Back in the summer of 2011 during the debt ceiling debacle, S&P did the unthinkable: it dared to speak the truth when it downgraded the US from its pristine AAA rating, setting off a stock market selloff and paradoxically sending bonds to record low yields. This resulted in a vindictive Tim Geithner promptly warning the Chairman of McGraw-Hill the US would retaliate (which it did), the termination of then CEO Devan Sharma (and his replacement with the all too friendly COO of Citibank), and most importantly, a still ongoing legal fight in which the DOJ sued S&P (and only S&P, not Moody’s, not Fitch) allegedly for rating improprieties during the first housing bubble, but even 5 year olds knew it was just to teach S&P a lesson.
Today we learn just what the cost is for anyone who dares to downgrade the US. The answer: $1,000,000,000. That is the amount that S&P has decided it will agree to pay in a settlement with the DOJ to put all this “truthiness” unpleasantness behind it.
Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services decided to settle a pending lawsuit with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and is open to paying about $1 billion to settle it, the Wall Street Journal reported citing people familiar with the matter. Continue reading »
Cyprus and Russia – what’s the difference (aside from the fact that the former was a money laundering offshore center of the latter until last year of course)?
If you said one is a lackey to statist, selfish banker interests, and after having its economy thoroughly destroyed by the great doomed European sociopolitical (and pathological) experiment, came crawling back to its Eurozone masters, while the other couldn’t care one bit about Pax Petrodollariana and the global central bank cabal, you are right. In which case it will also be clear why a few hours ago that joke of a rating agency, Standard & Poor’s, which also earlier announced it was “affirming” France at an AA rating making it very clear it will no longer accept being sued for telling the truth and downgrading sovereigns or otherwise have its offices abroad raided, not only upgraded Cyprus from B- to B (please deposits your funds in Cyprus banks now: they are safe, S&P promises), but – far more importantly – delivered a political message to the Kremlin, and downgraded Russia from BBB to BBB-, one short notch away from junk status. This was the first downgrade of Russia by S&P since December 2008.
S&P, still deep in the mire of a legal battle with the US government, has decided now is an opportune time to cut the ratings outlook on Russia:
*RUSSIAN FEDERATION OUTLOOK TO NEGATIVE FROM STABLE BY S&P
*S&P SEES EU-U.S. IMPOSING FURTHER SANCTIONS
Russia remains a BBB credit (but with the outlook shift remains open to a downgrade with 24 months). S&P has cut 2014 GDP forecast to 1.2% and 2015 to 2.2%. Of course, we are sure, this would have nothing to do with currying favors with the US government (who threatened them when they downgraded the USA). Full report below.
S&P Reduces Russian Federation outlook to Negative from Stable.
Several hours ago, and a day after the latest truce lasted about a few minutes before the the shooting returned and resulted in the bloodiest day of Ukraine’s protests so far, there was hope that the situation in Ukraine may finally be getting resolved, when Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovich announced plans for early elections in a series of concessions to his pro-European opponents. As Reuters reported earlier, Russian-backed Yanukovich, under pressure to quit from mass demonstrations in central Kiev, promised a national unity government and constitutional change to reduce his powers, as well as the presidential polls. He made the announcement in a statement on the presidential website without waiting for a signed agreement with opposition leaders after at least 77 people were killed in the worst violence since Ukraine became independent 22 years ago. This comes in the aftermath of S&P’s announcement overnight that the Ukraine will default in absence of favorable changes.
LOS ANGELES (MarketWatch) — Standard & Poor’s on Friday downgraded its long-term sovereign credit rating on the Netherlands to AA+ from AAA, citing growth concerns. S&P said the country’s growth prospects are weaker than it had previously anticipated. “We do not anticipate that real economic output will surpass 2008 levels before 2017, and believe that the strong contribution of net exports to growth has not been enough to offset a weak domestic economy,” S&P said in a statement. The outlook is stable, reflecting the agency’s view “that risks stemming from low growth and the related fiscal outturn are balanced against strong export performance, a net creditor position, and high GDP per capita.”
Obviously with Buffett a major shareholder of Moody’s, the only place where a downgrade of Berkshire could come from was S&P. Moments ago, the rating agency that dared to downgrade the US for which it is being targeted by Eric Holder’s Department of “Justice”, did just that. Continue reading »
McGraw-Hill Cos. (MHP) and its Standard & Poor’s unit were sued by the U.S. over claims S&P knowingly understated the credit risks of instruments that were central to the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.
The U.S. Justice Department filed a complaint yesterday in federal court in Los Angeles, accusing McGraw-Hill and S&P of mail fraud, wire fraud and financial institutions fraud. Under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989, the U.S. seeks civil penalties of as much as $1.1 million for each violation. The company’s shares tumbled the most in 25 years yesterday when it said it expected the lawsuit, the first federal case against a ratings firm for grades related to the credit crisis.
Standard & Poor’s on Wednesday cut Spain’s sovereign credit rating to BBB-minus, just above junk territory, citing a deepening economic recession that is limiting the government’s policy options to arrest the slide.
The S&P downgrade comes with a negative outlook reflecting the credit ratings agency’s view that there are significant risks to economic growth and budgetary performance, plus a lack of clear direction in euro zone policies.
“In our view, the capacity of Spain’s political institutions (both domestic and multilateral) to deal with the severe challenges posed by the current economic and financial crisis is declining,” S&P said in a statement.
S&P’s two-notch downgrade from BBB-plus brings it in line with Moody’s Investors Service’s Baa3 rating. Moody’s has Spain on review for a possible downgrade.
With government bond markets increasingly manipulated directly via central-bank intervention – and becoming increasingly illiquid – the odd situation we find ourselves in once again is that CDS markets perhaps provide a ‘cleaner’ picture of where credit risk is actually being traded between market participants (hedgers or speculators). To wit, Bloomberg’s ever-insightful Michael McDonough has noticed a significant divergence between market-implied perceptions of risk (CDS) and ratings-agencies perceptions among several nations. Most notably France and Italy (with Belgium close behind) appear considerably ‘over-rated’. Italy’s implied rating is equivalent to BB+ at S&P – well below its average rating of BBB+ and France’s implied rating of A is around four notches below its composite rating. Spain also appears set for more pain as its market price implies a sub-investment grade rating is imminent.
On the bright side – maybe Vietnam is due for an upgrade?
In what S&P calls a ‘Perfect Storm’, the next four years will see a minimum of $30 trillion in companies’ refinancing needs related to maturing bonds and loans and further they expect $13-$16 trillion more debt will be required to finance growth. With bond portfolios over-stuffed with corporate debt (since angst over sovereign risk has skewed asset allocation away from that cohort) the rating agency is concerned that ongoing bank deleveraging, these huge debt re-funding requirements, and the diminishment of central banks and governments to do anything about it leave serious problems with a credit overhang so large. Critically, especially as we hear calls for ‘growth’ plans from Europe, is the increasing likelihood that, as Reuters reports, this will potentially influence corporate credit quality and “alter the fragile equilibrium that currently exists in the global corporate credit landscape”. While S&P expect the refinancing needs may well be met “This global wall of nonfinancial corporate debt will potentially compound the credit rationing that may occur as banks seek to restructure their balance sheets, and bond and equity investors reassess their risk-return thresholds” which “raises the downside risk in global markets” as an inability to finance growth may well be the catalyst for another risk flare. “Governments and central banks have less fiscal and monetary flexibility to prevent serious problems emanating from future market disturbances. A perfect storm scenario would likely cause financing disruptions even for borrowers that are not highly leveraged.”
Of course the size of this massive refinancing wall dwarfs the recent discussion of how much of Europe’s financial system’s equity market cap is nothing but vaporware – since we note that 30% of this $30 trillion is for European financials and corporations.
… but not from us: after all we are known for being biased, which in the mainstream media parlance means calling it like it is. No – instead we leave it to none other than Bloomberg’s Jonathan Weil who does as good a job of being “biased” as we ever could: “Egan-Jones, which has been in business since 1992, could have continued operating as an independent publisher of ratings and analysis, not subject to government oversight or control. Instead it chose to play within the Big Three’s system, exposing itself to regulation and the whims of the SEC in exchange for the government’s imprimatur. Now it’s paying the price.” And not only that: as the most recent example of Spain just shows, where Egan Jones downgraded Spain 9 days ago and was ignored, but well ahead of everyone else, only to be piggybacked by S&P, and the whole world flipping out, it has become clear: calling out reality, and the fools that populate it, is becoming not only a dangerous game, but increasingly more illegal. Then again – this is not the first time we have seen just this happen in broad daylight, with nobody daring to say anything about it. In fact, this phenomenon tends to be a rather traditional side-effect of every declining superpower. Such as the case is right now…
The first time I wrote about Sean Egan and his small, independent credit-research firm, Egan-Jones Ratings Co., was in December 2007 for a column about the bond insurer MBIA Inc. (MBI) And man, did he nail it.
The three big credit raters — Moody’s Investors Service, Standard & Poor’s, and Fitch Ratings — all had AAA ratings on MBIA’s insurance unit, their highest grade. Egan said it deserved much lower. Anyone reading MBIA’s financial reports could see the company was losing money and needed billions of dollars of fresh capital.
By mid-2008, the Big Three had cut their ratings. Once again, Egan, a lonely voice of reason who saw the financial crisis coming, had shown his larger competitors to be incompetent or compromised. It was one of many great calls to come for Egan-Jones. As for MBIA, which had no revenue last quarter, it’s still struggling.
So if you had told me back then that the Securities and Exchange Commission’s enforcement division more than four years later would be accusing Egan, and his firm, of securities-law violations — but not any of the big rating companies — there’s no way I would have believed you. That’s what happened this week, though. Continue reading »
“A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have” - Thomas Jefferson
Something odd and not quite as planned happened as America grew from its “City on a Hill” origins, on its way to becoming the world’s superpower: government grew. A lot. In fact, the government, which by definition does not create any wealth but merely reallocates it based on the whims of a select few, has transformed from a virtually invisible bystander in the economy, to the largest single employer, and a spending behemoth whose annual cash needs alone are nearly $4 trillion a year, and where tax revenues no longer cover even half the outflows. One can debate why this happened until one is blue in the face: the allures of encroaching central planning, the law of large numbers, and the corollary of corruption, inefficiency and greed, cheap credit, the transition to a welfare nanny state as America’s population grew older, sicker and lazier, you name it. The reality is that the reasons for government’s growth do not matter as much as realizing where we are, and deciding what has to be done: will America’s central planners be afforded ever more power to decide the fates of not only America’s population, but that of the world, or will the people reclaim the ideals that the founders of this once great country had when they set off on an experiment, which is now failing with every passing year?
As the following video created by New America Now, using content by Brandon Smith whose work has been featured extensively on the pages of Zero Hedge, notes, “we tend to view government as an inevitability of life, but the fact is government is not a force of nature. It is an imperfect creation of man and it can be dismantled by man just as easily as it can be established.” Unfortunately, the realization that absolute power corrupts absolutely, and absolute central planning leads to epic catastrophes without fail, seems a long way away: most seem content with their lot in life, with lies that their welfare money is safe, even as the future is plundered with greater fury and aggression every passing year, until one day the ability to transfer wealth (benefiting primarily the uber rich, to the detriment of the middle class which is pillaged on an hourly basis), from the future to the present is gone, manifesting in either a failed bond auction or hyperinflation. The timing or shape of the transition itself is irrelevant, what is certain is that America is now on collision course with certain collapse unless something changes. And one of the things that has to change for hope in the great American dream to be restored, is the role, composition and motivations of government, all of which have mutated to far beyond what anyone envisioned back in 1776. Because America is now saddled with a Government Out Of Control.
Watch the two clips below to understand just how and why we have gotten to where we are. Also watch it to, as rhetorically asked by the narrator, prompt us to question whether the government we now have is still useful to us and what kind of powers it should be allowed to wield.
S&P just downgraded 34 of the 37 Italian banks it covers. Below is the full statement. And so get get one second closer to midnight for Europe’s AIG equivalent: A&G. As for S&P, this is the funniest bit: “We classify the Italian government as “supportive” toward its banking sector. We recognize the government’s record of providing support to the banking system in times of stress.” Even rating agencies now have to rely on sovereign risk transfer as the only upside case to their reports. Oh, and who just went balls to the wall Italian stocks? Why the oldest (no pun intended) contrarian indicator in the book – none other than permawrong Notorious (Barton) B.I.G.G.S.
Mainly Negative Rating Actions Taken On 37 Italian Financial Institutions On Sovereign Downgrade And BICRA Change
Time for the dominos to fall where they may: head of sovereign ratings at S&P Kraemer spoke on Bloomberg TV, and said the following:
KRAEMER: GREECE, CREDITORS `RUNNING OUT OF TIME’ IN DEBT TALKS -BBG
KRAEMER: EURO LEADERS HAVEN’T TACKLED CORE UNDERLYING PROBLEMS -BBG
KRAEMER SAYS EUROPE MUST DEAL WITH IMBALANCES, COMPETITIVENESS -BBG
And the punchline:
KRAEMER SAYS HE BELIEVES GREECE WILL DEFAULT SHORTLY – RTRS
The only thing he did not add is that the default will be Coercive. What happens next is anyone’s guess, but whatever it is it is certainly priced in. Also, let’s not forget that the inability of the market to react to any news ever again is most certainly priced in.
And so the latest inevitable outcome of the French downgrade from AAA has arrived, after the S&P just downgraded the EFSF, that pillar of European stability, from AAA to AA+. S&P adds: “if we were to conclude that sufficient offsetting credit enhancements are, in our opinion, not likely to be forthcoming, we would likely change the outlook to negative to mirror the negative outlooks of France and Austria. Under those circumstances we would expect to lower the ratings on the EFSF if we lowered the long-term sovereign credit ratings on the EFSF’s ‘AAA’ or ‘AA+’ rated members to below ‘AA+‘.” In other words, as everyone but Europe apparently knew, the EFSF is only as strong as the rating of its weakest member. And now the rhetoric on how AAA is not really necessary for the EFSF, begins, to be followed by AA, next A, then BBB and finally how as long as the EFSF is not D-rated all is well.
The euro zone’s worst-case scenario of recession and default is looming larger after a mass debt downgrade of France and several other countries, and stalled Greek debt restructuring talks.
Standard & Poor’s stripped France of its prized triple-A rating and slashed the ratings of Italy, Spain and six other European countries Friday, continuing a disturbing pattern of the feared becoming reality in Europe’s smouldering debt crisis.
The move Friday crushed nascent hope that the region’s debt woes might finally be easing after successful bond auctions by Spain and Italy earlier in the week.
The most immediate problem for the euro zone is that France – its second largest economy – will now face significantly higher borrowing costs just as the region slides into recession.
Equally important, the downgrade makes it more expensive for the European Financial Stability Fund to raise cash because France is the fund’s No. 2 backer behind Germany. The EFSF, set up in 2010, is due to raise money in the markets on Tuesday.
All your questions about the historic European downgrade should be answered after reading the following FAQ. Or so S&P believes. Ironically, it does an admirable job, because the following presentation successfully manages to negate years of endless lies and propaganda by Europe’s incompetent and corrupt klepocrarts, and lays out the true terrifying perspective currently splayed out before the eurozone better than most analyses we have seen to date. Namely that the failed experiment is coming to an end. And since the Eurozone’s idiotic foundation was laid out by the same breed of central planning academic wizards who thought that Keynesianism was a great idea (and continue to determine the fate of the world out of their small corner office in the Marriner Eccles building), the imminent downfall of Europe will only precipitate the final unraveling of the shaman “economic” religion that has taken the world to the brink of utter financial collapse and, gradually, world war.
NEW YORK (AP) — Fitch Ratings on Thursday downgraded its viability ratings on eight of the world’s biggest banks, citing increased challenges facing the banking sector due to weak economic growth and heightened regulation.
The firm lowered its viability ratings for Bank of America Corp., Barclays PLC, BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse AG, Deutsche Bank AG, The Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley and Societe Generale.
On the Tuesday, November 29 edition of the Alex Jones Show, Alex talks about moves by the globalists to attack Syria as France trains “rebels” in Turkey and the Russians deny they have dispatched war ships to guard their interests in the Middle Eastern country. Historian and author Webster Tarpley talks with Alex about Syria, Iran and Pakistan.
(MoneyWatch) –Standard & Poor’s ratings service has cut the ratings of the six largest U.S. bank holding companies by one notch. JP Morgan Chase went from A+ to A; Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup were downgraded from A to A-; and Wells Fargo was cut from AA- to A+. Among the eight largest banks, only Boston-based State Street escaped unscathed.
The downgrades were part of more than 37 ratings of large global banks reviewed by the agency. S&P said that it had applied new standards to its methodology that focus on how institutions manage their businesses under market and economic stress. The new standards prompted a downgrade of 15 banks. Downgrades often raise the cost of borrowing for companies, as investors demand a higher interest rate to compensate them for additional risk.
Bank of America now precisely at $5.00 following an after hours downgrade from A to A-. We note that BofA’s CDS widened 10bps today while MER CDS widened 18bps and notably wider (we haven’t seen runs post downgrade) and we wonder how this will impact the firm’s huge derivative book which was recently moved to the Bank’s higher rated, and deposit backed unit for its better rating support. In fact, following such a drastic action, it is quite likely that derivatives units across the board will see counterparties scrambling to demand a far greater cash cushion for fears of the same downgrade waterfalls that took down AIG and MF Global.
Hungary’s sovereign credit grade may be cut to junk this month after Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services placed the country’s lowest investment grade on “CreditWatch with negative implications.”
S&P is likely to make a decision this month on Hungary’s credit grade, currently at BBB-, the rating company said in a statement today. Fitch Ratings yesterday cut the outlook on Hungary’s lowest investment grade to negative from stable, joining S&P and Moody’s Investors Service.
Hungary is now the closest possible to junk grade at Fitch Ratings as the credit rating agency has revised the Outlooks on the country’s Long-term foreign and local currency Issuer Default Ratings (IDR) to Negative from Stable and affirmed the ratings at ‘BBB-’ and ‘BBB’, respectively. Hungary is now a single step away from non-investment status with a negative outlook at all three major rating agencies (Fitch, S&P and Moody’s).
WELLINGTON — Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings both downgraded New Zealand’s sovereign rating, in a move the government said was “ugly” but reflected wider turmoil in world debt markets.
Analysts on Friday said the downgrade made New Zealand only the second Asia Pacific country after Japan to have its rating cut amid the sovereign debt crisis centred on Europe.
Fitch cut New Zealand’s long-term foreign currency rating one notch to “AA” from “AA+” and the long-term local currency rating to “AA+” from “AAA”, with S&P following suit several hours later.
Both Fitch and S&P blamed New Zealand’s soaring external debt, which hit 70 percent of annual gross domestic product (GDP) in June, for the rating cut, with S&P also citing the huge cost of rebuilding earthquake-hit Christchurch.
Standard & Poor’s cut its unsolicited ratings on Italy by one notch on Tuesday, a surprise move that sharply increases strains on the debt-stressed euro zone and piles pressure on policymakers to take more decisive action to resolve the crisis.
Analysts said the downgrade was ominous for the global economy and needed an urgent response. It overshadowed reports that Greece, scrambling to avoid running out of money within weeks, was near a deal to continue receiving bailout funds and that Brazil was willing to pump in $10 billion through the IMF to aid Europe.
“Italy is a much bigger deal than Greece,” said Kathy Lien, director of currency research at GFT in New York.
“It’s a much bigger deal because a lot more countries are exposed to Italian debt than they are Greek debt. The greatest concern was never really about Greece but the contagion over to Italy and to Spain… The uncertainty has really escalated and CDS prices are really going to skyrocket.”