Eurozone crisis: The view from credit-rating agency Fitch

It's not often that any of the ratings agencies give interviews, but rightly or wrongly, their views hold huge sway around the world. They have embarrassed politicians with their judgements, even the President of the United States, and undermined the reputations of institutions with their estimations of their strengths and weaknesses.

There is mounting pressure in the Eurozone with calls to stem the crisis Credit: Reuters

It is worth saying that their own record is not without fault. But you only need to follow the remarks of Britain's own Chancellor George Osborne for a few months to see how seriously their views are taken.

Laura Kuenssberg with a Managing Director of Fitch, Bridget Gandy Credit: ITV News

This afternoon I spoke at length to a Managing Director of Fitch, in their gleaming glass building in London's Canary Wharf. Fitch spends much of its time calculating the risk to countries round the world from economic and political factors. What was clear from Fitch this afternoon was that it is the lack of political action that is an enormous risk in itself.

Far from Spanish politicians giving a short interview here, or Angela Merkel and David Cameron giving some brief remarks there, Bridget Gandy from Fitch believes it is time for nothing less than the massive G20 style intervention that took place after the crash of Lehman Brothers.

In her view, it is only that kind of political commitment that will calm things down. She told me there are no strong political leaders involved in the situation at the moment and this was holding back any potential solutions. "Remember what happened post Lehman?" she said:

What stopped the panic in the markets was politicians in every country saying they were going to support the banks. That wasn't a popular statement to make in terms of public and it certainly wasn't popular in terms of the money that went into the banks. But that is what is needed.

Fitch is a major credit-rating agency based in Europe Credit: ITV News

Is she clear that is exactly what is needed now? 'Yes'. She describes what is going wrong in the Eurozone as a spiral that is getting worse.

A description of being stuck in a loop that is going round and round is a good one... but what is happening in this loop is that it is actually going inwards... it's spiralling in terms of the size of the economy and the ability of the economies to grow throughout Europe and that does include the UK... there is not going to be a magic wand and magic dust and suddenly everything is fine and the crisis is resolved...we've got a long hard slog to get through this.

And the reasons she believes politicians have been so slow to deal with it is because:

They can't make a very strong decision about putting a lot of taxpayers money into other countries just because that is not going to be palatable for the national electorate and we are in a constant electoral cycle...so the politicians are always trying to pamper to the people and rightly so.

On the Eurozone's most pressing problem, Spain, she believes the Spanish government's attempt to get money for their banks directly from EU funds will come to naught and she says:

Spanish politicians are playing off against German politicians in terms of asking the funds to come directly to the banks and leave the government out of it... but the rules say the government will have to borrow the money to put into the banks and that is the way I think it will happen.

She warns with the Greek election looming too, action has to be taken or there is a very real risk of other countries like Ireland and Portugal being dragged into this before the summer.

She told me, politicians "need to act now or in the next couple of weeks...just to make sure that the confidence is there in the markets that other countries aren't going to get into trouble as well."

She has some words of reassurance, rare these days, on the direct risks to UK banks, saying they are in a much better place to deal with a big crisis than in 2008, and they would be able to cope with the losses. But the indirect risks from the uncertainty around Spain and the looming Greek election are potentially very great.

Fitch believes the Euro will muddle through but she told me:

If things escalate and everyone's fear is you start getting deposit runs.. and the policy makers don't come out with a robust response to anything that could actually result in a very widescale crisis. Economic growth would slow down and you'd get a general panic but nobody wants that to happen.

You can watch her remarks in full below.

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