Economists see France losing AAA in 3 months: Reuters poll

Wed Dec 7, 2011 8:12am EST
 
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By Vicky Buffery and Daniel Flynn

PARIS (Reuters) - France will lose its AAA credit rating early next year regardless of last-ditch efforts by President Nicolas Sarkozy to resolve the euro zone crisis at an EU summit this week, a Reuters poll of economists showed on Wednesday.

The snap survey of 13 economists found that 11 of them think France will be downgraded by one of the major ratings agencies within the next three months.

The only question, following this week's blanket euro zone credit warning by Standard & Poor's, is whether France will be cut by one notch to AA+ or by two to a straight AA.

"If you apply Standard and Poor's methodology based on quantitative factors, France should already have a AA rating, as should the U.S. and Britain," said Jean-Christophe Caffet, economist at investment bank Natixis.

He noted, however, that ratings agencies take into account subjective criteria, such as the credibility of the government's budget plans, making it difficult to estimate the final outcome.

"Only the ratings agencies guys know that," he said.

Worries over France's credit rating have been mounting for weeks as the euro zone sovereign debt crisis has unfurled, spreading from Greece to Portugal and Spain, and even reaching the third-largest economy in the bloc, Italy.

Late on Monday, S&P warned it could carry out a mass rating downgrade of 15 euro zone nations within 90 days, depending largely on the outcome of Friday's EU summit to discuss tightening governance in the single currency bloc.   Continued...