Ratings agencies have not been kind to European countries
as they struggle with massive national debt
Few doubt that US ratings agencies contributed greatly to the global financial crisis. Europe is now worried that the euro could also fall victim to credit downgrades — and is exploring the possibility of creating its own ratings agency.
The rating agencies assess and value the credit-worthiness, or ability to pay back a loan, of companies, banks and states. In doing so, the agencies publish ratings as well as assessments of business sectors and management reviews. The most influential rating agencies are Standard & Poor’s (S&P), Moody’s and Fitch, which are known as the “big three.”