Public finance: Moody’s and Fitch leave France’s rating unchanged


“AA -” for Fitch and “Aa2” for Moody’s. The rating of France’s sovereign debt, issued on Friday evening by the two largest US agencies, remained the same as last year. The outlook remains “stable”, according to the agencies.

Fitch’s “AA -” corresponds to the fourth best rating in its rating and Moody’s “Aa2” to the third. “If it were a score out of 20, France would be between 17 and 18. We therefore remain among the best students in the class,” comments Sylvain Bersinger of the economic research firm Asterès. Economy and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire responded in the evening by saying he wanted to “redouble our commitment to restore public finances and meet the target of being below 3% deficit in 2027”.

“Private or public investors do not need Fitch and Moody’s to rate French debt”

The verdict of the two US rating agencies, although announced a long time ago, had no effect on the bond market. “In reality, private or public investors do not need Fitch and Moody’s to rate French debt. They have their own rating and analysis agencies,” continues Sylvain Bersinger.

And despite recent announcements of the debt ratio (more than 111% of GDP) for 2023, which according to Bercy’s own statements is expected to worsen, assimilable sovereign bonds (OATs) remain “safe and very liquid for investors, especially institutional investors (banks and others states),” states the economist.

Pay attention to the Standard & Poor’s rating

Would these rating agencies ultimately have only symbolic meaning? “They do their job, I do mine: I straighten France’s accounts,” Economy and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Wednesday.

The most watched of the American rating agencies, Standard & Poor’s, must publish its French debt rating on May 31. She gave it a “negative” outlook last year. However, this time it could downgrade its debt, and if it did, it would become less attractive to the markets. Coupled with the fact that the growth forecast for this year has been revised downwards to a low 1%, it may be more difficult to find a buyer for France’s 3,000 billion euros of public debt.

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