WASHINGTON Feb 1 Moody's Investors Service
downgraded a record $311 billion public finance debt in 2012 due
to economic and budget stresses, the rating agency said on
Friday, adding that it expects the pace of downgrades to slow
"The negative rating trend throughout the year reflects
ongoing lackluster economic and industry conditions, stressed
budgetary and reserve positions, challenging debt structures,
and elevated pension funding pressures," it said in a special
report. "For 2013, we expect an overall reduced pace of
downgrades as economic recovery continues, and the housing
sector begins to strengthen."
In comparison, the agency only upgraded the ratings on $24
billion of bonds. The number of downgrades rose 60 percent from
2011, as did the number of rating changes. The 7.2 percent of
the 14,000 issuers Moody's rates were either upgraded or
downgraded in 2012, double the 3.6 percent in 2011.