Greece has been downgraded to CCC, a drop of three credit rating grades, by the almighty S&P credit ratings agency.
Greece had its credit rating cut three levels by Standard & Poor’s, which branded the nation with the world’s lowest debt grade and said a restructuring looks “increasingly likely.”
The move to CCC from B reflects “our view that there is a significantly higher likelihood of one or more defaults,” S&P said in a statement today. “Risks for the implementation of Greece’s EU/IMF borrowing program are rising, given Greece’s increased financing needs and ongoing internal political disagreements surrounding the policy conditions required.”
The problem now is soaring credit default swaps:
Credit-default swaps on Greece, Ireland and Portugal surged to records on concern European governments’ struggles to resolve the deficit crisis will threaten their ability to pay their debts.
Swaps on Greece jumped 47 basis points to an all-time high of 1,610 as of 5:30 p.m. in London after Standard & Poor’s downgraded the nation, according to CMA. Contracts on Ireland soared 27 basis points to 740, Portugal climbed 22 to 764 and the Markit iTraxx SovX Western Europe Index of swaps on 15 governments jumped 7 basis points to 218, approaching the record 221.75 set Jan. 10.
Remember those from the financial crisis? Credit default swaps are insurance policies, anyone can buy, which pay out when a nation defaults.
Greece loses, they win. The problem is those who issue CDSes will have to pay out. Remember AIG?
We've already said Greece needs to restructure it's debt, but the EU and ECB won't allow that because it would hurt the banks.
Now a BIS report shows U.S. Banks are heavily exposed to the European credit crisis because they have issued credit default swaps:
it seems that approximately 30% of total potential exposures to debt from the PIGs are covered by default insurance (see the figures in red). Put another way, if one of the PIGs defaults, creditors who actually hold bonds from that country will absorb about 70% of the losses, while agents (primarily banks and insurance companies) that sold insurance against the possibility of default will have to cover the remaining 30%. That's not a trivial amount.