An alternative international ratings agency is what European governments would like to see in place soon to break the power of the US bellwethers. A German-conceived model has just completed a first test run.
Crisis-stricken eurozone countries don't have to bring up the rear when assessing their creditworthiness with a non-standard set of gauging parameters, Germany's Bertelsmann Foundation claimed on Tuesday while presenting the test-run results of its alternative international ratings agency.
The non-profit credit rating agency INCRA analyzed Brazil, Japan, France, Germany and Italy for test purposes, with the latter surprisingly taking third position in terms of long-term creditworthiness. Italy did so well "because of its financial crisis management capabilities," the Bertelsmann Foundation argued.
In scrutinizing the countries in question, INCRA applied standard macroeconomic indicators as well as a set of forward-looking factors such as a nation's reform endeavors and its willingness to carry out necessary investments.
Broadside at Moody's and Co.
Germanyexcelled among the nations examined due to its robust economy and labor market. But the study warned that the country must not rest on its laurels and tackle demographic issues in a more courageous way.
INCRA has yet to find the approval of the world's leading industrialized and emerging nations. It is to operate as a counterweight to the US' three heavyweights in the business (Moody's, Fitch and Standard & Poor's) which have been accused by European governments of having too much influence on the fate of financial markets in the euro area.
The alternative ratings agency would only be responsible for assessing the performance of nations and international organizations, and it would do so free of charge, said the head of the Bertelsmann Foundation, Aart de Geus. He added that running costs would have to be born by governments, foundations and private entrepreneurs.