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Correlation between Credit Ratings and Defaul Frequencies

Diane Vazza, a Managing Director at Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services, discusses the findings of the rating agency’s latest Annual Global Corporate Default Study and Rating Transitions.

The year to-date count of defaults by S&P-rated corporates now stands at 68 globally – well more than triple the 19 defaults that occurred during the same period in 2008. Meanwhile, by region, the US has maintained its lead, with 54 defaulted issuers so far this year.

Furthermore – as Standard & Poor’s latest Global Corporate Default Update, published 6th April 2009, also reports – 35% of defaults this year are outside of the US. This contrasts with 5% of defaults this time in 2008 – illustrating just how global the current economic and credit pressures have become.

Default rates in the spectulative- grade rating categories are well below the record levels seen in prior cycles.

In addition, Standard & Poor’s has also recently published its Annual Global Corporate Default Study and Rating Transitions for 2008. This study charts the dramatic deterioration in corporate credit quality that occurred in 2008, as well as detailing the year’s default occurrences which picked up sharply in each progressive quarter of the year, yielding a final annual tally of 125 defaults globally – a figure which contrasts starkly with the ultra-lows seen a year earlier.