Swan praises 'gold-plated' Australian economy

Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan has hailed the resilience of Australia's economy after global ratings agency Fitch confirmed its "gold-plated" AAA credit rating.

Australia is now one of only eight members of the "9As Club" – countries with the highly sought-after AAA rating, with a stable outlook, from all three global agencies – S&P, Fitch and Moody's.
The eight countries are Australia, Canada, Finland, Norway, Germany, The Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland.
"Despite the ridiculous scare campaigns we've seen on the economy this week from the opposition, being an elite member of The 9As Club shows the resilience of Australia's economy," Mr Swan said in a statement on Friday.
"No Liberal government has ever achieved this coveted trifecta from all three global ratings agencies."
Labor had ensured Australia avoided recession during the financial crisis, Mr Swan said.
The economy had grown by more than 13 per cent since Labor came to office in 2007, he said, and more than 900,000 jobs had been added while tens of millions had been lost around the world.
The government's fiscal consolidation had given the Reserve Bank more room to run lower rates by helping to keep inflation contained, alongside low unemployment and solid economic growth.
"Getting the big economic calls right over the last five years and continuing our responsible budget management has put Australia in a strong position to grasp the opportunities of the future," Mr Swan said.
Fitch Ratings said Australia had remained one of the strongest performing economies since the global financial crisis began.
"Australia has built up the capacity to absorb shocks due to a combination of low public debt, a free floating exchange rate and liberal trade and labour markets," the agency said.
This allowed authorities to run strong countercyclical policies during downturns, and the economy to adjust.
Fitch said its rating assumed Australia's high level of political stability and governance was maintained, supporting the country's "attractive business climate".
The global pool of government bonds with triple A status, the bedrock of the financial system, has shrunk more than 60 per cent since the financial crisis triggered a wave of downgrades across the advanced economies.
Financial Times analysts say the expulsion of the US, the UK and France from the 9As club has led to a contraction in the stock of government bonds deemed the safest, from almost $US11 trillion at the start of 2007 to just $4 trillion now.
They say the shrinkage, largely a result of America's downgrade by S&P in 2011, is part of a dramatic redrawing of the world credit ratings map.
Topping the list in the scale of credit upgrades since January 2007 are Uruguay, Bolivia and Brazil. The biggest downgrades were in crisis-hit southern Europe, mainly Greece.
(Source: Australian Financial Review)