A decade of deficits: Australia’s AAA rating on the rocks
In the last federal election, Australia’s AAA rating was a hot topic that was brought up by both sides of the political spectrum. Australia’s S&P rating was threatened last year, with many predicting it to fall to AA+ in 2017 or 2018. Over the last week, we’ve seen the AAA rating re-affirmed by the S&P but placed at a high-risk.
Citing a decade of deficits, the S&P has highlighted the deterioration of Australia’s financial position. If the Government isn’t able to return to surplus by the early 2020s, it will most likely lose its AAA rating and be demoted to AA+. Most investors don’t solely rely on these rating agencies when making investment decisions. S&P have made mistakes before, particularly a $2 trillion arithmetic error when reviewing the US financial position.
Though, S&P ratings almost have a larger impact on public perception of the economy. A demotion in S&P ratings will show that Australia isn’t so immune from a recession or default. We’ve avoided recession for almost three decades, and we have a generation that has never experienced the ferocity of a major recession.
In addition to this, the average Australian is stuck into a lot of debt. Household debt and mortgage debt are some of the highest in the world and housing prices have seemed to be inflated for the last decade and a half. If there is a major shift in our economic climate and many lose their jobs, these high mortgages may come back to haunt them.
This gives the S&P ratings a lot of leverage over the average Australian. Any sign of a recession or potential unemployment will see Australians quickly saving their money. This may be a self-fulfilling prophecy as we will see a subsequent decline in spending and potential unemployment as a result.
The Government really has to hit the next budget out the park, improve our financial position in the world, and ensure that we don’t see a major loss in employment. These things combined may pull us back into good standing. Australia is feeling exposed right now, and high home prices and mortgages are making the average Australian feel queasy too.