20 May 2011

Still on notice, but credit rating downgrade averted

7:49 am on 20 May 2011

The Government has achieved its immediate budgetary aim of averting a credit-rating downgrade that could have pushed up borrowing costs.

The ratings agencies Fitch and Standard & Poor's have reaffirmed their ratings but kept New Zealand on notice of a downgrade.

Standard & Poor's says the Government's targets for debt reduction will, if met, boost the country's creditworthiness.

But it says its continued negative outlook reflects the very high overseas debt held by the Government and households combined.

The Budget has foreign debt rising from 78% of GDP to 85% in the next four years.

Moody's, the only agency not to have New Zealand on notice of a downgrade, says the overall debt is a problem but the low net government debt is offsetting that for the time being.