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Thursday, September 18, 2014  

Political unrest may not hurt Kuwait credit ratings: Moody’s
KUWAIT CITY Political unrest in Kuwait is unlikely to affect its strong credit fundamentals, ratings agency Moody’s said on Wednesday, maintaining the Gulf state’s Aa2 rating with a stable outlook.

“The recent escalation in political protests in Kuwait is not, in our view, likely to affect the government’s very strong credit fundamentals,” Moody’s Investors Services said in a report. “We consider that Kuwait’s Aa2 rating can tolerate a degree of political event risk,” it said.

The protests so far are not Arab Spring-type events, given that they are not calling for the overthrow of Kuwait’s ruling Al Sabah family, in power for over 250 years, but just the repeal of an amended electoral law, Moody’s said.  

“In our view, a credit-negative situation could only develop if there were a severe turn for the worse in Kuwait’s political and social stability that would paralyse government fiscal operations or undermine domestic financial system stability,” it said. “At this juncture, we consider such an outcome unlikely.”

More than 150 protesters and 24 policemen were hurt in three major opposition demonstrations over the past two weeks after the ruler unilaterally changed the electoral constituency law. The opposition claims the change is aimed at influencing the outcome of December 1 snap elections in the government’s favour. The opposition has decided to boycott the polls.

Moody’s said that Kuwait’s Al-Sabah ruling family is facing its “greatest political challenge yet,” but said social upheaval such as occurred in Egypt, Syria, Yemen or Libya remained very low. “However, despite the political gridlock, the country’s fiscal situation remains very robust. Kuwait, along with dynamic Qatar, have the lowest fiscal break-even oil prices in the Middle East, in the mid-$40/barrel range,” it said.

Moody’s estimated assets managed by Kuwait Investment Authority, the country’s sovereign wealth fund, at $350 billion and per capita income at close to $50,000.

Agencies
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