Speculation over a second downgrade grows as S&P drops outlook on Polish economy

By bne IntelliNews January 10, 2017

Speculation that Poland could suffer a second downgrade of its sovereign rating at the end of the week intensified on January 10, as Standard & Poor’s lowered its estimates on economic growth.

The new estimate comes ahead of rating updates by Fitch and Moody’s scheduled for January 13. Moody's is thought likely to downgrade Poland from its current rating of A2. Similar speculation surfaced in September, but Moody’s eventually did not publish a rating update. S&P surprised in January last year as it offered the sovereign its first ever downgrade.

Moody's rating has had a negative outlook since early last year. Fitch is speculated to be considering lowering its outlook on Poland this week. The agency currently rates Poland at A- with stable outlook.

The bearish report from S&P suggests concern over Poland's fiscal standing at the rating agencies is growing. Still, the agency's revision of its GDP growth forecast for 2016 to 2.8%, from 3%, actually appears somewhat optimisitic given the collapse in indicators in the second half of the year. The prediction for 2017 has been changed to 3.2% from the previous forecast of 3.3%.

The Polish economy has struggled to gain momentum in 2016 because of falling investment, with consumption the only pillar of growth. Slower economic growth could translate into lower income from taxes and problems in meeting the assumed deficit target. The government insists the budget gap will not exceed 3% of GDP, despite inflated expenditure.

Should Moody's decide that tips the balance and goes through with a downgrade, it would be the second such decision by a rating agency in 12 months. In mid-January 2016, S&P unexpectedly downgraded Poland, weakening the zloty and pushing up debt yields. The zloty and the yields have not managed much of a come back since, additionally dogged by external risks, such as Brexit and the Trump presidency.







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