20100224 greece 18
Riot police line up outside a closed branch of the National Bank of Greece during a 24-hour general strike in Athens, Greece. - 

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: Here's a headline you've heard over and over again. Greece's national credit rating has been downgraded. But the bigger news is that the latest S&P decision means Greece now has the world's worst credit rating.

From the European desk, here's Marketplace's Stephen Beard.


STEPHEN BEARD: Greece is now only two notches above the bottom credit rating: default. And this says, Professor Albrecht Ritschl of the London School of Economics, puts Greece in a class of its own.

ALBRECHT RITSCHL: It is worse than Equador, it's worse than Pakistan and it's worse than a few other very small countries that would have to be looked for on a world map with a magnifying glass.

It may seem odd that a European country is now at the bottom of the list but Ritschl says it is no accident. Because Greece was a member of the euro zone, investors believed it was ultra safe to lend it money and at low interest rates. Greece borrowed way beyond its ability to repay. Ricthl says without a second rescue package Greece could default within days.

In London I'm Stephen Beard for Marketplace.