Greece Reclassified as an 'Emerging Market'

Monday, 4 Mar 2013 | 2:08 AM ET
A man eats food donated  by the Greek church in central Athens.
Aris Messinis | AFP |Getty Images
A man eats food donated by the Greek church in central Athens.

Greece has been reclassified from a "developed" to an "emerging market" by a major U.S.-based fund manager.

Russell Investments, which manages $162.9 billion in assets, said on Friday that Greece had been a global concern since its debt levels reached unsustainable levels in 2009 and no longer met "macro- and operational risk criteria" for developed market status.

"It's a big statement…and obviously a slap in the face for Greece ," Jerry Webman, chief economist at OppenheimerFunds told CNBC on Monday, though he said the impact on investors would be small.

"If you're tied to an index it matters,but if you're thinking substantively about whether a Greek company is a good investment or not, to me it's noise," he told CNBC Europe's "Squawk Box."

Russell Investments said that while reclassifications are rare, they do occur if a country no longer meets the criteria for its current classification. "It takes three years of sustained changes in economic criteria for a country to be reclassified," the firm said in a statement on Friday.

The Athens stock market has rallied 32 percent over the past year but it is still down 81 percent from its peak in October 2007.

"Russell's methodology requires developed markets, in general, to be the least risky and most efficient in which to trade, with emerging and frontier markets progressively more risky and less efficient along the spectrum."

(Read More: Entrepreneurs Find Silver Linings in Greece)

On Monday, the troika of international lenders returned to Greece to assess the country's progress on economic reforms that were required in its bailout terms, before further aid is released. Greece committed to implementing new austerity measures amounting to 11 billion euros in 2013 in order to receive more aid.

(Read More: Greece Faces Bailout Review, Plays Down Public Sector Losses)

The country has undergone a radical overhaul of its budget, implementing tax reforms and public sector cuts to reduce its debt-to-GDP ratio, which is expected to reach 179 percent in 2013.


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