Moody's Investors Service downgraded some of the world’s largest banks — lowering the crediting ratings of 15 financial institutions by one to three notches — The Associated Press reported June 22. The ratings agency said that the banks’ long-term prospects for profitability and growth were diminishing.
Bank of America, Barclays, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley were among the downgraded banks.
Moody’s Global Banking Managing Director Greg Bauer said in a statement that the banks “have significant exposure to the volatility and risk of outsized losses inherent to capital markets activities,” AP reported.
The downgrades mean Moody’s is becoming more concerned about the ability of the banks to repay debts. As a result of a downgrade, it typically becomes more costly for a bank to raise money by selling its debt, and investors tend to demand higher interest rates for riskier debt. However, with rates currently hovering near historic lows, the downgrades may not dramatically affect the cost of funding.
Although the struggling banks are major international players in the extremely volatile stock and bond markets, Washington, D.C.-based banking consultant Bert Ely noted that the stock market is positioned well for any negative impact from the ratings downgrades. In addition, Bauer said that some of the institutions have buffers in place that are designed to help them during a crisis.
The downgrades come as markets around the world continue to struggle and investors fear that the global economy could be heading for another slump.