The oil price rout has taken its latest victim – Azerbaijan, which saw its credit rating downgraded to junk status by Standard & Poor’s.
The ratings agency said it expects the oil-dependent country’s economy to contract in 2016 as exports decline, while consumption will fall due to the devaluaton of the manat, its crisis-struck currency.
“Oil prices have declined further over the last several months, and we now anticipate Azerbaijan’s general government will run deficits through 2018,” it said.
The manat lost more than a third of its value in less than a month due to the ongoing oil crisis. Azerbaijan imposed capital controls last week, which are universally acknowledged to be the last-ditch move of a desperate government to stop mammoth outflows, an action last seen in Greece.
“In our view, external risks are increasing, with the central bank’s foreign currency reserves declining by two-thirds from their mid-2014 peak,” said S&P.
The ratings agency lowered its long- and short-term foreign and local currency sovereign credit ratings on Azerbaijan to ‘BB+/B’ from 'BBB-/A-3'. The outlook on the long-term ratings is stable.