Greek shakes, Ireland trembles

[caption id="attachment_71690" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="Even after thousands of years of wear and tear, the Parthenon is looking a lot sturdier than the Greek economy right now."]


Should Greece leave the eurozone - and the possibility has been looming ever larger in recent days - Ireland could be facing another credit downgrade, this according to the ratings agency Fitch.

Fitch, according to reports, has put the whole of the 17 nation euro zone on notice that were Greece to leave the currency bloc, the remaining countries could find their sovereign ratings at risk.

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The countries most at risk, stated the agency, are France, Italy, Spain, Cyprus, Portugal, Slovenia, Belgium and Ireland.

Fitch said it was likely to put all euro area ratings on negative watch if Greece were to leave and that those countries which currently have a negative outlook on their ratings would be at most immediate risk of a downgrade.

"In the event of Greece leaving (the euro), either as a result of the current political crisis, or at a later date as the economy fails to stabilize, Fitch would likely place the sovereign ratings of all the remaining euro area member states on Rating Watch Negative as it re-assessed the systemic and country-specific implications of a Greek exit," Fitch said in a statement.

The agency, whose decisions along with those of Moody's and Standard & Poor's help set the cost of borrowing by governments, said the extent of any downgrades would depend on how the euro zone reacted to Greece quitting the single currency.

Not surprisingly, Irish finance minister Michael Noonan would prefer to see Greece remain in the eurozone.

"I would like Greece to stay in the euro," Noonan said in Brussels Monday ahead of a meeting of euro zone finance ministers.

"It's very important that the euro zone stays intact and that the many countries that want to join the euro will have the stabilization that's necessary when they want to join. I would like to see Greece staying in the euro and strengthening its economy,"the Irish Times reported the minister as saying.