Downgrades of municipal debt exceeded upgrades for the 12th straight quarter from October 2011 through December 2011, according to Moody’s. About five ratings were cut for every one upgraded in the fourth quarter. The ratio was about 4-to-1 in 2011, with 518 cuts to 125 increases. Those 643 changes represent 3.6 percent of the 18,000 issuers rated by the company. “Against this uncertain backdrop, we foresee elevated downgrade activity persisting across most public finance sectors over the next several quarters, and possibly longer,’’ said Christopher Holmes of Moody’s.
— Brian Chappatta