S&P Puts Bank of America and Citigroup on "Negative" Outlook

Standard & Poor's has revised the outlook for Bank of America Corp. and Citigroup Inc. to "Negative" from "Stable." For both companies S&P affirmed ratings.

For Bank of America, S&P, "affirmed all ratings, including its 'A/A-1' counterparty credit rating and our ratings on all related entities," according to a February 9th announcement.

"The outlook revision reflects our increased uncertainty about the U.S. government's willingness to provide additional extraordinary support to highly systemically important financial institutions in a way that benefits debt holders," according to John Bartko, a credit analyst at S&P, in the announcement about Bank of America. "We previously stated our belief that the extraordinary support was temporary. We believe markets are beginning to stabilize and the U.S. government is seeking ways to reduce the potential for moral hazard and systemic risk associated with large financial institutions."

Standard & Poor's Credit Analyst Scott Sprinzen made the identical statement in the separate February 9th announcement about Citigroup.

For Citigroup, S&P "affirmed our counterparty credit and debt ratings on Citi (A/A-1; holding company). In light of what we view as improved stand-alone characteristics, we raised the ratings on its hybrid capital issues to 'BB-' from 'B+' (excluding its preferred stock, which we affirmed at 'C')."

Comments? Please send them to kmcbride@wealthmanagerweb.com. Kate McBride is editor in chief of Wealth Manager and a member of The Committee for the Fiduciary Standard.

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