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Greek debt crisis: Fitch, S&P downgrade rating for 4 national banks

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Fitch Ratings, one of the internationally recognized statistical agencies downgraded the ratings on four major Greek banks to “restricted default” on Monday.

The decision comes after the government ordered commercial banks to close for a week and established capital controls.

The four banks hit by the downgrade, already rated as CCC or “highly speculative”, were National Bank of Greece, Piraeus Bank, Eurobank Ergasias and Alpha Bank.

According to Fitch, the capital controls, including restrictions on withdrawals by customers, amounted to a restricted default “because the deposit restrictions affect a material part of the banks’ primary obligations.”

The banks’ “viability ratings” — which weigh the banks’ intrinsic creditworthiness — were also downgraded to a bottom-level “f” or “fail”.

“The ratings reflect exceptionally high levels of credit risk, because of the imposition of capital controls as well as poor recovery prospects in the event of the default on senior debt obligations,” said Fitch.

The banks are dependent on the European Central Bank for liquidity and the ECB decision on Sunday not to increase the liquidity due to government action reflects Fitch’s view that “these banks have failed and would have defaulted had capital controls not been imposed”.

Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services also lowered its sovereign rating on Greece to ‘CCC minus’ from ‘CCC’, saying the probability of Greece exiting the eurozone was now about 50 per cent.

Meanwhile, Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras made a reference that his country would not make a key debt payment due to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday.

“(How) is it possible the creditors are waiting for the IMF payment while our banks are being suffocated?” he asked during an interview on ERT television on the eve of the payment deadline.

“Once they decide to stop the suffocation, they will be paid”, the Prime Minister further responded.

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IMF: Empowering Women Is Smart Economics

IMF says, Getting more women into formal workforce is priority for India

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Ken Kang
Ken Kang. IANS

India must focus as a priority on ensuring that more women work in the formal sector as it continues with labour reforms, according to Ken Kang, the deputy director in International Monetary Fund (IMF) Asia Pacific Department.

While “in recent years India has made very impressive progress in reforms,” he said that “looking ahead there are important policy priorities” and listed three among them.

“One, is to continue improvements in product and labour market reforms with a focus on increasing formal female labour participation to improve the business environment, and reduce complex regulations, but also to address supply bottlenecks, particularly in the agricultural sector and distribution networks,” Kang said at a news conference on Friday in Washington.

As one of India’s major reform achievements, he mentioned the “introduction of flexible inflation targeting and of a statutory monetary policy which has helped to strengthen the monetary policy framework.”

Working woman
Working woman. Pixabay

The Reserve Bank of India Act was amended in 2016, to provide for a Monetary Policy Committee that decides on the interest rate required for achieving the inflation target set by the government in consultation with the bank.

The other achievements include the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the “major recapitalisation plan for the public-sector banks in order to accelerate the work out of nonperforming loans, as well as made some important legal improvements through a new insolvency and bankruptcy law,” Kang said.

“We expect and hope that the reform momentum continues,” he added.

Also Read: Newly Developed Tool to Battle HIV in Women

“We are not saying that India’s structural reform speed will slow down because of elections,” Changyong Rhee, the IMF director of the Asia Pacific Department said.

“What we are saying is that the growth momentum and the structural reform momentum should continue despite the election period. So there is something misquoted,” he added.

On Thursday, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde had said at a news conference on Thursday, according to the IMF transcript: “We have seen and we are seeing — I am not sure that we will be seeing in the next few months given the elections that are coming up — major reforms that we had recommended and advocated for a long time.”  IANS

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