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Amsterdam, Netherlands - Atradius, one of the leading global credit insurance companies anticipates an increase in insolvencies across most developed markets. The Eurozone led slowdown in global growth and the tight financing conditions make it more difficult for businesses to grow.
Uncertainty over the Eurozone sovereign debt crisis and development of the economy has increased tensions in financial markets, though the latter have eased since the ECB intervention of Euro 1 trillion.
A major issue is that credit conditions in advanced markets have been tight and have shown hardly any improvement since the financial crisis in 2008. The banking sector continues to consolidate its debts and seeks additional capital to comply with new and stricter regulations. This has created a challenging environment for households and firms, especially in the Eurozone, and, to a lesser extent, in the US.
Atradius expects the number of insolvencies to increase across most European markets as those of the US improve, as discussed in the April 2012 Atradius Economic Outlook [http://global.atradius.com/creditmanagementknowledge/publications/economic-research.html].
Increases are expected to be the highest in Southern Europe, with forecasts of double-digit growth in Italy and Greece. The insolvency situation is expected to deteriorate somewhat, even in Germany, despite its relatively benign economic conditions. Better news is coming from the United States. With the country’s moderate growth, Atradius projects a decrease in insolvencies. But the forecasted number of insolvencies over the year remains high from an historical perspective.
In general, insolvencies tend to track the business cycle, with economic growth below trend pushing up insolvency numbers. Therefore, there continue to be downside risks to this scenario.
Firstly, an escalation of the Eurozone crisis would hit firms and governments across the globe through financial and trade linkages. In accordance with our analysis in January, Atradius still expects the Eurozone to stay intact as the costs of a break-up would be extensive.
Secondly, the risk of a steep increase in the price of oil, as spare capacity is limited and unrest in the Middle East is high. While the dependence on oil is declining, a large price increase over a short period would increase retail prices and hurt consumer spending across the globe.
Atradius chief-economist John Lorie commented; “Whereas the US is moving on relatively well, in the Eurozone the sovereign debt crisis has moved from the financial markets to firms and households. As consumer confidence is low we see consumers unwilling to spend and banks unwilling to provide finance to firms in the Eurozone. Rates of insolvencies are likely to go up in those markets. In the US on the other hand, rates are likely to improve.”
The Atradius Group provides trade credit insurance, surety and collections services worldwide. With a presence through 160 offices in 45 countries, it has a market share of approximately 31% of the global trade credit insurance market. Atradius has access to credit information on 100 million companies worldwide and makes more than 20,000 trade credit limit decisions daily. Its products help protect companies throughout the world from payment risks associated with selling products and services on credit.