Germany sceptical on 'EU ratings agency': Schaeuble

15th December 2011, Comments 0 comments

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has dismissed calls to create an EU ratings agency and said countries bore part responsibility for the market power wielded by Fitch, Moody's, and Standard and Poor's.

"The states themselves gave them (the ratings agencies) part of their disproportional significance," he told the daily General Anzeiger in an interview to be published Friday.

He said the leading agencies, which have come under fire for compounding the problems of debt-mired states with threats to downgrade their ratings, "have to hold their ground in the market and are themselves profit-oriented".

"To hold their own on the US market, they have to create a little publicity. Whether that is always very serious is a matter that can be questioned occasionally," he said.

Schaeuble said nevertheless that it would be wrong to "kill the messenger", and that Europe must "solve its own problems".

Asked about a possible EU ratings agency proposed to supplant the current market leaders, the minister said he was sceptical.

"Who would do that then? I am for example not convinced that a state institution could beat the existing, long-standing private competitors," he said.

Greece, Ireland and Portugal all suffered ratings downgrades that accelerated unsustainable rises in their borrowing costs over the past two years, with Spain and Italy also coming under pressure.

This week Moody's warned it would review EU nations' credit ratings after Standard and Poor's last week put the long-term sovereign-debt ratings of 15 eurozone nations on negative watch.

Standard and Poor's has also threatened to downgrade the European Union and the eurozone's EFSF bailout fund's ratings.

© 2011 AFP

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