In computer security, AAA commonly stands for authentication, authorization and accounting. The American Anthropological Association (AAA) also share the same initials. “Triple A” has now entered our daily lexicon and as a reference to ‘credit ratings’ it’s been quickly absorbed by the masses given its ease of interpretation.
Most of us quickly redress to and reference our school days in order to judge these ratings; A+ is excellent, A- is good, B is average. It may be too early to judge the threat by S&P given the looming ‘Merkozy’ meeting of meetings scheduled for December 9th. However, speculators and investors should be left in no doubt that the merciless mechanism and methodology agencies such as S&P use to establish credit worthiness is now at it’s tensile breaking point. A- may be accepted in a school report but a “capable of better if he concentrates” doesn’t quite cut it in the rarified environment of credit rating agency scoring..
“Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services today placed its long-term sovereign ratings on 15 members of the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU or eurozone) on CreditWatch with negative implications. We expect to conclude our review of eurozone sovereign ratings as soon as possible following the EU summit scheduled for Dec. 8 and 9, 2011. Depending on the score changes, if any, that our rating committees agree are appropriate for each sovereign, we believe that ratings could be lowered by up to one notch for Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, and Luxembourg, and by up to two notches for the other governments.”
Our view on the effectiveness of policymaking in France. If we change one or more scores, we could lower the long-term rating by up to two notches. Conversely, if the above concerns were mitigated by what we consider to be appropriate policy action, we could affirm the long-term rating at ‘AAA’.
Americans are “all done” with their Xmas shopping
More than a third of U.S. shoppers are already done with most of their holiday shopping, a survey showed on Monday, signalling that retailers need to offer bigger incentives to win sales in the few weeks before Christmas. The findings underscore the fragility of the U.S. recovery, since consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of the nation’s economy.
About 32 percent of people surveyed by America’s Research Group said they finished a majority of their Christmas shopping in November. Last month included Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving when stores pulled out all the stops on discounts to woo shoppers during their biggest season of the year.
More than 6 percent completed most of their holiday shopping in the first weekend of December. The questions were asked exclusively for Reuters as part of a larger America’s Research Group survey. About 28 percent of people surveyed said they plan to take a break from shopping, now that the Black Friday weekend is behind them.
The survey also highlighted other grievances of the post-recession U.S. consumer. More than 43 percent of those surveyed said they expect the debt crisis in Europe to hurt the United States, while about 36 percent of Americans said political gridlock in Washington as the biggest problem facing the U.S. economy right now.
About 27 percent worry about the rising cost of living, while about a quarter of those surveyed see unemployment as the key issue faced by the U.S. economy. Many shoppers said that discount chains would be their destination of choice to do the rest of the holiday shopping, with nearly 38 percent of holiday shoppers planning to visit one, highlighting that shoppers remain highly price-sensitive.
Greece receives more bailout funds
The International Monetary Fund on Monday agreed to release a 2.2 billion euro ($2.95 billion) aid disbursement to Greece, part of a three-year IMF-EU bailout package to help the debt-stricken country avoid bankruptcy. The disbursement brings to 20.3 billion the sum paid out to Greece so far under the 30 billion euro IMF loan agreed in May last year. It is part of a bigger 110 billion euro rescue package for the country.
The approval of the latest aid tranche followed assurances by Prime Minister Lucas Papademos and his new unity government that the country would stick to terms of a debt reduction deal. Last week, European leaders approved an 8 billion euro tranche for Greece. An IMF mission will travel to Athens between December 12 and December 16 for preliminary discussions with the new coalition on economic policies.
The S&P 500 climbed 1 percent at 4 p.m. in New York, trimming a rally of as much as 1.8 percent following reports that S&P was planning to put France, Germany and other European nations on “credit watch negative.” The euro was down less than 0.1 percent at $1.3389 after gaining 0.7 percent earlier. Oil reversed a 1.5 percent gain to settle little changed at $100.99 a barrel. Italian, French and Spanish bonds surged; Europe’s debt markets closed before S&P’s plans were reported.
The S&P 500 extended last week’s 7.4 percent gain as Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Monti prepared a 30 billion-euro ($40 billion) plan designed to reduce the euro-region’s second- biggest debt. France and Germany want a new EU treaty to set out rules for euro area governments, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said after meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said the region’s leaders will seek to “win back a bit of trust” at a summit at the end of this week.
Merkel’s government won’t stand in the way of the Bundesbank helping to fight the debt crisis by channeling loans through the International Monetary Fund, a senior Merkel ally said. Germany is keen for the IMF to adopt a “decisive role” in combating the crisis alongside the European rescue fund, Michael Meister, the parliamentary finance spokesman for Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, said today in a telephone interview.
Merkel and Sarkozy said Europe’s two biggest economies were aligned on backing automatic penalties for countries that violate deficit limits and locking limits on debt into euro states’ constitutions. The French leader said they aimed reach consensus on the changes required by March as the two presented a common platform for a Dec. 8-9 summit of EU leaders in Brussels.
We don’t have time we are conscious of the gravity of the situation. We want to go as fast as possible based on this agreement between France and Germany, which is open to others. I want to tell French people that France and Germany totally oppose euro bonds because it isn’t at all a solution in this crisis. What a strange idea to put European debts in the same pot.
Economic calendar data releases that could affect sentiment in the morning European session
Tuesday 6 December
01:00 UK – Halifax House Prices
00:01 UK – BRC Retail Sales Monitor November
00:30 Australia – Current Account Balance Q3
03:30 Australia – Reserve Bank Interest Rate Decision
10:00 Eurozone – GDP Q3
10:00 Eurozone – Household Consumption Q3
Eurozone GDP figures will be watched carefully tomorrow. Economists polled by Bloomberg gave a median prediction of 1.4% year-on-year, unchanged from the previous release. A similar survey forecasts a quarter-on-quarter change of 0.2% also unchanged from the previous release.