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Developing countries rebel against the credit-rating agencies

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EARLIER this year, a crowd of patriotic Indian students bristled when Arvind Subramanian, the government’s chief economic adviser, showed them a slide with two charts. One showed India’s steady economic growth and flat debt-GDP ratio; the other China’s slowing growth and fast-rising debt. Yet India’s credit rating from S&P Global Ratings (formerly Standard and Poor’s), has been stuck at BBB-. China, on the other hand, was upgraded from A+ to AA- in 2010 even as its debt shot up. The slide was pithily titled “Poor Standards”.

Rating government debt is always controversial. And India v China is often a grudge match. But many emerging-market governments agree with Mr Subramanian, who has contrasted the rating agencies’ treatment of India with that of the rich world in the 2008 crisis, when they “closed the stable doors after the horses bolted”.

In frustration, the BRICS grouping—Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa—plans to set up an…Continue reading

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