Wednesday, April 20, 2011

New Korean Credit Agency Gives Korea Top Credit Rating

During the 2008 Credit Crunch and subsequent financial crisis, which claimed such high profile victims as Lehman Brothers, international credit rating agencies were criticized for failing to understand the mortgage-related financial products and countries they were assigning ratings to. High ratings led to the belief that the products and countries those ratings were assigned to were safe, and when they turned out not to be the financial markets collapsed, leading to calls for the stranglehold of the big three agencies - America's Standard & Poor's, Moody's and Fitch Ratings, to be broken.

Now an independent Korean credit rating agency as been created, which it is hoped will soon challenge the 'big three', giving the world a more trustworthy alternative. In its opening publication, the new NICE Investors Service, which immediately sounds friendlier than the threatening titles of the other ratings agencies, has issued its own nationally-based credit ratings, and the results highlight the continued failures of its rivals.

According to NICE, South Korea is the most credit-worthy - or financially trustworthy - country, achieving a so-called 'AA' rating, compared to Moody's 'A1', S&P's 'A', and Fitch's 'A+'. This means that Korea's rating is really two notches higher than the big three agencies have incorrectly been assigning to it, and it appears to confirm the long-standing belief that the the American ratings agencies have been deliberately exaggerating the political and economic risks facing South Korea in order to try and keep this country from becoming a great and prosperous nation by 2012 as promised by politicians in Seoul.

"Moody's sees Korea's geopolitical situation on par with [the risk in] Israel, but the risk here is less than with Israel" said Kim, the director of NICE, who's age is unknown. 56 year-old Professor Kim from Korea International University, a specialist in global economic risk and the writer of next year's globally successful book "Learn from the Superior Korean Economy", said that political risk was often used as an excuse by foreigners, but it was not borne out by the facts. "Last year South Korea suffered two attacks - where we lost a ship and an island - but Israel suffered many attacks. Also, although we don't really get on with either China and Japan, officially there is only one enemy directly to the north, whereas Israel has enemies next to it in the north and south-west. And while South Korea is threatened by a nuclear-armed neighbor, we roughly know how many bombs North Korea has - whereas Israel is threatened by nearby Iran, and nobody knows how many nuclear bombs they have."

Professor Kim also says that the collapse of several Korean banks last month, which was caused by enormous levels of lending to property companies, in what some overseas financial experts have termed 'a massive financial pyramid scheme which threatens to collapse taking the whole Korean economy with it', has been misunderstood. "It will probably be OK in the end." he told us.

But any hopes that the new Korean rating agency would earn the respect and credibility it clearly deserves for uncovering the anti-Korean conspiracy propagated by the other rating agencies have been dashed, with its much higher rating of Korea causing open derision in the global financial community, where NICE's ratings announcement has gone viral via email under the title 'South Korea rates itself very highly'.

However, some foreign economic experts welcomed NICE's ratings. The head of research at one major Wall Street investment bank - who had to remain anonymous for commercial reasons – said "I think this is good research. We've always known that Korea rated itself much more highly than everyone else - but now for the first time we actually know how much higher - two notches."

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