Fitch gives Iraq its first credit rating

The ratings agency has given the country a stable outlook and a B- rating, six notches into junk.

The country is planning a $5bn bond issue towards the end of this year.

Fitch is cautious. Very cautious. It says:

Political risk and insecurity are among the highest faced by any sovereign rated by Fitch. Sectarian conflict has raged with varying intensity since 2003, ISIS militants currently effectively hold three of the 18 provinces, relations with the Kurdish regional government are volatile and governance indicators are exceptionally weak.

Iraq's fiscal position has deteriorated rapidly since 2013 and Fitch forecasts a double-digit fiscal deficit for 2015, owing to lower oil prices, higher military spending and costs associated with civil conflict. Savings buffers built during previous years of high oil prices have been largely eroded and the deficit will be financed by debt, likely including a eurobond and funding through an IMF rapid financing instrument that was approved in July.

And if that wasn't enough...

raq scores the worst of all Fitch-rated sovereigns on the composite World Bank governance indicator, reflecting not only insecurity and political instability but also corruption, government ineffectiveness and weak institutions. Doing Business indicators are below the peer median, although there is outperformance in some areas. GDP per capita, at USD5,300, is almost 50% greater than the peer median, but the Human Development Index is in line.

Iraq, of course, has oil. Lots of it. Indeed, the country has a "commodity dependence among the highest of all rated sovereigns", Fitch says.

The ratings agency is assuming here that the price of Brent holds at an average of $65 a barrel this year, $75 next year, and $80 in 2017. "Iraqi oil production is conservatively forecast to increase to an average of 4.2m b/d in 2017," it says.