July 6, 2020 (MLN): Moody's Investors Service says that non-investment grade emerging and frontier market sovereigns face a sharp economic downturn following the coronavirus outbreak, with many not recovering to pre-crisis levels until 2022 or beyond.
Reflecting these challenges, Moody's has so far this year taken rating action on 50 non-investment grade sovereigns, 29 of which have been principally motivated by the coronavirus outbreak.
Moody's conclusions are summarized in the second edition of a bi-annual chartbook that highlights key rating trends for non-investment grade sovereigns across the globe.
“Globally, debt-to-GDP ratios will jump, often from already elevated levels, and we expect they will continue to rise over the coming years, raising fiscal challenges,” says Michael Higgins, a Moody's Analyst.
“The coronavirus shock is precipitating a significant increase in external vulnerability and government liquidity risks among non-investment grade sovereigns, while political tensions remain present, especially as the pandemic heightens focus on many social risks,” adds Higgins.
All non-investment grade emerging and frontier market sovereigns will experience slower growth on account of the global coronavirus shock, with 2020 growth forecasts revised down by 6.8 percentage points on average from the end of 2019.
In 2021, Moody's expects economic recoveries to vary widely, depending on policy measures governments implement, including their nature, magnitude and timeliness, as well as on the structure of the economy.
Specifically, services-dependent economies – especially those with high exposure to tourism – and commodity exporters will experience a slower rebound in activity.
As of the end of June 2020, Moody's rated 76 emerging and frontier markets at Ba1 below, an increase of three from December 2019, following the assignment of a B3 rating to Laos and the downgrade of South Africa and Bahamas into non-investment grade.