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Waiting for Fitch to start off this year's ratings race for Greek economy

Featured Waiting for Fitch to start off this year's ratings race for Greek economy

The eyes of the government financial staff are focused on Greece's meeting with the Fitch rating agency today. Some analysts are not ruling out an upgrade to 'BB+', although the odds are leaning towards the ratings agency waiting until national elections, which are scheduled to be held by July. The government has set a target for the upgrade within 2023 and analysts' expectations put the time frame after the summer as the target. The main reason is the increased likelihood of consecutive elections due to the change in the electoral system, which increases electoral uncertainty and scenarios for a third round at the polls.

In the 2009 crisis, Greece was downgraded to "junk" and the rating agencies took the country out of the markets and rendered it unable to borrow. From then until today, despite Greece's exit from the Memorandum, Greek bonds have not managed to reach their pre-crisis ratings. Since 2019, Greece has been upgraded 11 times.

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Fitch has rated Greece to BB since 2020. It is two notches below investment grade, while last October it upgraded the country's outlook from stable to positive. This move has fueled expectations that it may signal a possible upgrade in 2023. The strictest ratings agency is Moody's, which is still set in November 2020 and on the double, then, upgrade to the Ba3 scale, three notches below  investment grade. Since then, it has postponed the assessment four times. It is noted that Standard & Poor's upgraded Greece by one notch to "BB+" with a stable outlook (one step before investment grade).

International analysts do not rule out the possibility of achieving investment grade before the elections. The key date is April 21st, when it will be S&P's turn. Because the Greek economy is one step away (from the investment stage) in terms of the S&P and DBRS scales. For Fitch it is two notches and for Moody's it is three away. That is, the overall rating is one notch below the minimum investment grade of BBB-.