2023 Sovereign credit outlook negative due to effects of high food & energy prices: Moody’s

The high food and energy prices will curb economic growth and result in social tensions in 2023 and hence the outlook for sovereign creditworthiness is negative, said Moody’s Investors Service on Tuesday.

Credit-positive trends will be most evident for commodity producers — especially energy exporters — who will benefit from higher prices, while some other governments will also stand out for their broad resilience to the latest round of shocks, Moody’s added.

In a research report Moody’s said the ability of the governments to effectively respond to growing demands will vary with their fiscal and institutional capacity.

At the same time, tighter financial conditions and economic scarring will push some debt burdens to unsustainable levels, while rising borrowing costs will erode debt affordability.

The credit rating agency said Asia will outperform other regions with higher growth in China (4 per cent) than in 2022, given a gradual rebound in consumption, sustained public infrastructure spending and a broader recovery in the services sector.

The Moody’s forecast for other large Asian economies such as India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand will grow at or in excess of 4.5 per cent, as domestic consumption, investment and tourism return to normal.

Japan and Korea are among the world’s largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) importers, and high energy prices will keep inflation elevated, with tighter monetary policy in the latter, and slowing global demand dampening output, Moody’s added.

Default risks in these tough conditions are most elevated for frontier-market sovereigns that need to borrow large sums in 2023 and have low foreign-currency reserves coverage of their imports and debt financing needs.

“Risks to our baseline forecasts are also high, stemming from a potentially prolonged slowdown in China, a more extended energy crisis in Europe, a further escalation of the Russia-Ukraine military conflict, a longer period of aggressive monetary tightening in the US, and deteriorating China-US relations,” Moody’s said.

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