February 1, 2002 - JoongAngIlbo: Careful, Moody's credit raters sending guys who know Korea

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By Admin1 (admin) on Tuesday, April 23, 2002 - 7:47 pm: Edit Post

Careful, Moody's credit raters sending guys who know Korea

Read and comment on this story from the Korean newspaper JoongAngIlbo about RPCV Thomas Byrne who served in the Peace Corps in Korea and now is a vice President at Moody's and will lead the delegation that will evaluate Korea's credit rating at:

Careful, Moody's credit raters sending guys who know Korea *

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Careful, Moody's credit raters sending guys who know Korea

by Cheong Chul-gun February 01, 2002

"It is wearisome because they are too familiar with Korea," said a Finance Ministry official about planned visits by representatives of Moody's Investors Service.

Ministry officials are on high alert for the visit scheduled on Feb. 25. This is partly because the U.S.-based Moody's Investors Service has been stricter than other credit agencies, and some of the representatives are said to have resided in Korea before and to be well aware of Korea's economic situations and problems.

Thomas J. Byrne, vice president and senior analyst at Moody's sovereign risk unit, will lead the delegation. He lived in Korea for two years in 1970s as a member of the Peace Corps. Brian Oak, a Korean-American and senior analyst in the banking unit, speaks fluent Korean and worked for the Finance Ministry as an English editor and translator in 1992 and 1993.

Their familiarity with Korea may help the country receive a high sovereign credit rating, but ministry officials think that since they are familiar with Korea's problems, it would also be hard to sway them.

Mr. Byrne is said to have a history as a tough rater. Before the 1997 financial crisis, he downgraded Korea's rating while other credit rating agencies upgraded it. Mr. Oak submitted a pessimistic report on the Korean economy two years ago, saying that Korea's reform was still far from complete, even though its economy was on the rise.

Nonetheless, the ministry forecasts that Moody's is highly likely to upgrade Korea's sovereign credit rating. Its economy is in a more favorable condition than those of other countries, and domestic banks' performance has improved.

Fitch IBCA, a London-based credit rating agency, adjusted Korea's sovereign rating to BBB+ in March 2001, and the U.S-based Standard & Poor's followed suit in November, but Moody's has kept the rating one grade lower, at Baa2, since December 1999.

"The ministry will thoroughly prepare to effectively explain Korea's reform efforts and accomplishments," said the ministry official.

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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; RPCVs in the news; COS - Korea



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