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S&P Global Reports Record Number of Potential Downgrades

Nearly 80 banks all over the world and a number of prominent countries such as Australia, Chile, Mexico, and South Africa are facing potential credit deterioration because of the coronavirus, according to a new S&P Global Ratings report.

S&P Global has identified 1,287 potential credit downgrades around the world in its latest credit update, more than doubling its total in two months -- and even coming in higher than the previous record set in April 2009, during the financial crisis.

The ratings agency said that of the 550 new potential downgrades that emerged over the past month, some 90% were attributable to the coronavirus pandemic. The threat timeline for official downgrades ranges from 90 days (for entities under the CreditWatch designation) to two years (for entities with a negative outlook).

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S&P issued 492 credit downgrades in the first quarter, but 415 in just the first 28 days of the second quarter.

"We expect heavy credit erosion in coming months as issuers, especially those in the lower-rated spectrum come under heavy fire from poor earnings, continued difficulties in managing cost structures, and market volatility," S&P said.

Credit ratings are important because they show investors how likely a country or company is to repay their debt, and also includes any political risk. Additionally, a good sovereign credit rating is very important for developing countries that want to access the international bond markets.

Media and leisure firms, carmakers, and transportation companies saw the highest percentage of at-risk ratings, according to S&P's analysis, while hotels and entertainment firms had the highest percentage of CreditWatch negatives to potential downgrades.

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