From Yahoo News.
Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded the ratings on 26 Italian banks as they struggled with the effect of government austerity measures.
The rating agency said Monday that the banks are suffering because Italy is back in recession and government austerity measures are cutting demand for loans.
The banks are struggling with more loan losses, limited access to funding and weaker profits.
Moody’s noted that support of the European Central Bank lowered the default risk of many banks.
Its outlook for all 26 banks is negative.
From the Wall Street Journal.
The ratings for Italian banks are now among the lowest within advanced European countries, reflecting these banks’ susceptibility to the adverse operating environments in Italy and Europe, Moody’s said in a statement. Two of the country’s largest institutions, UniCredit SpA (UCG.MI, UNCFF) and Intesa Sanpaolo SpA (ISP.MI, ISNPY), were included.
Moody’s move came hours after the firm raised an alarm on Spain, arguing the country’s banks remain vulnerable even after Madrid moved to increase the banks’ cushions against potential losses from real-estate loans.
[…]Italy, saddled with EUR1.9 trillion ($2.44 trillion) debt, has signed onto the EU’s fiscal compact that sets strict limits on the country’s deficit levels. In recent weeks, Mr. Monti has begun pressing Germany to give Italy more fiscal slack to stimulate its economy and create jobs. Mr. Monti has recently proposed that the EU create special exemptions to the budget rules when countries target their public spending on projects like broadband investments and infrastructure.
Moody’s downgrades come after the ratings firm in February placed various ratings of 114 financial institutions in 16 European countries on review for possible downgrade, highlighting the region’s banks’ vulnerability to the euro-zone sovereign debt crisis.
Moody’s is expected to follow the downgrade of Italian banks by cutting the ratings of Spanish banks. By the end of June, more than 100 European banks, as well as Wall Street giants like Bank of America Corp. (BAC) and Citigroup Inc. (C), are likely to have ratings that are at least one notch lower.
[…]Moody’s also alluded to J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.’s (JPM) recent disclosures of more than $2 billion in trading losses as a reminder of potential problems lurking at some European banks.
“Recent events highlight the risks for creditors from potential weaknesses in governance, controls and risk management, especially at some smaller, privately-held banks,” Moody’s said in its news release.
Moody’s says it will conclude its reviews by the end of June. In coming weeks, major U.S. financial institutions, Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are likely to face downgrades.
Banks in Austria and Sweden are expected to see downgrades after Spain.
Italy’s debt is $2.44 trillion, ours is nearly $16 trillion.