Jeff Horwich: Moody’s Investors Service has lowered the outlook for the credit ratings of three of Europe’s strongest economies: Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Germany. It’s part of a busy day in Europe that has investors on-edge — markets there are barely moving.
For more, the BBC’s Steve Evans is with me from Berlin. Hello, Steve.
Steve Evans: Good morning to you.
Horwich: So Steve, we’re always hearing that Germany is in the best shape of anybody around — why would they be downgraded by Moody’s?
Evans: In a way, they look like they may well be downgraded just because of their strength. In other words, Germany would pick up the bill if there’s a default by Greece, for example, and Moody’s is recognizing that it’s Germany which would pick up the tab.
Horwich: German and Spanish ministers are meeting in Germany today. What’s on the table for them?
Evans: Well clearly the crisis. The general idea was that the bailout of the Spanish banks — what was it, three weeks ago — was meant to be an end of the matter. But it’s a little bit like if you throw a bit of red meat at a ravenous beast, the danger is they get a taste for more. So the markets seem to be saying there will be more needed therefore, the signals needs to be sent there will be more to come.
Horwich: The Troika — which is the EU, IMF and representatives of the European Central Bank — are headed to Greece today, already there I presume, what do they need to hear from the Greek government?
Evans: What they need to hear is: Everything’s on track; therefore go away happy. But all the signs are they are actually saying, behind the scenes: We need more time. And the difficulty with that is the German people are not minded to give Greece more time or more money. There is a view in the German government that would be manageable — Greece leaving the euro; that’s not a universal view.
Horwich: And hence, that brings us full circle, back to that downgrade we began talking about. The BBC Steven Evans in Berlin, thank you very much.
Evans: You’re welcome.
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