Home Ratingové hodnotenia Aktuálne platné ERA rates Hungary BBB, outlook Stable
ERA rates Hungary BBB, outlook Stable
Piatok, 30 November 2018

ERA issues the following unsolicited credit rating for Hungary.

The unsolicited credit rating assigned to Hungary stems from a strong economy, sound private sector finances, and above average governance indicators. The rating is restricted by high government debt load, high structural deficits, and low foreign reserves indicators.
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Rating components

Macroeconomic factors

Economic factors

High

Debt and current account sustainability factors

Moderate

Public finance factors

Low

Private finance factors

High

Foreign exchange stability factors

Low

Liquidity factors

Very high

Final assessment

Moderate

Forward-looking factors

Political and economic stability

High

Efficiency and reforms potential

High

Final assessment

High

Overall score

Moderate

Final rating

BBB

Macroeconomic factors of rating assessment

The Hungarian economy is growing above its potential. Government debt is declining, but it still remains elevated. Weaker public finances together with low foreign reserves are constraining the capacity to tackle potential headwinds.

Highest growth since mid-2000s:

The Hungarian economy is currently experiencing a period of strong growth. As a small open and export-oriented economy, it has benefited from global recovery in recent years. With global recovery losing momentum this year, domestic factors took over. Record labor force shortages led to an increase in wage growth from 6.2% in 2017 to more than 8% this year, the third highest in the EU. ERA expects the wage growth to moderate in the coming years, but it should still remain at above average levels and, thus, support household consumption. Investment is also experiencing a boom, mainly as a result of strong EU-funds absorption.

As a result, real GDP increased by 4.1% in 2017. ERA expects the GDP growth to increase even further in 2018 to 4.3%, the most since 2005, in light of strong private consumption and investment, before moderating closer to the medium-term potential growth estimated at around 3% in the coming years. In the medium-term, potential GDP growth will be supported by a smooth transfer of capital and technology within the EU, which should result in faster growth rates compared to western EU-countries. In the long-term, potential GDP growth is expected to decline due to below average R&D expenditure and negative demographics. Hungary has been experiencing population decline since the eighties and ERA expects this trend to continue.

GDP growth in Hungary and EU-28 (%)

hungary_fig1
Source: Eurostat, ERA


Debt to GDP falls, but remains elevated:

The government debt to GDP ratio is declining. It fell from above 80% at the beginning of the decade to below 75% in 2017. ERA expects this trend to continue in the coming years with debt to GDP falling below 70% in 2020. However, for a country categorized as an emerging economy, it is still elevated. Among the countries in the emerging and developing part of Europe, Hungary had the second-highest debt to GDP ratio in 2017 (after Croatia). In case of headwinds from inside or outside the economy, the increase of the debt to less-sustainable levels cannot be ruled out.

Especially, when the current decline in the debt to GDP ratio is driven by nominal GDP growth and declining borrowing costs and not by fiscal consolidation. On the contrary, the general government is running deficits above 2% during the height of the economic cycle (the EU-28 deficit for 2018 is projected at 0.7% GDP). ERA expects a structural deficit slightly below 4% in 2018, the highest in the EU.

Deficits would be even higher without transfers from the EU-budget, which are expected to be lower in the new EU-budgeting period starting in 2021. Moreover, Hungary has the highest share of government revenue to GDP among the Visegrad Group countries (Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia). In 2017, it reached almost 45%. Therefore, raising taxes, should it be necessary in the future, might prove to be more difficult.


Private sector indebtedness fell sharply:

Private sector finances are in sound shape. After increasing steadily for almost a decade, gross national savings stabilized at levels between 25% and 26% of GDP in recent years, which is well above the EU average (23,1%) as well as the Visegrad Group average (23,3%). After overcoming the issues related to mortgages denominated in Swiss francs in the aftermath of the financial crisis, household debt to GDP ratio experienced a very strong decline from its peak of 39.4% to 18.4% in Q2 2018, the second lowest level in the EU (after Romania). The indebtedness of private non-financial companies also fell sharply, from around 90% at the beginning of the decade, to 66.9% in Q2 2018, which is well below the EU average (96,1% in 2017). The NPL ratio was 4.2% in 2017, down from 7.4% in the previous year. In light of the declining indebtedness and NPL ratios of the private sector, ERA expects the banking sector to retain its solid profitability and capital adequacy in the medium-term.


Foreign reserves indicators are worsening:

Hungary has experienced a deterioration in foreign dependency indicators over the last several years. Foreign exchange reserves fell by more than a third since their all-time high in 2011. Currently, they account for less than 20% of GDP and cover only 23% of external debt and less than 2.5 months of imports. Aside from elevated levels of government debt, low reserves might also be a factor amplifying potential economic problems.

Foreign exchange reserves in months of imports and % of external debt

hungary_fig2

Source: Central Bank of Hungary, World Bank, ERA


Forward-looking factors of rating assessment

Governance indicators for Hungary are above average on the global scale, but the trend is negative.

Governance indicators are the worst in the region:

On the global scale, the governance indicators for Hungary are considered to be above average, but the trend is negative. They have been on the decline since the mid-2000s. The average of the five World Bank indicators monitored by ERA bottomed in 2016. Despite the slight increase in 2017, which can be attributed mainly to political stability/absence of violence and rule of law indicators, the composite indicator is still below the average of the Visegrad Group countries. Within its peer group, Hungary scored the worst in four of the five indicators. The control of corruption indicator was the lowest on record in 2017.

Average of World Governance Indicators (ERA score, 1-10):

hungary_fig3

Source: World Bank, ERA


Outlook: Stable

The outlook has been assigned based on expectations of a further gradual decline in the government debt to GDP ratio and macroeconomic stability in the EU.

The Stable outlook assumes that the rating will most likely stay unchanged within the 12-month horizon.

Key assumptions

• Debt to GDP ratio falling below 70% in the medium-term;

• Real GDP growth between 2.5% and 4% in the medium-term;

• Political stability in the EU.

Potential outlook or rating change factors

A positive rating action may be prompted by:

• Substantial decline in debt to GDP ratio below 60%;

• Substantial decline in structural deficit below 1.5% GDP;

• Substantial increase in foreign reserves;

• Material increase in governance indicators.

A negative rating action may be prompted by:

• Substantial increase in debt to GDP ratio above 90%;

• Substantial widening of fiscal deficit above 4% of GDP;

• Material decline in exports, above 10% year on year;

• Material decrease in governance indicators.

Appendix 1. Peer-analysis materials

General government debt/GDP (%)

hungary_fig4

Source: Eurostat

General government fiscal balance/GDP (%)

hungary_fig5Source: Eurostat


Appendix 2. Major sovereign indicators

Indicators

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018_F

2019_F

GDP, bln EUR

105.5

110.9

113.9

124.1

130

140

GDP growth rate, %

4.2

3.5

2.3

4.1

4.3

3.4

GDP per capita, ‘000 EUR

10.7

11.3

11.6

12.7

13.3

14.4

Population, mln

9.9

9.9

9.8

9.8

9.8

9.7

Unemployment, %

7.7

6.8

5.1

4.2

3.7

3.4

Labor force, mln

4.5

4.6

4.7

4.7

4.6

4.6

Personal income, ‘000 EUR;
(mean equalized net annual)

5.1

5.2

5.4

5.6

5.9

6.3

Consumer inflation, Dec/Dec, %

-0.9

0.9

1.9

2.1

3.5

3.3

Consumer inflation, year-average, %

-0.2

-0.1

0.4

2.4

2.9

3.3

Public debt to GDP, %

76.6

76.6

75.9

73.3

72.3

70.1

Wider public debt to GDP
(incl. quasi-government sector), %

92.5

92.7

90.7

87.0

85.0

81.9

External debt to GDP, %

114.8

107.6

97.1

84.6

81.0

79.0

M2/International Reserves (%, end-year)

1.6

1.9

2.7

3.1

3.2

3.5

Gross Domestic Investment to GDP, %

23.2

21.7

19.7

22.4

23.3

23.3

Loans to economy, bln EUR

165.5

157.3

158.8

150.1

155

157

National Fund, bln EUR

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

International reserves, bln EUR

34.6

30.3

24.4

23.4

24.7

24.7

Trade balance, bln EUR

6.7

9.0

11.4

9.4

7.5

7.0

Exports, bln EUR

92.5

98.7

102.2

109.5

114

121

Imports, bln EUR

85.8

89.7

90.8

100.1

106.5

114

Current account to GDP, %

1.5

3.5

6.0

3.2

1.8

1.1

Appendix 3. List of material data sources

International Monetary Fund

World Bank

Bank for International Settlements

Eurostat

Central Bank of Hungary

Hungarian Central Statistical Office


Regulatory disclosure

The unsolicited credit rating and outlook were issued in accordance with ERA methodology for sovereign entities in the version from July 4, 2018 (available at www.euroratings.co.uk, section Methodology). In the same section there is a rating scale including an explanation of the importance of each rating category and a default definition. Information on the rate of historical failure is available at www.cerep.esma.europa.eu, and the explanatory statement of the meaning of those default rates is available at www.euroratings.co.uk (Regulatory Framework/Disclosure). This rating is issued as an unsolicited rating, i.e., was not initiated by the rated entity or a related third party. The rated entity did not participate in the rating process and the information and documentation for its development was obtained from publicly available sources in accordance with ERA methodology. ERA did not have access to the rated entity’s internal documents. ERA, in the context of routine care, verified all sources entering the rating process. ERA considers the scope and quality of the information entering the analytical process to be sufficient to assign a credit rating. The disclosure of the unsolicited rating and outlook was preceded by the approval of the Rating Committee. No actual or potential conflicts of interest have arisen. Since July 30, 2012, ERA has been a registered credit rating agency according to Regulation (EC) No 1060/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of September 16, 2009, on credit rating agencies. The rated entity was notified on November 28, 2018, about the rating and after the notification there were no changes or amendments in the rating. This is the first release of the rating for distribution.

Download pdf

Hungary_Sovereign_Report.pdf

Approved by the Rating Committee:

Natalia Porokhova, Head of credit rating analysts

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