Storia dell'articolo

Questo articolo è stato pubblicato il 22 gennaio 2013 alle ore 11:46.


Q: What is your rating of Italy?

A: I stick to the A3 that I signed in February 2012 to adjust ratings in Europe to existing potential risks. I defended this view several times within Moody's and in front of investors. I insisted to continue to consider relatively solid ratios of medium to long term debt sustainability as calculated by the IMF: the primary surplus of the government budget, as well as the total public and private debt level or the long term pension system outlook compare favourably internationally, and some of the long term fiscal adjustment needs are substantially less than in the US or in Japan. In Italy there does not seem to be the risk of a „fiscal cliff". I fear that in the shadow of the European debt crisis some of those Italian advantages have been overlooked.

Q: Italy has paid a high price in terms of rating also for the market's loss of confidence into the functioning of the monetary

A:Well, also European affairs can be discussed in a very controversial way among analysts. I can immagine that for those who do not live in continental Europe it may be even more difficult to understand the sequence of actions of EU politicians to get a grip on the crisis. However, the history of European integration tells us that it is naive to expect a big bang to resolve a crisis in Europe, but a crisis has often been at the heart of further European step-by-step integration. Those who expect a big bang for the solution of the crisis tend to be overly pessimistic on Europe, and sometimes do not even see remaining options. Let us take the example of the ECB. I have long insisted that the ECB has the institutional power and the instruments to become a game changer if necessary. This is an option to be taken into account in a risk analysis! The initial focus of the European crisis management on the prevention of moral hazard and the strict conditionality of financial support is not to be confounded with a lack of determination to do whatever is necessary at a certain point in time. Today we know that the ECB is ready to defend the euro (and its own institutional existence), and to act as a liquidity bridge under the condition that governments do their homework. The Italian case shows how efficient this arrangement has worked to reinstall market confidence.

Q: Europe has lost confidence into the rating agencies. This is represented in a new regulation that seems to be pretty severe.

A: Regulation brings along more standardization of the analytical process, probably at the expense of the analytical diversity and depth. But what is really frustrating is the fact that the European legislator saw the need to push for a severe regulation that will substantially reduce the agencies liberty to act. There is no point to make a final judgement here. However, it seems something went terribly wrong with (country) ratings or with their perception by the public. In any case, it seems there are a lot of alternative sources of information and analysis out there to make up your mind on country risk.