• The concluding statement of the European Council meeting of March 24-25, 2011, addressing the terms under which EU sovereigns may borrow from the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) confirms our previously published expectations that (i) sovereign debt restructuring is a potential pre-condition to borrowing from the ESM, and (ii) senior unsecured government debt will be subordinated to ESM loans.
• Both features are, in our view, detrimental to the commercial creditors of EU sovereign ESM borrowers, and represent a major departure from the current European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) regime whereby sovereign EFSF loans rank pari passu with a borrowing sovereign's commercial debt.
• Given Portugal's weakened capital market access and its likely considerable external financing needs in the next few years, it is our view that Portugal will likely access the EFSF and thereafter the ESM.
• While we believe Portugal's public sector debt trajectory could start to decline in 2013, thereby creating the possibility that Portugal may be able to obtain ESM funding without being required to restructure its debt (based in part upon our reading of the "sustainable path" language in the EC's concluding statement), the issue of subordination remains.
• We are therefore lowering our sovereign credit ratings on Portugal to 'BBB-/A-3'.
• The negative outlook reflects our view that the macroeconomic environment could weaken beyond our current expectations and that a political impasse could undermine the effective implementation of Portugal's adjustment program, leading to non-negligible policy slippages.
ou seja, a S&P não só considera bastante provável que Portugal tenha de aceder à ajuda externa como pensa que essa ajuda se deverá prolongar para lá de 2013 altura em que o EFSF será susbstituído pelo ESM e a principal razão para a descida do rating para BBB- prende-se com os receios de reestruturação da dívida portuguesa que derivam, por um lado da eventual exigência dessa reestruturação para aceder ao futuro mecanismo e, por outro lado, de mesmo que tal não seja o caso os créditos que venham a ser concedidos via ESM terem preferência sobre os créditos pré-existentes o que implica um aumento do risco de crédito para os investidores privados.
Já agora saliento o que a S&P refere na parte final do texto, onde se diz que: "Portugal still faces sizable twin deficits and their reduction will stress policymakers' resolve in the face of what we believe will become an increasingly hostile public opinion. Risks of a challenging economic and financial environment could negatively affect asset quality and profitability in the Portuguese financial system, potentially triggering the need for capital support from the government" (meu sublinhado).