Hottish job: Sovereign risk analysis

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With CDS spreads on sovereign debt widening, Spain downgraded to AA+ by Standard & Poors and fears that the UK may be next in line, people with experience of analyzing sovereign default risk look set to become suddenly popular.

A senior strategist in the frequent borrower group at one European bank says sovereign risk is already receiving a lot more attention than it used to. "No one really cared too much about Western sovereign debt analysis before, but it's become a hot issue.

"The problem is that it's no longer simply a question of macroeconomics - you also need to factor the cost of bank bailouts and potential bailouts into the calculation."

"People are going to be looking at it a lot harder," agrees a gilt broker. "Gilt issuance is set to grow in the coming year and the market will open up in terms of supply and liquidity."'

Whether increased interest will create additional jobs is unfortunately another matter. Most banks are reallocating staff internally rather than hiring in outsiders.

"The underlying credit analysis teams are already in place," says Lee Thacker at Silvermine partners. "There may be some upgrading with senior heavy weight analysts, but I wouldn't expect a lot of hiring."

"Just look at how many companies there are compared to countries," agrees Mike Stubbs Egginton at recruiters Credent Partners. "The type of research that you can do and the margins that you can make from it will be a lot smaller than on corporates. I can't see great swathes of people moving into this."