ECONOMY: Moody’s warns over Cyprus high level of debt

Cyprus’ credit profile (Ba2 stable) reflects its small but wealthy economy, improved economic resilience and the government’s fiscal outperformance in the wake of the banking crisis, but there are negatives, Moody’s said.

A Moody’s annual report warned it could change the rating outlook to negative if the positive debt trend were to reverse, or if recent legislative actions in the banking sector failed to significantly reduce non-performing exposures (NPEs).

“Cyprus’ strong growth trends and primary surpluses have generated positive debt trends, and we expect deleveraging to resume this year, after a one-off spike in the debt burden in 2018 associated with the capital injection to Cyprus Cooperative Bank,” said Sarah Carlson, a Moody’s Senior Vice President.

According to Moody’s, Cyprus credit challenges stem from its small and relatively undiversified economy, as well as high levels of government, banking and household debt.

Increasing spending pressures have the potential to weigh on fiscal prospects, while the large financial sector is burdened by the highest non-performing exposure (NPE) ratio in the European Union.

The stable outlook, said Moody’s, reflects the balanced risks following the countrys financial crisis. Debt dynamics are robust and so debt metrics will likely improve steadily.

The evolution of the sovereign rating and outlook will be driven largely by debt trends and banking sector issues.

If Moody’s were to conclude that macroeconomic conditions and policy actions were to result in a sustained and significant decline in the government debt stock and the stock of NPEs in the banking sector, the rating agency would consider changing the rating outlook to positive.

Conversely, negative rating pressure would emerge if the debt trend were to reverse, or if recent legislative actions in the banking sector failed to significantly reduce NPEs.

Source: The Financial Mirror