At a conference in London Tuesday, Fitch's head of sovereigns said that developed countries, particularly European ones, faced unfavorable debt dynamics despite low funding costs.
James McCormack highlighted that real gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the U.K., France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece and Canada was lower than the real effective interest rate, posing challenges to repayment of debt. Meanwhile, Japan, the U.S., France, Spain and the U.K. have primary deficits (defined as the fiscal deficit, which is the difference between government revenue and expenditure, minus interest payments).
Among the challenges facing Europe included "austerity fatigue," euroskepticism (criticism of the European Union or membership of the euro zone), high levels of migration and security concerns, McCormack said.
The U.K., meanwhile, faced a weaker growth outlook and prolonged legal and regulatory uncertainty after its vote to leave the European Union in June. Fitch downgraded the country to AA with negative outlook from AA+ immediately after the referendum.
"It is very clear that the U.K. government has done no effective contingency planning for Brexit," Ed Parker, Fitch's head of Europe, Middle East and Africa sovereigns, said at the conference.