A mass downgrade of credit ratings across the eurozone has brought left-leaning protesters out onto the streets of Paris.
France and Austria have been stripped of their top-grade ‘AAA’ status.
In all, the ratings agency Standard and Poor’s has downgraded the debt of nine eurozone countries.
Portugal, Italy, Spain and Cyprus have all gone down by two notches. But Germany has held onto its coveted ‘AAA’ rating.
France is trying to put a brave face on it all, playing down its downgrade.
“It’s no catastrophe,” Francois Baroin, French Finance Minister, said in a television interview.
“It’s like asking a student who got 20 out of 20 for a long time, then scored 19, whether that was a catastrophe. No, it isn’t.”
The cuts could complicate efforts to solve a two-year-old European debt crisis.
Germany’s finance minister remained upbeat.
“I think that we are all closely knit and therefore we are not indifferent about it. In the past days France received different assessments from various agencies. France is on the right path,” Wolfgang Schäuble said.
Meanwhile, Italy is now on the same ratings level as Kazakhstan.
On what became Black Friday the 13th, Standard and Poor’s said policy makers had not convinced them that enough was being done to address systematic stresses in the eurozone.
It is not ruling out further downgrades in the future.
The developments came on the same day that crucial talks on cutting’s Greece’s huge debt pile appeared close to collapse.