News / Europe

Germany's Credit Warning Underscores Eurozone Problems

A trader makes a phone call at his desk at the Frankfurt stock exchange, July 24, 2012.
A trader makes a phone call at his desk at the Frankfurt stock exchange, July 24, 2012.
TEXT SIZE - +
Lisa Bryant
PARIS — Stock markets and the euro currency dipped Tuesday after the international financial-rating agency Moody's lowered its credit outlook for Europe's strongest economy, Germany.  New jitters are also surfacing over two shakier European economies, Spain and Greece.

By lowering Germany's credit outlook from stable to negative - along with those of two other top-rated countries, Luxembourg and The Netherlands - Moody's is signaling that the eurozone's crisis is affecting even its strongest economies.

The move is the first step to a possible downgrade of Germany's sterling AAA credit rating.  Europe's second-largest economy, France, lost its AAA rating earlier this year.  So did Austria.

Explaining its warning, Moody's said Germany was vulnerable to a possible Greek exit from the eurozone and the need to increase financial support to other ailing countries like Spain and Italy.  

Analyst Benedicta Marzinotto, of Brussels-based think-tank Bruegel, says it also reflects larger fears.

"I think the decision to reduce the rating on Germany is a sign that the rating agencies are considering the possibility of a eurozone breakup which would have consequences also for Germany," Marzinotto said.

Another analyst, Stewart Fleming of London-based Chatham House, said he was surprised at Moody's move.

"The German economy is fundamentally very, very strong," he said.  "Far stronger than the United States economy, the British economy, the Japanese economy.  So I certainly do not see this as an indication that the crisis is about to spread to Germany.  It is not."

It appears a June European Union summit aimed to ease market fears about the eurozone has had limited impact.  Borrowing costs are soaring for Spain, despite an EU agreement to bail out Spanish banks.

And Greece is having a hard time paying back its debt and enacting its austerity promises.  Creditors are in Athens now to assess its progress.  But with the Greek economy shrinking faster than expected, expectations are again mounting that that the country may exit the eurozone.

Fleming believes a Greek exit would be disastrous.

"Leaving the eurozone in the middle of an economic, financial and political crisis is of no advantage to Greece or its people," he said.  "So efforts will be made to keep Greece in the eurozone, to hold Greece's feet to the fire.  And try and get Greece to take reforms, economic, political and social reforms, which it should have undertaken any time over the past 20 years."

Eurozone leaders are not expected to meet again for several weeks.  But as the summer goes by and their problems mount, analysts say they may need to take action sooner, rather than later.

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

36 people are confirmed dead, but some 266 remain trapped on board More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid