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NTMA: 'Moody's rating of Ireland is side-lining Asian investors'

The head of the NTMA John Corrigan said Ireland will need to engage with the markets in 2014 to pre-fund for the following year.

John Corrigan
John Corrigan
Image: Photocall Ireland

THE HEAD OF the National Treasury Management Agency John Corrigan said he has seen a greater diversity of people looking to invest in Ireland, with a lot of interest being shown by European insurance companies.

However, he said that Moody’s credit rating agency’s sub-level rating of Ireland is side-lining Asian investors.

Speaking on RTE’s This Week radio programme, he said the market is looking for the debt to be stabilised and keeping an eye on the credit rating agencies is a part of that.


He said if Moody’s were to move on their rating it would be “very significant”. He said that a shift down in yields would mean Ireland would get a better price for our debt.

If grading went up it would mean there are more buyers and investors, meaning a higher demand for Irish bonds and a lower price for our debt, he said.

Corrigan said Moody’s concerns have been largely about “systemic issues in Europe,” adding, “they state that it is nothing personal to Ireland”. He said there is evidence that they are softening their Euro-skepticism.

Bailout exit

When asked what role the NTMA had in this week’s bailout process exit, he said they provided feedback to the Minister for Finance about what to expect from the markets.

“We in the NTMA are very cautious people as we have to manage big risk,” he said, adding that the NTMA would have engaged with market after it became public about the possibility of an emergency credit line being issued.

“We felt it was safe to air issue with the market and the markets take on it was quite relaxed,” said Corrigan.

He added that Ireland’s decision not to apply for credit line following the bailout exist doesn’t rule out OMT benefits.

Speaking about the markets he said:

We are fully funded to the middle of the first quarter of 2015, but we would be engaging with the market in 2014 by way of pre-funding for the following year.

The timing is very important in terms of the annual servicing of the debt, he said.

Corrigan said there is a need to return to a regular programme of issuance, adding they are looking at a programme options for next year, and “we hope to make announcement on the capital markets in early January,” he said.

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