Netherlands Regains Top Rating at S&P on Economic Recovery

  • Country's future growth prospects stronger than expected: S&P
  • Finance minister says rating upgrade is result of `hard work'

The Netherlands is back in the top league of best-rated countries in the euro area after Standard and Poor’s re-awarded an AAA rating two years after taking it away.

“The economic recovery in the Netherlands is, and future growth prospects are, stronger than we had previously expected,” S&P said in a statement on Friday. The Dutch rating previously stood at AA+ with a positive outlook.

The Netherlands lost its highest ranking at S&P’s in 2013 due to weaker growth prospects, while the nation maintained top grades at Fitch and Moody’s. Germany and Luxembourg are the only other euro-area nations to have a perfect score from all three major rating companies. Still, investors regularly shrug off announcements of this kind, reflecting a shift from reliance on ratings agencies to a focus on in-house analysis.

The upgrade at S&P is the “result of hard work to strengthen the Dutch economy and bring the budget in order,” Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem said on Friday. “The assessment confirms that the Netherlands is a sound financial partner, and also is a vote of confidence in the strong, competitive and stable Dutch economy.”

The country returned to economic growth in 2014 after the Netherlands was hit by a housing slump triggered by the global financial crisis. It’s set to grow 2 percent this year and 2.4 percent in 2016, according to a September prediction from the Dutch central planning agency.

“If you look at structural issues, the Netherlands is still very strong, very competitive,”  Jochen Moebert an economist at Deutsche Bank AG in Frankfurt said in an interview before the S&P announcement. “I think it’s also a strong benefit that they have a government that is pro-active in implementing policies.”

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