When a country reaches junk status, it loses its investment grade status
Global stock markets tumbled after Greece's debt was downgraded to "junk" by rating agency Standard & Poor's over concerns that the country may default.
It makes the struggling nation the first eurozone member to have its debt downgraded to junk level. Portugal's debt was also lowered on fears of "contagion", adding to the markets' rout and a fall in the euro.
BBC News website readers in Greece and the EU have been sending their comments about the rating:
COMMENTS FROM GREECE:
It is only natural that markets would react this way. The Greek government has spent six months swaying between wishful thinking and harsh reality, between pledges to hold true to pre-election promises for salary rises above inflation, continuing with business as usual, and the need for austerity measures. Who in his right mind would be willing to lend money to someone already in excessive debt, who still insists on having a good time on others' expense?
A. Maragos, Athens
The Greek government needs to be supported and the Greek public should stop reacting to every move the country leaders make. My country, a country of complete and utter chaos, is at the verge of going bankrupt. The EU partners should quickly initiate the aid package, not for philhellenic reasons but in order to save the euro's value. This country needs a complete reformation, a total change in people's attitude in Greece so as to battle corruption, tax evasion and politicians who are only motivated by stealing money from the average struggling Greek family.
George Meachim, Thessaloniki
Market reaction relies a lot on psychology. The present psychology about Greece's economic status is low because of negativism of the speculators. It is more than certain that Greece will meet her obligation of the 9bn euros due on May 9. Stability will follow eventually and things will go on their way. No need for default this moment.
Anastasios Diakoumis, Athens
The decision to downgrade the Greek debt does not take into consideration the serious and sincere efforts of the newly elected government of George Papandreou to tackle the financial problems of Greece. I think there's a game going on by the so-called markets that goes far beyond of Greece and its problems, and it has to do with the devaluation of the euro itself and the "rebalance" of the global economy.
Nikos Megrelis, Athens
The timing of the downgrade is suspicious for two reasons. The previous downgrade was based on the fact that Greece has not applied for IMF support. Today's downgrade is five days before the final agreement with the IMF. One week later after success or failure of the discussions would be a much more appropriate to evaluate the Greek economy and its prospects.
I think the great silent majority of the Greek people agree that hard measures should be taken to face the present economic deadlock. Most of those taking to the streets are paid well over 2,000 euros a month- I am a 650 euros a month pensioner. Widely spread indignation for incredibly high salaries for unimportant persons. I was a strong supporter of the previous government, now strongly against it for having proven unable to avert such catastrophe through ignoring the actual situation or knowingly hiding it completely.
George Thetocatos, Thessaloniki
FROM OTHER EUROPEAN COUNTRIES:
The real lesson is that we don't have to follow the public declarations of the institutional European leaders; the status of Greece was very clear, the same of a company close to the bankrupt that manipulates its profit and loss situation and the balance sheet to get more credit. The mistake has been to enlarge the eurozone: the countries are not all equal, also in terms of culture and behaviour. Now the explosion will affect the entire EU.
Ciriaco Offeddu, Milan, Italy
The scary part is that the Greek public do not seem to realise that the problems are domestic rather than international. From one point of view it would do them good if the state defaulted, because the Greek public might realise that you cannot build a country on borrowed money. You have to earn it yourself.
Magnus Hammar, Stockholm, Sweden
I think the Greek strike wave made the difference. It destroyed any confidence that the Greeks will get their act together. The silly German-bashing was a distraction as if the Germans will be Europe's villain forever which is an insult to any hard working German (or any other hard working European - mind you: even the Brits are asked to cough up 1 bn euros for the Greeks via the IMF). The Germans made clear that sticking to the rules is crucial. The Greek strikers made clear that they don't care about the rules. The punishment is fully deserved.
Ronald Gruenebaum, Brussels
In Portugal there is a hung parliament since September. Since then and because of the possibility of new elections, political parties have only been interested on their votes if this government falls. All the speculation around the Portuguese budget and public deficits are mere speculation, but it reflects the misuse of public money we've been through the past years. What worries us most is the time it will take to clean up this mess of the huge public sector and the burden on my generation.
Antonio Gandarinho, Aveiro, Portugal