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Moody's Downgrade Punishes Ireland: Wilbur Ross

Wednesday, 13 Jul 2011 | 10:29 AM ET

Moody's is punishing the wrong EU member by downgrading Ireland, Wilbur Ross Jr., CEO of WL Ross & Co., told CNBC Wednesday.

In a telephone interview, Ross called Ireland the "one country that really has taken the medicine" by making harsh cuts in federal capital expenditures and civil service personnel, among other costs, and the Moody's downgrade makes it harder for the nation to access the public market.

Moody's Cuts Ireland to Junk
Ireland is the "one good student in the pool," says Wilbur Ross, Jr., WL Ross & Co. chairman/CEO, who continues to say Moody's is punishing Ireland at this point, making it harder for Ireland to access the public market.

Once a popular haven for U.S. business because of its low taxes and young, English-speaking workforce, Ireland has been "really facing up to the problem, and they don't need the structural reform of their labor markets and such that most of the other 'Club Med' countries need," he said.

Moody's cut Ireland's rating to junk, from BAA3 to BA1, and warned a second bailout might be needed less than a year after the country took a 67.5 billion euro (US$94 billion) package from the European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund because of Ireland's banking problems.

Moody's downgrade creates a self-fulfilling prophecy, he said.

"Here you have the one good student in the school doing the right thing and now Moody's downgrades on the theory that it can't access the public market," he said. If Moody's "downgrades enough people recklessly, nobody will be able to access the public markets in 2013. I think it's a ridiculous idea."

Ireland "will get through the crisis because it is a one-shot problem, admittedly a huge one, admittedly a lot of poor judgement, but it is an isolated event," said Ross.

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