In September, Institutional Investor magazine did its most recent semi-annual survey of sovereign debt, analyzing the creditworthiness of 178 countries around the globe. Western Europe overall showed a significant decline in credit quality; but so, too, did the Middle East and North Africa. As of today, the countries in those regions that share both a dismal S&P rating and a negative S&P outlook include Greece, Italy, Portugal, Ireland, Egypt and Jordan.
The United States declined less dramatically, as did Asia. Institutional Investor's survey rated Vietnam as among Asia's worst credit risks, and it downgraded Japan, owing to worries about Japan's ongoing reactor disaster.
The only regions to rise in the magazine's ratings were Eastern Europe-Central Asia and Latin America-The Caribbean. Even so, some countries in those regions remain unattractive risks, including Belize, Jamaica, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina.