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Kai Ryssdal: So you say you want a revolution, but can you also deal with a downgrade? Today Standard & Poor’s joined Moody’s in downgrading Egypt’s credit rating. They did the same thing to Tunisia after the street protests there.
The downgrades make it more expensive for those two countries to borrow. But the crowds in the streets probably don’t care much. Our New York bureau chief Heidi Moore explains.
Heidi Moore: The last thing people worry about in a revolution is who’s going to pick up the check. But after the dust settles, political instability can be pretty costly. Just ask recently downgraded Egypt and Tunisia.
Josh Brown is an advisor with Fusion Analytics.
Josh Brown: Imagine if they have a Visa card and they’re paying 18 percent and all of a sudden the bank that issued that card tells them it’s going to be 35 percent for the next two months. It makes it really hard for them to even consider new purchases or pay anything other than the interest.
Tunisia’s central banker has complained that the rating agencies rushed to judgment. But Moody’s and S & P don’t mind being politically incorrect. They ask mainly one question: Is this country going to be willing to pay back its debt? Any uncertainty can lead to a downgrade.
Uri Dadush is a senior associate with the Carnegie Endowment.
Uri Dadush: When people when don’t want to lend to the government, they typically do not also want to lend to the private sectors or to the banks.
Neither Egypt’s government nor its banks are open for business. So it’s too early to say how expensive the downgrade really will be. Egypt’s bond prices fell last week. But they are not moving much now. Investors are just waiting.
Brown: It’s one of these countries where there’s actual capitalism taking place. I don’t think anyone’s counting on anything falling apart. I think a freeze is different from a collapse.
Egypt hasn’t been a big international borrower. But the International Monetary Fund says it will support the country if the bond markets don’t.
I’m Heidi Moore for Marketplace.
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