Global Investing

Ask the audience

No sign at a Fitch Ratings briefing today that things will get much better this year for emerging market debt. The 100 or so mainly industry attendees were asked to give their thoughts using a machine not unlike the “Ask the Audience” gadget seen on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire”.

Only 10 percent said credit quality would improve over the next 12 months. By far the largest vote — 59 percent — was for credit quality to “deteriorate” somewhat.

 As for a wholesale crisis on emerging markets, the attendees were fairly sceptical. Only 12 percent thought there was a more than 50 percent chance of such event. Half the respondents said the odds were between 20 and 49 percent. SOme 38 percent said it was less than that.

Fitch, meanwhile, said it agreed that emerging market credit quality was likely to deteriorate further. It was corporate rather than sovereign debt that was most most likely to defauls. And emerging Europe was the most at risk.

from Africa News blog:

Forgiveness in paradise?

If you lived on an archipelago that defined paradise with palm-fringed white sand beaches and emerald green waters, you would expect a relaxed, lazy pace of life.

Lazy would be a generous description of the Seychellois soldier’s wave at the entrance to State House as I arrived with my local colleague George Thande - who is admittedly a regular visitor here.

The Seychelles were ruled by the French before the British and State House in the capital Victoria is every bit the luxurious colonial mansion: a lush garden exploding with tropical colours; an oil painting of Britain's Queen Victoria hangs in the wood-panelled reception room close to a portrait of Castor, a runaway slave from the 19th century with a fearsome reputation; a Daimler and Rolls Royce are parked on the forecourt.

from MacroScope:

Falling out of the euro zone?

The periphery economies of the euro zone are suddenly in the spotlight.  Credit rating agency Standard & Poor's has cut its outlook on Ireland's sovereign debt to negative. It worries that fiscal measures to recapitalise banks and boost the economy might not improve competitiveness, diversity and growth -- all making it harder to manage debt.

Next came Greece. S&P basically put the country on watch with a negative bias. The global financial crisis has increased the risk of a difficult and long-lasting struggle to keep the Greek economy on track, it said.

All this is a long, long way from the unravelling of the euro zone -- it just got a new member, Slovakia, after all. But the subject has been raised. Gary Dugan, chief investment officer of Merrill Lynch's wealth management arm, told a group of reporters in London recently that he expected political calls to quit the currency to be heard in some member countries as the global recession bites. He added that it wouldn't happen, but that the talk could weaken the euro.