2011: A year of debt crises, downgrades

NEW YORK, DEC 25: From debt turmoils to downgrades, and the default risks for corporates and sovereign entities alike, a mosaic of grey shades overshadowed the global economic landscape in 2011 and the big brothers struggled to maintain even their anaemic growth rates.

Against the backdrop of spiralling European debt contagion and leadership lacunae, the very existence of their common currency euro — a symbol of regional unity — was seen at stake.

At the same time, the Americans were seen facing their own set of woes, as the political brinkmanship over debt ceiling kept the US economy on tenterhooks.

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A slew of rating downgrades, including that of the US as a sovereign entity, as well as slowing growth prospects in emerging economies such as China and India, worsened the investor sentiments worldwide.

Reflecting the overall sluggishness, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) says it expects the global economy to grow by around four per cent in 2011 and 2012, much lower than over five per cent expansion seen in 2010.

“Because of threats of (further) faulty policy responses in the euro area, the global economy will likely enter 2012 on a weak note. A mild recession may not be such a bad draw after all,” Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a report.

Grappling with severe credit crunch, massive protests against austerity measures and political transition, Greece continued to remain in the headlines.

Greece has already gulped down hundreds of billions of dollars — including $110-billion euro bailout package — in assistance from various sources including the euro zone members and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Other euro zone members, including Portugal and Ireland, too were saved from the brink with bailout plans. Euro area is a grouping of 17 countries that share common currency euro.

The financial instability across the region also saw change of guard at least in three nations — Greece, Italy and Spain. More interestingly, technocrats and economists rather than politicians are taking centre stage as seen in the case of Greece’s Lucas Papademos and Italy’s Mario Monti.

The persisting euro zone crisis not only caused cracks in the European unity, but has also hurt the growth trajectory of emerging nations such as India and China.

In the US, Democrats and Republicans sparred on the issue of raising debt ceiling beyond $14.3 trillion, a scenario that sent out worrying signals to the market.

The ultimate blow came with S&P stripping the US of its coveted ‘AAA’ credit rating with a downgrade in its sovereign creditworthiness score of the world’s largest economy.

Read More: http://www.kurat.com/links/business-line-industry-economy-economy-2011-a-year-of-debt-crises-downgrades?&stream=eurozone-crisis-0