France Blames Ratings Agencies for Aggravating Greek Credit Woes

Rating agencies have successively downgraded the sovereign debt of Portugal, Greece and Spain and this has, in part, led to a sharp devaluing of the euro. The European Union has protested that the lower ratings assigned to Greece, in particular, ignore the fundamental indicators of the Greek economy as well as the aid plan created by the euro zone and the International Monetary Fund.

When speaking on French radio Europe 1, French Economy Minister Christine Lagrade said that France will reinforce control over the rating agencies. “I think certain rules should be fixed … because we don’t degrade a country under the conditions that its rating has been degraded, that’s to precipitate purchases of sales 15 minutes before the close of trading, deplorable for the solidity of the market,” she explained.

In an interview with Le Monde, she also said that the downgrade 15 minutes before markets closed was “crime inducing” because it created a panic among those holding Greek bonds who thoughtlessly offloaded the investments before markets closed, driving values down even further.

Previous European Commissioner for Internal Market Regulation Michel Barnier expressed the opinion that rating agencies should be “disciplined and responsible in their evaluation process.” Mr. Barnier, also of France, had also mentioned that the European Union was considering creating Europe’s own rating agency to balance the valuation opinions of the American agencies.

Vive la France! This is like blaming the thermometer for the heat.

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