BlackRock Warns Australia at Real Risk of Losing AAA Debt Rating

  • Politics may hinder meaningful fiscal reform, Miller says
  • S&P cut Australia’s outlook to negative from stable on July 7

Australia may lose its coveted ‘AAA’ rating by S&P Global Ratings as a narrow election win by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and potentially fractious senate hinder government measures to rein in the nation’s budget deficit, according to Stephen Miller, BlackRock Inc.’s head of fixed income for the country.

“There’s a real risk,” Miller told journalists in Sydney. “I think the message from S&P was this: you’ve had your foot in the sand for a long time, your foot’s probably on the line now. If you don’t get your foot off the line in, let’s call it in six to 12 months, the balance of probability is that you’ll be downgraded.”

S&P lowered Australia’s AAA rating outlook to negative from stable on July 7, when the ratings company said the election win wasn’t strong enough to allow for forceful fiscal policy measures to curb budget deficits. The outlook of the nation’s four largest banks, which number among Australia’s biggest listed companies, was immediately reduced by S&P because their credit scores benefit from government support.

The narrow Coalition majority means there could be a "potentially more fractious senate,” Miller said. “The cocktail is not one that I would have thought is conducive to any meaningful fiscal reform.”