Oh dear. Reinhart and Rogoff may wish to avoid ever holidaying in Greece, Portugal, or Spain. Their seminal (and now-disproved) paper – arguing that once a country’s public debt was over 90% of their GDP, there is a strong negative relationship with the country’s economic growth – probably took up a fair amount of the Troika’s discussion time when it was deciding on the measures the peripheral countries needed to take if aid were to come their way.
Of course, Reinhart and Rogoff were not the only ones to argue that high government debt is bad for growth. Over the years, several economists have pointed out that government borrowing can crowd out private investment, and that reducing government borrowing can allow growth to resume. Read more
Spain seems to have survived the most recent scrutiny by ratings agencies Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s. Last week, S&P hit Spain with a two-notch downgrade, but still kept them at investment grade…just barely though. Then this week, Moody’s confirmed Spain’s government bond rating at Baa3. This concluded a review for a possible downgrade that began back in June.
When moving Spain from BBB+ to BBB-, S&P focused on five factors: Spain’s delay in asking for ESM assistance, a deepening recession, Germany’s recent comments that any direct bank recapitalization by the ESM once the banking union is set up should exclude “legacy assets,” a deteriorating political climate, and likely fiscal slippage. Moody’s decision to confirm the Baa3 rating was based on three stated factors: a probable request for a precautionary credit line from the ESM (they viewed this as a positive), the government’s commitment to fiscal and structural reforms, and progress towards recapitalizing the banks.