Unfair Standards Keep its Credit Rating Below China’s, says India

Asking why Asia’s third-largest economy has been denied an upgrade even as growth and fundamentals improve, India questioned the methodology used by global rating agencies.

“Rating agencies have inconsistent standards,” Arvind Subramanian, chief economic adviser at the Finance Ministry, told reporters in New Delhi.

Questioning why China has kept its AA- rating from S&P Global Ratings despite rising debt and slowing growth, the government said in a report the same day that India compares favorably with other emerging countries on metrics such as default risk.

The Finance Ministry of the country said in its annual economic survey, released a day before the federal budget that India has a “strong growth trajectory, which coupled with its commitment to fiscal discipline exhibited over the last three years suggests that its deficit and debt ratios are likely to decline significantly over the coming years.”

The ministry wrote that while China’s growth slowed from more than 10 percent to 6.5 percent, China’s debt ratio surged to about 205 percent of gross domestic product from 142 percent, from 2009 to 2015.

Despite an “ominous scissors pattern” of rising debt and slowing economic expansion,  S&P upgraded China in 2010, the report said. Even though there’s been a “dramatic improvement” in growth and economic stability since 2014, India has remained stuck at BBB- at the same time.

While a spokesman for Moody’s Investors Service declined to comment to the media about India’s claims, there was no response reportedly from analysts at S&P and Fitch Ratings to the media queries on the subject.

Citing Asia’s widest fiscal deficit as a drag on the nation’s sovereign rating, India is rated just one step above junk by S&P Global, Moody’s and Fitch.

Bettering the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists, India’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley set a target of a deficit of 3.2 percent of gross domestic product for the year ending March 2018 in Wednesday’s budget. While it is lower than the 3.5 percent shortfall estimated for the current financial year, it is wider than the 3 percent goal set earlier.

S&P wrote in a Jan. 26 statement that the agency’s view of the Chinese overnment’s reform agenda, growth prospects and strong external metrics wre reflected in the rating accorded to China. “On the other hand, we weigh these strengths against certain credit factors that are weaker than what is typical for similarly rated peers.”

According to data compiled by Bloomberg Intelligence, from 193 percent in 2009, China’s debt surged to 264 percent of its GDP at the end of 2016. Accrodign ot the data from the central bank of India, from 72 percent as of March 2009, India’s total liabilities fell to 66 percent of GDP in the fiscal year ended March 2016.

(Adapted from Bloomberg)

Categories: Economy & Finance

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