One interesting side show in relation to the ongoing Euro negotiations concerns the attempts to “gag” the Ratings Agencies such as Moodys and Standard and Poor. Preventing the other side in any negotiation from having their say is normally a mistake in any deal, and this is indeed a negotiation, between the representatives of the financial markets, and the Institutions of the Eurozone.

There is no doubt that in ongoing negotiations over the Euro these agencies play a role, since they seem to lead market sentiment with their negative pronouncements. In some ways it is surprising therefore that the Eurozone Institutions have not previously engaged more proactively with these agencies – in any negotiation you need to embrace all stakeholders in the ultimate outcome. Michel Barnier, EU Internal market commissioner has now announced that Credit rating agencies could be banned from downgrading countries in the Eurozone’s bailout scheme and the ban could be extended to countries negotiating the bailout.

The pronouncements of the Agencies are certainly often very inconvenient. They frequently trigger market tensions. It is not surprising that the Eurozone institutions wish they could be muzzled. However, in any negotiation it is critical to allow all participants to have a voice. If you don’t they will not buy-in to the outcome. Regulating against the Agencies will not prevent them finding unofficial ways of letting their views be known. Moreover there are plenty of other analysts around who don’t work for Agencies and will be happy to continue to give their downbeat opinions to the market place. In addition, attempting to gag the Agencies makes it look like the Eurozone Institutions are running scared and that in itself would be enough to spook the markets.

The only way to address the Agencies’ influence on the situation is for Eurozone Agencies to engage with them and negotiate about their concerns. Trying to prevent them expressing their views will not enable the Eurozone countries to negotiate a path through the current market turmoil.