It seems Greece is willing to begin criminal proceedings against Moody's after the latest downgrade to junk status.
Moody's downgrades Greece to Caa1 from B1, negative outlook. Moody's Investors Service has downgraded Greece's local and foreign currency bond ratings to Caa1 from B1, and assigned a negative outlook to the ratings. The rating action concludes the review for possible downgrade that the rating agency initiated on 9 May 2011.
The main triggers for today's downgrade are as follows:
1. The increased risk that Greece will fail to stabilise its debt position, without a debt restructuring, in light of (1) the ever-increasing scale of the implementation challenges facing the government, (2) the country's highly uncertain growth prospects and (3) a track record of underperformance against budget consolidation targets.
2. The increased likelihood that Greece's supporters (the IMF, ECB and the EU Commission, together known as the "Troika") will, at some point in the future, require the participation of private creditors in a debt restructuring as a precondition for funding support.
Taken together, these risks imply at least an even chance of default over the rating horizon. Moody's points out that, over five-year investment horizons, around 50% of Caa1-rated sovereigns, non-financial corporate and financial institutions have consistently met their debt service requirements on a timely basis, while around 50% have defaulted.
Greece's Caa1 rating incorporates Moody's assumption that current negotiations between the Greek government and the Troika will result in further official support for the Greek government and the announcement of additional austerity and structural reform measures.
The expectation of a repeated failure to meet targets carries two implications. First, Greece is unlikely to return to the credit markets in 2012 for funding, and will require additional financial assistance from the Troika in order to avoid a default. The quid pro quo for such assistance will inevitably be further fiscal austerity and economic reform measures that will be necessary to address the shortcomings of the programme to date. Second, Moody's believes that raising the austerity bar still higher will further increase implementation risk for the Greek programme.