Russians demand a better debt rating

President Dmitry Medvedev speaks during his first full press conference as Russian president at the Skolkovo centre outside Moscow on May 18, 2011.

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: Turns out the U.S. and Russia have a common foe now: Standard & Poor's. After the U.S. had its credit rating downgraded by the rating agency, Russia wants to be upgraded.

From Moscow, Peter van Dyk reports on why Russia thinks its debt is undervalued.


PETER VAN DYK: Russia has long complained about its credit rating. Currently, the country is BBB, the second lowest investment grade and below the ratings of Ireland, Cyprus, and the Bahamas. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin calls it an outrage. The country did default on its debt in 1998. But now it has more than $500 billion in currency reserves and is running a budget surplus.

YAROSLAV LISSOVOLIK: Russia believes that it did the job to deserve a higher rating.

Yaroslav Lissovolik is chief economist with Deutsche Bank in Russia. He says its fiscal situation is better than the U.S. and many European countries. Russia's public debt is just 10 percent of GDP.

LISSOVOLIK: Similar indicators, in countries such as Italy for example, would be of the order of nearly ten times higher.

But analysts don't expect a change soon, especially with dependence on oil a concern, commitment to reform uncertain, and presidential elections due in March.

In Moscow, I'm Peter van Dyk for Marketplace.

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