Credit Rating Downgrade: The Economic Red Flag

This morning, Standard and Poors downgraded the sovereign debt rating of Spain from AAA to AA+. With Greece’s rating downgraded last week and Ireland and Portugal on credit watch negative, this could be the beginning of more downgrades.

Therefore it is important to consider what it means for a country to have their credit rating downgraded:

To have your credit rating downgraded means higher costs of borrowing. The Euro is slipping as we are seeing an exodus out of Spanish bonds because some global funds are mandated to invest only in AAA debt. A credit rating reflects the risk of default. Therefore a lower credit rating means that a country is at greater risk of defaulting on their debt.

On a local level, we expect investors to shift their money out of Spanish debt and into countries with a higher credit rating such as Germany or even outside of the Eurozone. Spanish Bond prices have dropped significantly since the beginning of the year, driving yields higher. The gap between the interest rates on German and Spanish bonds have hit the highest level in 10 years, reflecting the sharp divergence in economic performance. Talk of Spain leaving the Eurozone is irrelevant because their cost of borrowing would skyrocket if they chose to do so. I think that there is a greater chance the countries being downgraded will be kicked out of the Eurozone.

Spain-German Rates

About Kathy Lien 235 Articles

Kathy Lien is an Internationally Published Author and Chief Strategist of, one of the world’s most popular online websites for currency research. Her trading books include the highly acclaimed, Day Trading the Currency Market: Technical and Fundamental Strategies to Profit form Market Swings (2005, Wiley); High Probability Trading Setups for the Currency Market E-Book (2006, Investopedia); and Millionaire Traders: How Everyday People Are Beating Wall Street at Its Own Game (2007, Wiley). As Chief Currency Strategist at FXCM, Kathy is responsible for providing research and analysis for DailyFX, the research arm of FXCM. She also co-edits the BK Forex Advisor, an Premium Service with Boris Schlossberg – one of the few investment advisory letters focusing strictly on the 2 Trillion/day FX market.

Kathy is also one of the authors of Investopedia’s Forex Education section and has written for, the Asia Times Online, Stocks & Commodities Magazine, MarketWatch, ActiveTrader Magazine, Currency Trader, Futures Magazine and SFO. She is frequently quoted by Bloomberg, Reuters, the Wall street Journal, and the International Herald Tribune and has appeared on CNN, CNBC, CBS and Bloomberg Radio. She has also hosted trader chats on EliteTrader, eSignal and FXStreet, sharing her expertise in both technical and fundamental analysis.

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