The credit rating agency Fitch confirmed the debt of Greece in the 'BB' grade with a stable outlook.
In a statement, the house said that the debt reflects the weak medium-term growth prospects, the still high levels of non-performing loans (NPLs) in the banking sector and the very large volume of general government debt and external debt. These weaknesses are offset by high levels of per capita income - well above the median levels of both 'BB' and 'BBB' countries - and higher governance performance than most other countries. whose debt has no investment rating. The stable outlook reflects Fitch's view on the viability of Greece's public finances, despite the great shock to the economy and public finances from the pandemic and the significant risks to the economic outlook.
The house points out that the Greek economy has performed better in the last six months than it expected, despite the re-introduction of severe restrictions on the activity of individuals and businesses in the fall of 2002 and this March due to coronavirus outbreaks. The economy shrank 8,2% in 2020 compared to 10,2% estimated by Fitch and grew 2,5% in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the last quarter of 2020. Short-term indicators indicate strong activity in the second quarter of 2021, The house says, adding that the resources of the Recovery Fund will further strengthen the prospects for recovery this year.
Fitch revised upwards its forecast for Greek GDP growth this year to 4,3% from 3%, while expecting a growth rate of 5,3% for 2022, which is lower than its previous forecast, and 3,5 % for 2023. The main risk for these forecasts, Fitch notes, is the new increase in coronavirus cases leading to new restrictions in Greece and discouraging foreign tourists from traveling to Greece during the summer months. Another risk is the impact of the pandemic on the labor market when support measures are withdrawn. An upside risk to the growth forecast is that it does not reflect the impact of the Recovery Fund loans. The impact of these loans will be taken into account when there is more information regarding the relevant investments and their financing, the house says.
For the banking sector, Fitch says it remains a weakness for the country's credit profile, but stresses that its asset quality ratios have improved, with the percentage of non-performing loans falling to 2020% in 30,1 from 40,6%, thanks to securitizations. The extension of the "Iraklis" framework for another 18 months will further support the reduction of NPLs and the house predicts a significant reduction of their percentage this year, despite the fact that it expects new red loans.