by Monty Guild with Tony Danaher
The three main rating agencies—Fitch, Moody’s, and Standard and Poor’s—all went on a downgrading spree in the first half of 2016. So far this year, Standard and Poor’s has downgraded 16 sovereigns, Moody’s has downgraded 24, and Fitch’s has downgraded 15. All of these represent significant increases over downgrades for 2015, and with many countries on negative watch and marked as proximate downgrade risks, 2016 could well see more negative rating activity on sovereigns than 2011 did (the last high-water mark).
Most of the countries whose debt has been downgraded are commodity producers such as Brazil, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, and Nigeria. Lower prices for oil and other commodities are still putting pressure on their finances.