Thursday 26 April 2018

Moran to meet Moody's head in bid to lift negative outlook

Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

DEPARTMENT of Finance Secretary General John Moran will meet the head of Moody's today as the ratings agency remains the only one of the 'big three' to keep Ireland at junk status.

The department said it was the first time Mr Moran will meet with Michael Madelain, although the department, and officials from the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA), have meetings on a regular basis with Moody's and the other ratings agencies, Standard & Poors and Fitch.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan also met with Moody's officials at the informal meeting of European Finance Ministers in Dublin last April.

Moody's affirmed its negative outlook for Ireland in March and in July warned that deterioration in the economic outlook or disruption in the markets would put our rating at risk of a downgrade.

Mr Moran will meet Mr Madelain on the margins of a conference organised by a European think-tank, Eurofi, in Vilnius, which will be hosting a meeting of European finance ministers as part of the Lithuanian Presidency of the EU.

The Secretary General is likely to outline Ireland's progress to date, as well as the fact that the 10-year yield has been hovering around 4pc.

A spokesman for the NTMA said senior officials also meet the relevant country analysts and senior management in the agencies a number of times a year, including in recent weeks.

In July Moody's warned that Ireland's credit rating continued to be constrained by the country's high level of debt and the extent of the bad loans in the banks.

The agency also warned that deterioration in the economic outlook or disruption in the markets would put our rating at risk of being downgraded.

Its regular credit opinion update to the markets said the agency's fundamental concern was about when the Irish economy could regain growth momentum to slash its debt burden.

The Government had hoped that Moodys would upgrade Ireland in the wake of both the promissory note deal in February and the extension of the maturities on some of the European bailout loans.

The ratings giant affirmed its negative outlook in March amid concerns sparked by the bailout of Cyprus.

Wall Street finance house Cantor Fitzgerald has predicted that Moody's will not upgrade Ireland until next year at the earliest.

It said it was unlikely to move until after the bank stress tests are carried out next year.

Irish Independent

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