Corporate credit trends point to a growing divide between winners and losers that will likely drive a K-shaped recovery for the global economy, S&P Global Ratings says.
In a new report, the rating agency said that there’s an increasing divergence in credit metrics, with some sectors hardly feeling any impact from the pandemic and others suffering mightily.
Sectors that are holding up well include tech, consumer staples, homebuilders and retail essentials (such as groceries), S&P said, while industries such as airlines and hotels are experiencing credit damage that “will go well into 2023.”
Another key point of divergence is between richer countries that have the monetary and fiscal firepower to help their economies absorb the effects of the pandemic and poorer countries that aren’t equipped to do the same.
“Macroeconomic and credit trends point to a widening gap in credit risks across regions and industries in the year to come,” S&P said.
Against this backdrop, S&P forecasts that the speculative-grade corporate default rate will double to 12.5% in the U.S. by June next year, and will more than double to 8.5% from 3.8% in Europe.
The rating agency also noted that credit downgrades have slowed, but negative outlooks are at “unprecedented highs,” indicating that more rating actions are likely ahead.
“Banks can absorb the shock generally, but recovery will be slow and uneven,” S&P said.
There are also numerous risks to the global outlook, the rating agency said, including renewed lockdown measures, corporate solvency, large government debt loads and weak emerging markets, along with rising geopolitical tensions and mounting ESG risks.
The report also warned that the development of an effective Covid-19 vaccine “is no magic switch.”
Even if a vaccine is approved soon, it will take time to manufacture and distribute billions of doses — not to mention overcoming objections to vaccination.
“Next year will more likely be a continuum on the health front, albeit with lower mortality rates, rather than a ‘before’ and ‘after’,” S&P said.