The Global Credit Outlook 2024 by S&P Global Ratings highlights how the end of cheap money represents a return to credit fundamentals and liquidity analysis in the face of a higher cost of debt, increased maturities, and slowing economic activity. We present some of the key take-aways for the mid-market.
- Borrowers across all asset classes will need to adjust to tighter financing conditions and softer economic growth. While long-term yields will likely peak around midyear, financing conditions will likely stay tight in real terms in 2024. Borrowers have reduced near-term maturities, but the share of speculative-grade debt coming due rises significantly in 2025, making 2024 a pivotal year. Defaults will likely rise further, to 5% in the U.S. and 3.75% in Europe, above their long-term historical trends.
- We expect additional credit deterioration in 2024, largely at the lower end of the ratings scale, where close to 40% of credits are at risk of downgrades. Sectors exposed to a decline in consumer spending are most vulnerable. Meanwhile, investment-grade credits should generally continue to show resilience despite some margin compression—with the exception of the real estate sector.
- The main risks that could derail our baseline expectations, leading to further credit deterioration, include persistent tight financing conditions amid entrenched inflation; a sharper-than-expected slowdown in global growth; elevated input-cost inflation and high energy prices that squeeze corporate profits and pressure governments’ fiscal balances; vulnerable commercial real estate; and amplifying geopolitical tensions.
- Looking ahead, heightened geopolitical risks, the need to accelerate the decarbonization of the economy to address the rise in climate-related risks, and the technology revolution will increasingly shape the future of credit.
Sources and further reading: Global Credit Outlook 2024: New Risks, New Playbook