(※ 무디스 신용등급 상향조정 발표문: 한글은 기획재정부 정리, 아래는 원문)
Moody's의 신용등급 상향조정 사유
□ 첫째, Moody’s는 동일 등급 국가에 비해 상대적으로 견조한 우리경제의 신용위험지표들을 조정요인으로 제시하였다.
ㅇ 한국경제는 향후 5년간 선진국에 비해 높은 성장세를 지속하고, 일인당 소득도 유럽 선진국 수준에 근접해나갈 것으로 Moody's는 전망하였다.
ㅇ 한국은 2010년이후 통합재정수지 흑자기조를 지속하고 있으며, Moody's는 앞으로 한국이 GDP대비 0.5% 내외의 재정흑자를 이어가고, GDP대비 정부부채비율도 40% 수준을 유지할 것으로 예상하였다.
ㅇ 한국은 2014년부터 순국제투자 잔액이 (+)로 전환되었으며, GDP대비 대외부채도 30%수준에 불과하고, 단기외채비중이 과거 50%수준에서 30%이하로 감소하는 등 대외건전성이 계속 개선되었다고 Moody's는 평가하였다.
□ 둘째, Moody's는 한국이 향후 구조개혁을 실행하고 경제․재정 회복력을 제고할 수 있는 제도적인 역량을 보유하고 있다는 점을 상향조정요인으로 제시하였다.
ㅇ 한국정부는 공공․노동․금융․교육에 걸친 구조개혁에 착수하였으며, 과거 한국의 성공적 구조개혁을 통한 외환위기 극복경험 등을 감안할 때, Moody's는 금번 개혁도 성공하고 잠재성장률 제고에 기여할 것으로 확신하였다.
ㅇ 또한, Moody's는 공공기관 부채관리가 정부의 당초 목표를 넘어서는 성과를 나타내고 있고, 공공연금의 개혁, 가계부채 구조개선 등 한국이 재정부문의 우발채무와 리스크요인 등을 적절히 관리하고 있다고 평가하였다.
□ 끝으로, 향후 등급조정과 관련하여서는, Moody's는 다음과 같은 상향요인과 하향요인을 제시하였다.
ㅇ 상향요인으로는 1) 구조개혁의 조속한 실행 또는 대상 확대, 2) 비금융 공기업 운영효율성 제고 및 부채감축의 가속화를 제시하였으며,
ㅇ 하향요인으로 1) 현재 추진중인 구조개혁의 후퇴 및 장기 성장전망의 악화, 2) 공기업을 포함한 정부재정의 악화, 그리고 3) 지정학적 리스크 고조를 제시하였다.
FIRST DRIVER: KOREA’S CREDIT METRICS WILL REMAIN STRONG AND RESILIENT COMPARED TO RATING PEERS.
Korea’s economic and fiscal strength compare strongly to peers, and Moody’s expects that to remain the case over the rating horizon, even against a backdrop of weak external demand. The outlook for Korea’s economic growth and government finances is more stable and predictable than China’s (Aa3 stable), and stronger than for Aa-rated euro area sovereigns.
Moody’s notes that challenges exist to Korea’s export-dependent growth model, mainly in the form of China’s economic rebalancing and the weaker outlook for global trade. Measures to counter the recent increase in Korean household debt levels to more than 80% of GDP could in Moody’s view also weigh on growth in 2016. And over the long term, rapid ageing – Korea’s working-age population will peak in 2016 – alongside an immature social security framework poses risks to growth and carries fiscal costs.
However, even based on Moody’s comparatively conservative forecasts, which project only a gradual return to trend growth of around 3% over the next five years, Korea will grow faster than the IMF-estimated average for advanced economies. Per-capita incomes will also continue to converge with those of advanced economies in Europe.
The Korean government has maintained a prudent fiscal stance, resulting in an average fiscal surplus of 1.1% of GDP between 2010 and 2014, including the social security funds balance. That compares to average deficits for the non-oil producing Aa-rated median of 1.3% of GDP over the same period, illustrating the resilience of the Korean government’s financial metrics to adverse shock scenarios. Moody’s expects Korea to continue to post small fiscal surpluses of around 0.5% of GDP over the rating horizon and general government debt to remain stable at around 40% of GDP. That is in line with the median for non-oil producing Aa-rated sovereigns, and significantly lower than the levels seen in the UK (Aa1 stable), France (Aa2 stable) or Belgium (Aa3 stable).
Korea’s external vulnerabilities continue to diminish. This is reflected in the continued rise in the country’s first-ever net asset international investment position in 2014 at 5.8% of GDP. The position improved further in 2015, to a preliminary $191.7 billion as of September, equivalent to about 14% of our estimate for 2015 nominal GDP. That compares to net liability positions of 25% of GDP in the UK and about 20% in France. Korea’s total external debt, at 30% of GDP in 2014, is at the lower end of its peer group, and the proportion of short-term external debt has fallen significantly, to less than 30% of total external debt from around 50% in 2006 and 2007. Relatively low levels of non-resident holdings of government debt, at less than 15% of the total, limit the direct exposure of the government’s funding profile to global financial market volatility.
Together, these characteristics would provide a strong buffer in the event of an unexpected domestic or external shock and suggest rating stability even in the face of a rapidly ageing population.
SECOND DRIVER: KOREA’S VERY HIGH INSTITUTIONAL STRENGTH WILL SUPPORT CONTINUED IMPLEMENTATION OF STRUCTURAL REFORMS, FURTHER PROMOTING ECONOMIC AND FISCAL RESILIENCY
Korea’s very high degree of institutional strength is supported by a bureaucratic system that is both consistent in policy formulation and effective in its implementation. Korea has a strong track record of successfully implementing reforms, such as investment policies following the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997/98. Korea’s scores for government effectiveness in the Worldwide Governance Indicators have been on an upward trend since the mid-2000s.
The current administration has started to implement a comprehensive reform program, encompassing the public sector, labor market, financial system and education sector. Plans to reduce labor market duality and the regulatory burden in goods and services sectors, increase employment opportunities for the youth and female labor force participation, together with the further advancement of bilateral and multilateral free-trade agreements will help to maintain competitiveness. While the program is still in its early stages, the government’s track record in implementing structural reforms gives Moody’s confidence that the broad objectives of the program will be achieved, sustaining and enhancing potential growth. The OECD expects Korea’s economic reforms to increase the level of GDP by 1.3% over the next five years and by 2.5% over the next 10 years, equivalent to a rise in the annual growth rate by around 0.25 percentage points, compared to a non-reform scenario.
Korea is successfully containing contingent fiscal liabilities and financial system external vulnerabilities. Stepped up oversight by the Ministry of Strategy and Finance and National Assembly has improved management of government-related institutions (GRIs). Recently, these efforts have started to gain traction in reducing the debt burden of these entities, which is equivalent to about 30% of GDP. In fact, over the past two years, the government has outperformed its own goals and reduced the GRI debt-to-equity ratio faster than planned. Under the current plan for 2015 to 2019, the debt for 39 public institutions would fall to 197% of equity by the end of this year, below an original target of 200% by the end of 2017.
In addition, public sector pension reform will support Korea’s very high fiscal strength, while measures to alter the structure and limiting the increase in high household debt will mitigate risks from this area.
WHAT COULD MOVE THE RATING UP / DOWN
The stable rating outlook signals that Moody’s views Korea’s credit strengths and challenges as balanced. Nevertheless, factors that could lead to a positive rating action are:
1. Faster implementation and/or widening of the scope of structural reforms which would lift real GDP growth more rapidly and on a sustainable basis;
2. Further acceleration in the operational efficiency and reduction in the debt of non-financial state owned corporations, indicating effective management of contingent liabilities.
Factors that could lead to a negative rating action:
1. A backtracking in ongoing structural reforms and deterioration of Korea’s long-term growth prospects;
2. A deterioration in the government finances, including crystallization of GRI debt or other contingent liabilities on the government’s balance sheet;
3. A heightening in geopolitical risks.