BERLIN/ATHENS — Standard & Poor’s downgraded the credit ratings of nine eurozone countries, stripping France and Austria of their coveted triple-A status but not EU paymaster Germany, in a Black Friday 13th for the troubled single currency area.
“Today’s rating actions are primarily driven by our assessment that the policy initiatives that have been taken by European policymakers in recent weeks may be insufficient to fully address ongoing systemic stresses in the eurozone,” the U.S.-based ratings agency said in a statement.
In a potentially more ominous setback, negotiations on a debt swap by private creditors seen as crucial to avert a Greek default that would rock Europe and the world economy broke up without agreement in Athens, although officials said more talks are likely next week.
If Greece cannot persuade banks and insurers to accept voluntary losses on their bond holdings, a second international rescue package for the eurozone’s most heavily indebted state will unravel, raising the prospect of bankruptcy in late March, when it has to redeem 14.4 billion euros in maturing debt.
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VN:F [1.9.22_1171]S&P takes axe to Europe (15),