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COMMENTS

An Overview Of Sovereign Rating Actions Related To COVID-19


An Overview Of Sovereign Rating Actions Related To COVID-19

As world economies have gone into lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic, S&P Global Ratings has been monitoring the pandemic's impact on its sovereign ratings. Since March 10, we've reviewed over two-thirds of the sovereigns we rate (see chart 1). Out of the 90 sovereigns reviewed by May 11, 2020, 51 sovereigns were from EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa), where, in some instances, we deviated from our previously published calendar (see "Calendar Of 2020 EMEA Sovereign, Regional, And Local Government Rating Publication Dates"). In the Americas, we reviewed 29 ratings, including on the U.S. (AA+/Stable/A-1+), and in Asia-Pacific, we reviewed 10.

Of the sovereigns we've reviewed, we downgraded over one-fifth--and five of those ratings currently have negative outlooks--and we revised the outlooks on 15% of the reviewed sovereigns to negative from stable. Although we forecast that the majority of sovereigns we rate will face economic contractions, widening fiscal deficits, and rising government debt stocks, we affirmed ratings on more than half of the sovereigns reviewed.

Chart 1

image

We continue to monitor the economic and financial fallout from COVID-19 and will review our sovereign ratings where necessary, including through potential deviations from our EMEA publication calendar.

Table 1

Reviewed Sovereigns
--EMEA--
Europe

Andorra

Czech Republic

Luxembourg

Serbia

Austria

France

Malta

Spain

Azerbaijan

Germany

Montenegro

Turkey

Belarus

Greece

Norway

Ukraine

Belgium

Hungary

Poland

U.K.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Italy

Portugal

Croatia

Kazakhstan

Russia

Middle East

Abu Dhabi

Kuwait

Ras Al Khaimah

Bahrain

Lebanon

Saudi Arabia

Iraq

Oman

Sharjah

Jordan

Qatar

Africa

Angola

Ethiopia

Nigeria

Botswana

Ghana

South Africa

Cameroon

Kenya

St. Helena

Congo-Brazzaville

Morocco

Togo

Egypt

Mozambique

--Americas--
Latin America

Argentina

Chile

Paraguay

Bolivia

Colombia

Peru

Brazil

Mexico

Uruguay

Caribbean

Aruba

Curacao

Suriname

Bahamas

Dominican Republic

Trinidad and Tobago

Barbados

Jamaica

Turks and Caicos

Bermuda

Montserrat

Central/North America

Belize

El Salvador

Nicaragua

Costa Rica

Guatemala

Panama

Ecuador

Honduras

U.S.

--Asia-Pacific--

Australia

Malaysia

Taiwan

Indonesia

New Zealand

Thailand

Japan

Papua New Guinea

Korea

Singapore

Source: S&P Global Ratings.

Our Global Macroeconomic Baseline Scenario Informs Our Rating Actions

We forecast a significant contraction of economic activity around the world (see "COVID-19 Deals A Larger, Longer Hit To Global GDP"), with real GDP globally declining by 2.4% in 2020. We then expect global growth to rebound to 5.9% in 2021.

S&P Global Ratings acknowledges a high degree of uncertainty about the rate of spread and peak of the coronavirus outbreak. Some government authorities estimate the pandemic will peak about midyear, and we are using this assumption in assessing the economic and credit implications.

Chart 2

image

Governments around the world have been swift in their fiscal response to the pandemic. On average, we expect the sovereigns we rate to run deficits to the tune of 6.3%. While this number may get revised higher as lockdown measures are extended and governments try to cushion the economic and financial impact on households and businesses, we mostly view this increase in general government deficits as transitory. To the extent that an economic recovery takes hold in the second half this year and firms over 2021, we expect government deficits will more than halve to around 3% on average. (For more, see our Sovereign Risk Indicators: https://www.spratings.com/sri/.)

Negative Rating Actions Were Primarily On Sovereigns With Weaker Fundamentals

The majority of negative rating actions affected speculative-grade sovereigns, with the average rating of downgraded sovereigns at 'BB-'. In addition, there were three selective defaults: Lebanon, Ecuador, and Argentina. In all three instance, the ratings were already in the 'CC'/'CCC' range prior to the defaults.

We see the impact of the crisis as quite severe and, for many sovereigns, will have long-lasting effects. However, we also think, in cases where we affirmed ratings, that the defense mechanisms the sovereigns put in place will help them--at least in the short term--to contain the destruction of their economic base by keeping workers tied to their employers and businesses afloat, which should aid the recovery once economies reopen.

Over the medium to long term, we could see negative rating pressure build up, even for some of the ratings we affirmed, if we see the effects of the pandemic becoming structural and likely to have longer-term negative implications that would make recovery of fiscal profiles slower than expected.

The majority of our rating actions have been on emerging market sovereigns. We see distinct differences among the sovereigns in this group, as well as important vulnerabilities for some. Emerging market sovereigns have implemented stimulus to support their economies, but the reach and effectiveness are more limited than those implemented by developed economies.

In some cases, particularly in Latin America and Africa, the economic and fiscal outlook prior to COVID-19 was already quite weak. For some of these economies, the erosion of credit quality stemming from the effects of the pandemic will be structural and long lasting. That said, as the world comes out of the pandemic and investors start looking for opportunities to get better yields, emerging markets are likely to see an increase in flows returning to the asset class, which will help the financing requirements of these sovereigns.

Chart 3

image

Table 2

Downgrades
From From To
Angola B- CCC+
Argentina CCC- SD
Bahamas BB+ BB
Belize B- CCC
Bolivia BB- B+
Botswana A- BBB+
Cameroon B B-
Curacao BBB+ BBB
Ecuador B- CCC- SD
Kuwait AA AA-
Lebanon CC SD
Mexico BBB+ BBB
Nigeria B B-
Oman BB BB-
Papua New Guinea B B-
Suriname B CCC+
South Africa BB BB-
Trinidad and Tobago BBB BBB-
Names in bold indicate a negative outlook on the current rating. Source: S&P Global Ratings.

Negative Outlook Balance Means More Downgrades Might Be Coming

The outlook balance--the difference between positive and negative outlooks--turned negative again in April 2020 (see chart 4). With a total negative outlook count of 25, versus six sovereigns with positive outlooks, we think more negative rating actions are likely. That said, the majority of sovereign ratings, 104 at the moment, carry stable outlooks, indicating that currently we do not expect those ratings will change over the next one to two years.

Chart 4

image

Geographically, the outlook balance is most negative in the Americas, where we no longer have any positive outlooks (see chart 5). In EMEA, the outlook balance also turned sharply negative following the outbreak of the pandemic.

Chart 5

image

Table 3

Rating Actions List
Sovereign Region Date of publication Affirmed/rating change/outlook revision Old rating Old outlook New rating New outlook Rating action

Curacao

Americas 3/10/2020 Foreign and local currency long-term ratings lowered to 'BBB/Negative' from 'BBB+/Stable'; 'A-2' foreign and local currency short-term ratings affirmed BBB+ Stable BBB Negative Downgrade

Lebanon

EMEA 3/11/2020 Foreign currency ratings lowered to 'SD' from 'CC/Negative/C'; local currency 'CC/Negative/C' long- and short term ratings affirmed CC Negative SD Downgrade

Bahamas

Americas 3/12/2020 Outlook revised to negative; 'BB+' ratings affirmed BB+ Stable BB+ Negative Outlook revision to negative

Malta

EMEA 3/13/2020 Outlook revised to stable on worsening external environment and macro stability risks; 'A-/A-2' ratings affirmed A- Positive A- Stable Outlook revision to stable from positive

Ukraine

EMEA 3/13/2020 Ratings affirmed; outlook stable (full analysis) B Stable B Stable Affirmation

Austria

EMEA 3/13/2020 Ratings affirmed; outlook stable (full analysis) AA+ Stable AA+ Stable Affirmation

Ghana

EMEA 3/13/2020 Ratings affirmed; outlook stable (full analysis) B Stable B Stable Affirmation

Jordan

EMEA 3/13/2020 Ratings affirmed; outlook stable (full analysis) B+ Stable B+ Stable Affirmation

Kenya

EMEA 3/13/2020 Ratings affirmed; outlook stable (full analysis) B+ Stable B+ Stable Affirmation

Luxembourg

EMEA 3/13/2020 Ratings affirmed; outlook stable (full analysis) AAA Stable AAA Stable Affirmation

Norway

EMEA 3/13/2020 Ratings affirmed; outlook stable (full analysis) AAA Stable AAA Stable Affirmation

Portugal

EMEA 3/13/2020 Ratings affirmed; outlook stable outlook (full analysis) BBB Positive BBB Positive Affirmation

Belgium

EMEA 3/20/2020 'AA/A-1+' ratings affirmed; outlook stable AA Stable AA Stable Affirmation

Croatia

EMEA 3/20/2020 Ratings affirmed; outlook stable (full analysis) BBB- Stable BBB- Stable Affirmation

Spain

EMEA 3/20/2020 Ratings affirmed; outlook stable (full analysis) A Stable A Stable Affirmation

Ecuador

Americas 3/25/2020 Foreign and local currency long- and short-term ratings lowered to 'CCC-/Watch Neg/C' from 'B-/Stable/B' B- Stable CCC- Watch Neg Downgrade

Bahrain

EMEA 3/26/2020 Outlook revised to stable, 'B+' ratings affirmed B+ Positive B+ Stable Outlook revision to stable from positive

Colombia

Americas 3/26/2020 Outlook revised to negative, 'BBB-' ratings affirmed BBB- Stable BBB- Negative Outlook revision to negative

Costa Rica

Americas 3/26/2020 'B+' sovereign ratings affirmed; outlook remains negative B+ Negative B+ Negative Affirmation

Kuwait

EMEA 3/26/2020 Foreign and local currency long-term ratings lowered to 'AA-/Stable' from 'AA/Stable'; 'A-1+' foreign and local currency short-term ratings affirmed AA Stable AA- Stable Downgrade

Malaysia

APAC 3/26/2020 'A-/A-2' foreign currency and 'A/A-1' local currency ratings affirmed; outlook stable A- Stable A- Stable Affirmation

Iraq

EMEA 3/26/2020 Affirmed at 'B-/B'; outlook stable B- Stable B- Stable Affirmation

Mexico

Americas 3/26/2020 Foreign and local currency long-term ratings lowered to 'BBB/Negative' and 'BBB+/Negative' respectively from 'BBB+/Negative' and 'A-/Negative'; 'A-2' foreign and local currency short-term ratings affirmed BBB+ Negative BBB Negative Downgrade

Nigeria

EMEA 3/26/2020 Foreign and local currency long-term ratings lowered to 'B-/Stable' from 'B/Negative'; 'B' foreign and local currency short-term ratings affirmed B Negative B- Stable Downgrade

Oman

EMEA 3/26/2020 Foreign and local currency long-term ratings lowered to 'BB-/Negative' from 'BB/Negative'; 'B' foreign and local currency short-term ratings affirmed BB Negative BB- Negative Downgrade

Abu Dhabi

EMEA 3/26/2020 Ratings affirmed at 'AA/A-1+'; outlook stable AA Stable AA Stable Affirmation

Qatar

EMEA 3/26/2020 'AA-/A-1+' ratings affirmed; outlook stable AA- Stable AA- Stable Affirmation

Trinidad and Tobago

Americas 3/26/2020 Foreign and local currency long- and short-term ratings lowered to 'BBB-/Stable/A-3' from 'BBB/Stable/A-2' BBB Stable BBB- Stable Downgrade

Angola

EMEA 3/27/2020 Foreign and local currency long- and short-term ratings lowered to 'CCC+/Stable/C' from 'B-/Negative/B' B- Negative CCC+ Stable Downgrade

Botswana

EMEA 3/27/2020 Foreign and local currency long-term ratings lowered to 'BBB+/Stable' from 'A-/Stable'; 'A-2' foreign and local currency short-term ratings affirmed A- Stable BBB+ Stable Downgrade

Saudi Arabia

EMEA 3/26/2020 'A-/A-2' ratings affirmed; outlook stable A- Stable A- Stable Affirmation

Azerbaijan

EMEA 3/26/2020 'BB+/B' ratings affirmed; outlook stable BB+ Stable BB+ Stable Affirmation

Russia

EMEA 3/26/2020 'BBB-/A-3' foreign currency and 'BBB/A-2' local currency ratings affirmed; outlook stable BBB- Stable BBB- Stable Affirmation

Kazakhstan

EMEA 3/26/2020 'BBB-/A-3' ratings affirmed; outlook stable BBB- Stable BBB- Stable Affirmation

Suriname

Americas 4/1/2020 Ratings lowered to 'CCC+'; outlook negative B Stable CCC+ Negative Downgrade

United States

Americas 4/2/2020 'AA+/A-1+' sovereign ratings affirmed; outlook remains stable AA+ Stable AA+ Stable Affirmation

Belarus

EMEA 4/3/2020 Ratings affirmed at 'B/B'; outlook stable B Stable B Stable Affirmation

France

EMEA 4/3/2020 'AA/A-1+' ratings affirmed; outlook stable AA Stable AA Stable Affirmation

Germany

EMEA 4/3/2020 'AAA/A-1+' ratings affirmed; outlook stable AAA Stable AAA Stable Affirmation

Japan

APAC 4/3/2020 Ratings affirmed at 'A+/A-1'; outlook remains positive A+ Positive A+ Positive Affirmation

Morocco

EMEA 4/3/2020 'BBB-/A-3' ratings affirmed; outlook stable BBB- Stable BBB- Stable Affirmation

St Helena

EMEA 4/3/2020 'BBB-/A-3' ratings affirmed; outlook stable BBB- Stable BBB- Stable Affirmation

Brazil

Americas 4/6/2020 'BB-/B' ratings affirmed; outlook revised to stable BB- Positive BB- Stable Outlook revision to stable from positive

Argentina

Americas 4/7/2020 Foreign currency ratings lowered to 'SD' CCC- Negative SD Downgrade

Australia

APAC 4/7/2020 'AAA/A-1+' ratings affirmed; outlook revised to negative AAA Stable AAA Negative Outlook revision to negative

Congo-Brazzaville

EMEA 4/8/2020 'B-/B' ratings affirmed; outlook revised to negative B- Stable B- Negative Outlook revision to negative

Cameroon

EMEA 4/10/2020 Downgraded to 'B-' from 'B'; outlook stable B Negative B- Stable Downgrade

Ethiopia

EMEA 4/10/2020 'B/B' ratings affirmed; outlook revised to negative B Stable B Negative Outlook revision to negative

Poland

EMEA 4/10/2020 'A-/A-2' ratings affirmed; outlook stable A- Stable A- Stable Affirmation

Thailand

APAC 4/13/2020 'BBB+/A-2' ratings affirmed; outlook revised to stable BBB+ Positive BBB+ Stable Outlook revision to stable from positive

Ecuador

Americas 4/14/2020 Ratings lowered to 'SD/SD' on expectation of missed interest payment and distressed exchange CCC- Watch Neg SD Downgrade

Jamaica

Americas 4/16/2020 Outlook revised to negative from stable on pandemic impact; ratings affirmed B+ Stable B+ Negative Outlook revision to negative

Bermuda

Americas 4/16/2020 Outlook revised to stable from positive on slower economic growth, weaker debt position; 'A+' ratings affirmed A+ Positive A+ Stable Outlook revision to stable from positive

Bahamas

Americas 4/16/2020 Ratings lowered to 'BB' from 'BB+' on fallout from COVID-19 pandemic; outlook negative BB+ Negative BB Negative Downgrade

Aruba

Americas 4/16/2020 Outlook revised to negative from stable on tourism slowdown; 'BBB+/A-2' sovereign credit ratings affirmed BBB+ Stable BBB+ Negative Outlook revision to negative

Dominican Republic

Americas 4/16/2020 Outlook revised to negative on increased external and debt risks; 'BB-/B' ratings affirmed BB- Stable BB- Negative Outlook revision to negative

Curacao

Americas 4/16/2020 Ratings affirmed at 'BBB/A-2'; outlook remains negative on economic risks BBB Negative BBB Negative Affirmation

Barbados

Americas 4/16/2020 Ratings affirmed at 'B-/B'; outlook stable B- Stable B- Stable Affirmation

Turks and Caicos

Americas 4/16/2020 Ratings affirmed at 'BBB+/A-2'; outlook remains stable BBB+ Stable BBB+ Stable Affirmation

Montserrat

Americas 4/16/2020 'BBB-' ratings affirmed; outlook stable BBB- Stable BBB- Stable Affirmation

Belize

Americas 4/16/2020 Ratings lowered to 'CCC/C' on heightened liquidity risks related to COVID-19; outlook is negative B- Stable CCC Negative Downgrade

Guatemala

Americas 4/17/2020 'BB-' ratings affirmed; outlook remains stable BB- Stable BB- Stable Affirmation

Indonesia

APAC 4/17/2020 Outlook revised to negative as COVID-19 hits fiscal, external metrics; 'BBB/A-2' ratings affirmed BBB Stable BBB Negative Outlook revision to negative

Egypt

EMEA 4/17/2020 'B' ratings affirmed; outlook stable B Stable B Stable Affirmation

Bolivia

Americas 4/17/2020 Ratings lowered to 'B+' on weaker external position; outlook stable BB- Negative B+ Stable Downgrade

Nicaragua

Americas 4/21/2020 'B-' ratings affirmed; outlook remains stable B- Stable B- Stable Affirmation

Korea

APAC 4/21/2020 'AA' ratings affirmed; outlook remains stable AA Stable AA Stable Affirmation

Ecuador

Americas 4/21/2020 'SD/SD' ratings affirmed after distressed exchange; ratings on several global bonds lowered to 'D' from 'CC' SD SD Affirmation

El Salvador

Americas 4/21/2020 'B-' ratings affirmed; outlook remains stable B- Stable B- Stable Affirmation

Italy

EMEA 4/24/2020 'BBB' ratings affirmed; outlook remains negative BBB Negative BBB Negative Affirmation

Andorra

EMEA 4/24/2020 Outlook revised to stable from positive as COVID-19 causes deficits to spike; 'BBB/A-2' ratings affirmed BBB Positive BBB Stable Outlook revision to stable from positive

Mozambique

EMEA 4/24/2020 'CCC+' ratings affirmed; outlook stable CCC+ Stable CCC+ Stable Affirmation

Greece

EMEA 4/24/2020 Outlook revised to stable on adverse effects of COVID-19; 'BB-/B' ratings affirmed BB- Positive BB- Stable Outlook revision to stable from positive

Ras Al Khaimah

EMEA 4/24/2020 Outlook revised to negative on increasing macroeconomic risks; 'A/A-1' ratings affirmed A Stable A Negative Outlook revision to negative

Portugal

EMEA 4/24/2020 Outlook to stable; 'BBB/A-2' ratings affirmed BBB Positive BBB Stable Outlook revision to stable from positive

Sharjah

EMEA 4/24/2020 Outlook revised to negative on increasing macroeconomic risks; 'BBB/A-2' ratings affirmed BBB Stable BBB Negative Outlook revision to negative

Togo

EMEA 4/24/2020 'B' ratings affirmed; outlook stable B Stable B Stable Affirmation

United Kingdom

EMEA 4/24/2020 'AA' ratings affirmed; outlook stable AA Stable AA Stable Affirmation

Panama

Americas 4/25/2020 Outlook revised to negative on risk of weaker fiscal and economic trajectories; 'BBB+/A-2' ratings affirmed BBB+ Stable BBB+ Negative Outlook revision to negative

Chile

Americas 4/27/2020 Outlook revised to negative on risks to growth prospects; 'A+/A-1' foreign currency ratings affirmed A+ Stable A+ Negative Outlook revision to negative

Singapore

APAC 4/28/2020 'AAA' ratings affirmed; outlook stable AAA Stable AAA Stable Affirmation

Hungary

EMEA 4/28/2020 Outlook revised to stable from positive on COVID-19-related risks; 'BBB/A-2' ratings affirmed BBB Positive BBB Stable Outlook revision to stable from positive

Papua New Guinea

APAC 4/29/2020 Ratings lowered to 'B-/B' as COVID-19 pressures metrics; outlook stable B Stable B- Stable Downgrade

Taiwan

APAC 4/29/2020 Ratings affirmed at 'AA-/A-1+'; outlook stable AA- Stable AA- Stable Affirmation

South Africa

EMEA 4/29/2020 Ratings lowered to 'BB-' from 'BB' as COVID-19 further impairs fiscal and growth prospects; outlook stable BB Negative BB- Stable Downgrade

Ghana

EMEA 4/30/2020 Outlook revised to negative on rising fiscal and external pressures; 'B/B' ratings affirmed B Stable B Negative Outlook revision to negative

Bosnia and Herzegovina

EMEA 4/30/2020 Outlook revised to stable on economic fallout of COVID-19 pandemic; 'B' ratings affirmed B Positive B Stable Outlook revision to stable from positive

Uruguay

Americas 5/1/2020 'BBB' ratings affirmed; outlook remains stable BBB Stable BBB Stable Affirmation

Serbia

EMEA 5/1/2020 Outlook revised to stable from positive on economic fallout related to COVID-19; 'BB+/B' ratings affirmed BB+ Positive BB+ Stable Outlook revision to stable from positive

Montenegro

EMEA 5/1/2020 Outlook revised to negative on rising economic and fiscal risks from COVID-19 pandemic; affirmed at 'B+/B' B+ Stable B+ Negative Outlook revision to negative

Czech Republic

EMEA 5/1/2020 'AA-' ratings affirmed; outlook stable AA- Stable AA- Stable Affirmation

New Zealand

APAC 5/4/2020 'AA/A-1+' foreign currency and 'AA+/A-1+' local currency ratings affirmed; outlook positive AA Positive AA Positive Affirmation

Peru

Americas 5/4/2020 'BBB+/A-2' foreign currency ratings affirmed; outlook remains stable BBB+ Stable BBB+ Stable Affirmation

Paraguay

Americas 5/6/2020 'BB/B' ratings affirmed; outlook remains stable BB Stable BB Stable Affirmation

Honduras

Americas 5/6/2020 'BB-/B' ratings affirmed; outlook remains stable BB- Stable BB- Stable Affirmation

Turkey

EMEA 5/6/2020 'B+/B' foreign currency and 'BB-/B' local currency ratings affirmed; outlook stable B+ Stable B+ Stable Affirmation

Qatar

EMEA 5/8/2020 'AA-/A-1+' ratings affirmed; outlook stable AA- Stable AA- Stable Affirmation

This report does not constitute a rating action.

Primary Credit Analysts:Felix Winnekens, New York + 1 (212) 438 0313;
felix.winnekens@spglobal.com
Roberto H Sifon-arevalo, New York (1) 212-438-7358;
roberto.sifon-arevalo@spglobal.com

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