Friday 23 February 2018

Credit where it's due is welcome sign from global ratings agency

IRELAND received a welcome boost yesterday with news that one of the three global ratings agencies has raised its outlook for Ireland. Standard & Poor's (S&P) didn't go as far as to award Ireland an upgrade to its credit rating, but it made it clear we could end up with one within the next two years. The caveat, though, is that if the economy remains sluggish and the banks aren't able to deal with the level of mortgage arrears on their books, we may not get upgraded at all.

And one of those two stipulations is largely out of our control as we're at the mercy of external events. If the eurozone continues to languish in recession, we'll suffer with it.

The banks may not return to profitability for another two years and they will remain reluctant to lend, the agency said.

But there's enough in S&P's commentary to be positive.

It said our debt is likely to reduce at a faster pace than expected, and pointed out that Ireland has not deviated from its budgetary targets once since entering the troika bailout programme in 2010.

For those who have struggled under increasing personal debt and have lost their jobs, what happened yesterday will have little or no impact on their lives.

But in the bigger picture, it's another step along the road to recovery. The hope is that the ripple effects will not take long to emerge.

Irish Independent

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