New Zealand Somber, India Sanguine: Global Reaction To U.S. Rating Cut All Over The Map

Saturday, August 06, 2011 09:02
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New Zealand Somber, India Sanguine: Global Reaction To U.S. Rating Cut All Over The Map

Tags: emerging markets | international equities

The first wave of overseas response to the United States' credit downgrade ran from nervous to surprisingly upbeat.

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"This shows we continue to live in an unusually risky and uncertain global environment," comments the office of New Zealand's finance minister. (WSJ link -- may only work for subscribers)

 

Global reporters often call New Zealand first when an overnight story breaks because officials there simply wake up faster in the news cycle.

 

This time around, the Kiwis were especially insightful because New Zealand is one of the few countries that is now on a par with the United States as far as Standard & Poor's is concerned -- so they know what it's like to live with "only" an AA+ rating.

 

Belgium, the other AA+ country, has been quiet so far.

 

Among emerging markets, Indian economists seemed most philosophical about the short-term impact of a U.S. downgrade on their own economy.

 

Presidential advisor C. Rangarajan focused on the local effects and concluded there wouldn't be many. "I don't think India will be much affected," he told the Hindustan Times.

 

In terms of the big picture, they were also guardedly optimistic, calling the downgrade a "wake-up call" for an otherwise "very strong" economy.

 

It's interesting here to notice the subtleties in tone.

 

When these statements are made for purely domestic foreign audiences, they're actually fairly calm.

 

They're focused on the practical considerations and not so much on wringing their hands over what it means for Americans to lose a cherished sentimental distinction.

 

In other words, they're realistic. A good example for advisors and the rest of us.

 

For example, New Zealand, all the way down here at AA+, pays an effective yield of 3.0% on its two-year notes and 4.595% on its ten-year paper. 

 

That's high compared to what the United States is currently paying, but it's a long way from there to the 6% Italy is groaning about -- or the 8% that India shoulders without too much complaining.

 

And stoic little Belgium pays even less interest on its debt, despite having "only" an AA+ rating.

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