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Greece an Emerging Market? That's Offensive: Pro

Dede Burlanni | Digital Vision | Getty Images

Although Greece is selling off its public assets to reduce its billions of dollars' worth of debt, reclassifying the country as an emerging market economy is "deeply offensive," according to one analyst.

"Greece is not an emerging markets country, because it is too rich and its financial system is too developed. Greece is simply a bad credit. The example of Greece illustrates a basic fundamental principle of investing that all countries are risky and all countries can become bad credits. Regardless of whether they are 'developed' or 'emerging,'" Jan Dehn, co-head of Research at Ashmore , a specialist Emerging Markets investment manager.

At the start of March, Greece was reclassified from a "developed" to an "emerging market" by Russell Investments, which manages $162.9 billion in assets and manages a global classification of countries ranked in terms of economic development.

(Read More: Greece Reclassified as an 'Emerging Market')

It said 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.

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

Dehn said that reclassification was "deeply offensive" and revealed "a profound lack of understanding of what it means to be 'emerging.'"

Greece's debt-to-GDP ratio is expected to hit 179 percent in 2013 and the latest economic figures showed that Greece's economy shrank 5.7 percent in the last three months of 2012 year-on-year. The Greek economy contracted 6.7 percent in the whole of 2012.

Calling Greece an emerging market economy "completely fails to distinguish between the processes whereby countries turn into bad credits – which can happen to all countries – and the processes of rapid economic and financial catch-up, which is a characteristic specific to emerging markets," Dehn said.

"Emerging Markets are today the powerhouses of the global economy, with far stronger fiscal balances, far lower levels of debt, far higher growth rates, and far larger stocks of foreign exchange reserves," Dehn wrote in a note on Tuesday.

(Read More: Could Europe's Crisis Be Over by End 2013?)

On Monday, the Greece's privatization body put 24 buildings belonging to the Ministries of Justice, Culture, Education and Media up for sale, including the country's police headquarters in Athens and a range of tax offices.

Greece initially hoped to raise 50 billion euros from its privatization plan, headed by the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund, by 2019. However, it has only raised 2 billion euros ($2.6 billion) since it started its program in 2010.

Contact Europe: Economy

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