Fitch just cut the long-term issuer ratings of 5 EU countries:
Belgium: AA+ to AA
Spain: AA- to A
Italy: A+ to A-
Cyprus: BBB to BBB-
Slovenia: AA- to A
It affirmed Ireland’s BBB+ rating with a negative outlook.
Borrowing costs have been sinking for these countries lately–particularly for Italy and Spain—after the European Central Bank announced liquidity support measures in early December that have lessened mounting worries about the health of the banking system.
While Fitch says that it supports EU leaders’ actions to address the crisis so far, a lot more has to happen before these countries are out of trouble:
In Fitch’s opinion, the eurozone crisis will only be resolved as and when there is broad economic recovery. It is evident that further substantial reforms of the governance of the eurozone will be required to secure economic and financial stability, including greater fiscal integration.
Overall, today’s rating actions balance the marked deterioration in the economic outlook with both the substantive policy initiatives at the national level to address macro-financial and fiscal imbalances, and the initial success of the ECB’s three-year Long-Term Refinancing Operation in easing near-term sovereign and bank funding pressures. Nonetheless, the intensification of the eurozone crisis in the latter half of last year undermined the effectiveness of ECB monetary policy and highlighted the financing risks faced by eurozone sovereign governments in the absence of a credible financial firewall against contagion and self-fulfilling liquidity crises.