Saturday, January 23, 2016

23/1/16: Poland's Sovereign Risk Troubles

With what appears to be a political-motivated downgrade by the S&P on January, from A to BBB+, with steady outlook, Poland’s sovereign and macro risks have been pushed to the top of news flow. Meanwhile, Moody’s rates Poland A2 (stable) and Fitch A. However, as noted by Euromoney country risk recent assessment, the sovereign risks turmoil that accelerated over the last few weeks has been building up for some time now.

Euromoney Country Risk (ECR) survey shows that by the end of 2015, Poland’s political risk score dropped to 20.06, “the lowest it has been since ECR launched an updated methodology in 2011”. More interestingly, “Poland’s political risk score has been declining – indicating increased risk – since 2011.”

Worse, per ECR: “the drop in Poland’s political score from 20.17 in September to 20.06 in December combined with a fall in its economic risk score from 19.38 to 19.27 over the same period, contributing to a decline in its overall score to 65.62 from 66.93. Poland, which enjoyed a ranking as the 29th safest country in the world in September, dropped four spots in rankings since the yearend survey.

Here is ECR’s summary of scores for Poland, including some recent moves:

It is interesting to see Poland significantly underperforming Slovakia:

Overall, given that both Slovakia and Hungary have, over recent years, adopted a series of reforms that severely undercut effectiveness of institutional checks and balances over the power of the executive, the reaction of ratings agencies and European authorities to Poland following the same route suggests growing concern and nervousness in Europe over all and any national experimentation with populist and/or non-conformist (to EU 'standards') policies.

Not being a fan of the current Polish leadership, I find myself in Poland's corner: in a democratic setting, it is people, not Eurocrats, who should decide on their future institutions.

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