Economic Indicators and Various Reports On It- GDP, FD, EODB, WIR etc

India bats for Sovereign Credit Rating upgrade


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Sovereign credit rating

Mains level: Read the attached story


Central idea: India is seeking an upgrade to its sovereign credit rating, currently at the lowest-possible investment grade, as it believes its economic metrics have improved considerably since the pandemic.

What are Sovereign Credit Ratings?

  • A sovereign credit rating is a measure of a country’s creditworthiness, or its ability to meet its financial obligations.
  • It is an assessment of the credit risk associated with a country’s bonds or other debt securities.
  • The rating is assigned by credit rating agencies such as Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s, and Fitch Ratings.

India’s current ratings

  • S&P and Fitch rate India ‘BBB-‘ and Moody’s ‘Baa3’, all indicative of the lowest-possible investment grade, but with a stable outlook.

What does BBB mean?

  • A ‘BBB’ rating indicates that expectations of default risk are currently low.
  • The capacity for payment of financial commitments is considered adequate, but adverse business or economic conditions are more likely to impair this capacity.

What is a Rating Agency?

  • Rating agencies assess the creditworthiness or potential of an equity, debt or country.
  • Their reports are read by investors to make an informed decision on whether or not to invest in a particular country or companies in that geography.
  • They assess if a country, equity or debt is financially stable and whether it at a low/high default risk.
  • In simpler terms, these reports help investors gauge if they would get a return on their investment.

What do they do?

  • The agencies periodically re-evaluate previously assigned ratings after new developments geopolitical events or a significant economic announcement by the concerned entity.
  • Their reports are sold and published in financial and daily newspapers.

What grading pattern do they follow?

  • The three prominent ratings agencies, viz., Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch subscribe to largely similar grading patterns.
  • Standard & Poor’s accord their highest grade, that is, AAA, to countries, equity or debt with the exceedingly high capacity to meet their financial commitments.
  • Its grading slab includes letters A, B and C with an addition a single or double letter denoting a higher grade.
  • Moody’s separates ratings into short and long-term definitions. Its longer-term grading ranges from Aaa to C, with Aaa being the highest.
  • Fitch, too, rates from AAA to D, with D being the lowest. It follows the same succession scheme as Moody’s and Fitch.

Significance of such ratings

  • Access to Capital: Higher credit ratings mean that a country can access capital at a lower cost, while lower ratings indicate that borrowing costs will be higher.
  • Investment Decisions: Investors use credit ratings as a tool to evaluate a country’s creditworthiness and assess the level of risk associated with investing in that country.
  • Economic Growth: Higher credit ratings typically lead to increased foreign investment, which can create jobs, boost productivity, and stimulate economic growth.
  • International Trade: Countries with higher credit ratings are viewed as more stable and trustworthy, making them more attractive trading partners for other countries.
  • Reputation: Countries with lower credit ratings may be seen as less reliable or stable, which can negatively impact diplomatic relationships and political influence.

Criticism of the rating agencies

  • Credibility: Popular ratings agencies publicly reveal their methodology, which is based on macroeconomic data publicly made available by a country, to lend credibility to their inferences.
  • Bias: These agencies were subjected to severe criticism for allegedly spurring the financial crisis in the United States, which began in 2017.
  • Fouled metrics: The agencies underestimated the credit risk associated with structured credit products and failed to adjust their ratings quickly enough to deteriorating market conditions.
  • Erroneous: They were charged for methodological errors and conflict of interest on multiple counts.

Why is India seeking upgrade in its credit ratings?

  • Improved creditworthiness: These ratings are used to judge a country’s creditworthiness, often impacting its borrowing costs.
  • Stable indicators: India has series of stable parameters such as economic growth rate, inflation, general government debt and short-term external debt as a percentage of GDP, and political stability, among others.

Measures taken to improve ratings

  • India aims to cut its fiscal deficit to 5.9% of GDP next fiscal year, from the 6.4% target for the current year that ends March 31, and to further reduce that to 4.5% in the next three years.
  • India’s Economic Survey has forecast growth of 6% to 6.8% for 2023-24, which would make it one of the world’s fastest-growing major economies.

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