implications. The ratings on Greece have not been placed on CreditWatch. The ratings on the eurozone sovereigns are listed below.

Today's CreditWatch placements are prompted by our belief that systemic stresses in the eurozone have risen in recent weeks to the extent that they now put downward pressure on the credit standing of the eurozone as a whole.

We believe that these systemic stresses stem from five interrelated factors:

(1) Tightening credit conditions across the eurozone;

(2) Markedly higher risk premiums on a growing number of eurozone sovereigns, including some that are currently rated 'AAA';

(3) Continuing disagreements among European policy makers on how to tackle the immediate market confidence crisis and, longer term, how to ensure greater economic, financial, and fiscal convergence among eurozone members;

(4) High levels of government and household indebtedness across a large area of the eurozone; and

(5) The rising risk of economic recession in the eurozone as a whole in 2012. Currently, we expect output to decline next year in countries such as Spain, Portugal and Greece, but we now assign a 40% probability of a fall in output for the eurozone as a whole.


Our CreditWatch review of eurozone sovereign ratings will focus on three of the five key factors that form the core of our sovereign ratings methodology: the "political," "external," and "monetary" scores we assign to the governments in the eurozone (see "Sovereign Government Rating Methodology And Assumptions", published June 30, 2011). Our analysis of "political dynamics" will focus on both country-specific and eurozone-wide issues that appear to us to be limiting the effectiveness of efforts to resolve the market confidence crisis. Our analysis of "external liquidity" will focus on the borrowing requirements of both eurozone governments and banks. Our analysis of "monetary flexibility" will focus on ECB policy settings to address the economic and financial stresses the countries in the eurozone are increasingly facing.

We expect to conclude our review of eurozone sovereign ratings as soon as possible following the EU summit scheduled for Dec. 8 and 9, 2011. Depending on the score changes, if any, that our rating committees agree are appropriate for each sovereign, we believe 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.

Our ratings on Greece (Hellenic Republic; CC/Negative/C) are not affected by today's actions, as a 'CC' rating under our rating definitions connotes our belief that there is a relatively high near-term probability of default.

We are publishing separate media releases with the rationale for each rating action on the 16 CreditWatch actions. We are also publishing the following article: "Credit FAQ: Factors Behind Our Placement of Eurozone Governments on CreditWatch".

Following today's CreditWatch listings, Standard & Poor's will issue separate media releases concerning affected ratings on the funds, government-related entities, financial institutions, insurance companies, public finance, and structured finance sectors in due course."

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