Credit rating

Most bonds are allocated a credit rating to indicate to an investor the likelihood of a subsequent default. The three firms, or ‘agencies’ that specialise in awarding these ratings, Standard and Poors, Moody’s and Fitch do so by looking at a number of factors that could increase or decrease this risk including the credit quality of the issuer, their ability to cover interest payments from profits and any security – usually in the form of assets such as property – on offer. The ratings then vary from AAA ‘triple A’ for safe, low risk bonds, typically issued by high quality institutions like the UK government and blue-chip companies, down to D for those which have failed to make a coupon payment on time and are therefore in default. Many fund managers are obliged by the regulator to hold ‘investment grade’ bonds meaning those with a credit rating of BBB and above.

• See Tim Bennett’s video tutorial: Do we need ratings agencies?

Hedge fund manager Hugh Hendry: 'It felt like the sun rose only to humiliate me'

In a series of three short videos, Merryn Somerset-Webb talks to Hugh Hendry, manager of the Eclectica hedge fund, about everything from China to the US, Europe, and Japan.


Which investment platform?

When it comes to buying shares and funds, there are several investment platforms and brokers to choose from. They all offer various fee structures to suit individual investing habits.
Find out which one is best for you.


22 December 1973: Opec more than doubles the price of oil

On this day in 1973 Opec, the oil price cartel, more than doubled the price of oil from $5.12 a barrel to $11.65.