Today S&P Global affirmed Iceland’s A/A-1 long- and short-term foreign and local currency sovereign credit ratings with a stable outlook. According to the rating agency, Iceland’s fiscal and external balance sheets have strengthened in recent years. However, the small, relatively concentrated economy remains vulnerable to external developments and the risk of reemergence of domestic overheating. S&P expects that growth rates will slow over the coming years as tourism inflows decelerate.
The stable outlook balances the potential for Iceland‘s stronger-than-anticipated fiscal and balance of payments performance against the risks posed by the economy‘s dependence on foreign trade developments and potential re-emergence of overheating stemming from the upcoming wage negotiations in 2019.
S&P could raise Iceland‘s ratings if fiscal and external balance sheets strengthen by more than presently anticipated over the next two years. Ratings could be lowered if financial stability risks or balance of payments pressures emerge over the next two years. For example if the domestic economy overheated, posing risks for Iceland‘s competitiveness and adversely affecting long-term growth prospects. This could also be the case if tourism flows slowed sharply, which could negatively affect the country‘s balance of payments performance and the banking system. According to S&P, the latter could manifest itself through an impact on the housing market, given the rapid pace of tourism-related construction projects in recent years.