CountryRisk.io is an independent online platform for rating sovereign risk. As of July 2020, the latest version, systematically integrates Environmental and Social factors into the sovereign risk model. This makes ESG sovereign risk the platform’s default rating framework.
Our platform is open to interested members of the public; from central bankers and institutional analysts to corporations, students and private individuals. It gives users access to a uniform, holistic, transparent rating framework and facilitates the exchange of country risk views among our community members.
We also offer several indices for standard, ESG and anti-money laundering (AML) sovereign risk. For reference, we also include the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Index.
Our platform also includes curated country reports and news. This enables our users to simplify their workflows by searching for relevant articles within CountryRisk.io instead of using a separate search engine.
Is the standard model for assessing sovereign and country risk still available for those who don’t want to include Governance and Social factors?
Yes, you will have continued access to the original sovereign risk model. We’ve included an option to switch to the ESG version of the model before beginning a rating. However, if you decide you want to rate a country using the standard sovereign risk model after you’ve already started using the ESG version, you would need to begin again.
Who is behind CountryRisk.io?
CountryRisk.io was founded by Jenny Asuncion and Bernhard Obenhuber. They both have years of experience in finance as country risk analysts, economists and investment managers.
Patrick Kranzlmüller and Axel Swoboda are the IT wizards who brought CountryRisk.io to online life. Each remains integral to the platform’s ongoing development.
While working as country risk analysts, our founders, Jenny Asuncion and Bernhard Obenhuber, grew increasingly frustrated with credit rating agencies’ (CRAs) lack of transparency and decided there must be a better way to assess sovereign risk. So, they created one. And CountryRisk.io is the result.
Our founders were also motivated by the European sovereign debt crisis. Regulators around the world began calling on CRAs to make their methodologies more transparent and on financial institutions to reduce their dependence on CRA ratings. All of this gave our founders confidence that the time was right to put their extensive sovereign and country risk experience into building a transparent online rating platform of exceptional quality.
How is CountryRisk.io financed?
Our founders have financed CountryRisk.io from the very beginning, and continue to do so without outside investment.
Who should use CountryRisk.io?
Our user base has evolved and expanded since our founding in 2016. As such, it's no longer limited to analysts from financial institutions, such as banks, insurance companies and asset management firms, who want to perform their own independent country risk analyses.
CountryRisk.io's core users also include economists working in central banks, finance ministries and other public offices; as well as students and any other interested private individuals who find our platform useful for conducting country risk analyses.
Increasingly, we also count consulting companies representing clients in cross-border projects, as well as several debt management offices from ministries or government treasuries.
Thanks to the addition of AML country risk scores to our platform, a growing number of our users work in the compliance departments of financial institutions and corporations.
In short, anyone with a keen interest in country risk analysis is welcome to join our thriving community.
The CountryRisk.io platform is freely accessible at the moment as we develop the platform and community. However, we reserve the right to make certain elements of the platform such as our various quantitative risk scores only accessible through a paid package in the future.
Nevertheless, we believe that country risk ratings are a public good that should be accessible to everyone. We’re also convinced that a combination of multiple views on a country's risk is superior to that of a single analyst.
Requiring individuals to share their ratings analyses and datasets instead of charging them a fee enables a community view to emerge. In turn, this allows all of our users—whether or not they have a premium account—to see how their own ratings compare with the community average and overall rating dispersion. Consequently, individuals will continue to have free access to the country rating.
If you’re an individual, our platform is free to use. We only require you to share your rating analysis and any datasets you upload with the community.
If you want to keep your analysis and dataset private, you can sign up for a paid premium account.
Are you a rating agency? Are you regulated by ESMA or the SEC?
CountryRisk.io isn’t a rating agency. Instead, it is an open, online ratings platform.
We aren't regulated, nor do we seek regulatory approval from ESMA or the SEC. That said, we support private sector companies in the regulatory approval process for credit risk models.
CountryRisk.io for public institutions
What is a public institution?
Our definition of a public institution is broad, encompassing central banks, finance ministries, treasury departments, multilateral institutions, universities and publicly-funded think tanks.
How does the public institution membership package differ from the individual package?
The main difference is that users of the public institution package can decide whether to keep their rating analysis and datasets private or share them with the community. As we want to incentivise sharing with the community as much as possible, we charge a fee for keeping ratings private.
However, we also understand that public institutions cannot share all of their information publicly. For example, such institutions need to keep private their internal stress and scenario analyses and assessments of the potential impact of new government policies on ratings.
Can I keep my rating analysis private?
Yes. With a premium account, you can decide which rating analyses and datasets you want to keep private and which to share with the CountryRisk.io community.
Can I share my rating analysis with selected users?
Yes. With a premium account, you can share your rating analysis and datasets only with members of a defined group.
CountryRisk.io for private sector
What’s the difference between the public institution and corporate memberships?
Similar to public institutions, corporate users of CountryRisk.io can choose to keep their rating analyses and datasets private or share them only with selected users. The corporate package also includes guidance on the approval process for risk management, support for integrating our model with other risk assessment systems, and the ability to design unique risk management governance processes.
Can I adjust the model?
Yes, we can build a bespoke version of the ESG sovereign risk model or standard sovereign risk model just for you. This also means that we can adjust the platform to meet your institution’s specific objectives. However, the results of a customised model may not be fully comparable with the ratings of our wider community.
a foreign currency (FCY) letter-grade rating and a rating outlook
a local currency (LCY) letter-grade rating and a rating outlook
a transfer and convertibility risk (T&C) rating
You can find the definition of each rating in the rating methodology section of our documentation.
Are CountryRisk.io ratings comparable to those of Standard & Poor’s (S&P), Moody’s or FitchRatings?
Yes, the letter grade ratings of CountryRisk.io are broadly comparable to those of these credit rating agencies.
How can I provide feedback on the rating methodology?
You can email us at
Do you differentiate between developed, developing and frontier countries?
No. We apply one rating model to all countries, regardless of economic structure, stage of development, region or size. In general, we believe that there’s no good reason to apply different models to different groups of countries.
That said, we also believe that some indicators are not relevant to all countries, and so we exclude them where appropriate. Specifically, we exclude indicators that assess a country’s external liquidity—such as import coverage—where its currency is classified as a reserve currency or is frequently traded. This is because these countries tend to issue debt in their own currency. As such, due to the strength of their institutions and other mitigating qualities, these nations are unlikely to renege on their obligations.
How often will the rating methodology change?
We review the rating methodology annually based on inputs from external advisors and feedback from our community. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the model will change every year. We expect most changes to be minor, such as the addition of new or modified indicators and adjustment factors.
Has the rating methodology been audited?
No. We will decide in the future whether or not having our methodology officially audited would be valuable.
Why do you integrate environmental, social and governance factors into country and sovereign risk ratings?
We do so for two reasons:
It creates a more in-depth, comprehensive picture of the country
From the credit risk perspective, it captures the rising costs of environmental catastrophes and social instability factors, that can have a significant impact on a country’s economic strength and government finances
Where do you source your data? What are the main challenges?
We source our data principally from the World Bank, United Nations and IMF. We also use additional data providers for specific risk factors. For instance, Notre Dame University provides data on a country’s environmental vulnerability, and the Fund for Peace releases information about the fragility of states measured along various dimensions.
Poor data quality and irregular data releases have been key stumbling blocks in integrating environmental and social factors into risk assessments. These issues limit the use of many of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) indicators. While patchy data are still prevalent in many areas, there is a strong international commitment—with financial resources—to improving statistics. As the principal driver of the SDGs, the United Nations operationalised the 17 goals by defining concrete targets and respective indicators. And, importantly for research, data access has become easier through API and bulk downloads.
How do you interpret your results, and how do they differ from other ESG indices?
At CountryRisk.io, we focus on measures of a government’s ability and willingness to repay foreign currency bond obligations. In that sense, it’s a classic sovereign credit rating. The outcome is still a standard letter rating that summarises the ability and willingness of the sovereign borrower to repay its foreign and local debt obligations.
In contrast, the SDG Index measures progress toward meeting the 17 SDGs. RobecoSAM says, “By focusing on ESG factors such as ageing, competitiveness and environmental risks—which are long term in nature—our country sustainability analysis offers a view into a country’s strengths and weaknesses that are not typically covered by rating agencies.” (Source)
Can one look at the ESG indicators within the context of debt sustainability?
Yes. The key determinants of debt sustainability are: net wealth (i.e. debt minus public assets), new debt creation or primary deficit, nominal economic growth, inflation and the cost of servicing debt.
Net wealth: Environmental resources are an enviable source of wealth.
Primary deficit: Environmental disasters can lead to substantial costs for the government (e.g. Fukushima) that will weigh on the fiscal account and potentially lead to higher debt levels. At the same time, environmental pollution leads to higher health care costs and lower government revenues.
Economic growth: Capital growth and productivity are the key drivers of economic growth. Many of the ESG factors capture human capital and productivity (e.g. education).
Debt servicing cost: The cost of debt is a function of the factors listed above. Nevertheless, governance indicators (e.g. rule of law) are important determinants of the risk premium. Investors will demand a higher compensation for extending money to a country if the institutional framework is weak, all things being equal in respect to the above factors.
What do the Environmental, Social and Governance factors weigh in the model, individually and collectively?
Each Environmental, Social and Governance section weighs 10%, yielding a combined weight of 30% of the full ESG country risk model.
How do the results of the ESG model differ from the standard country risk rating model?
Integrating ESG factors adds much more granularity than you’d get from looking only at the standard country risk indicators. We find this especially valuable when it comes to higher-risk countries, where ESG factors give a more comprehensive picture of risk drivers. In addition, for countries typically referred to as the “least developed countries”, ESG factors such as health, education and governance are even more important to future economic development.
Does the ESG country risk model also follow a score-based approach?
Yes, it uses the same approach as the standard country risk rating model.
How long does it take to rate a country?
That depends on several factors. If you use the platform’s default dataset, or if you have your own dataset ready to upload and you know the country well, it should take around 20 to 40 minutes to complete the rating process.
Can I provide my own datasets and forecasts?
We encourage individual, public and corporate users to use their own datasets and forecasts on CountryRisk.io. We believe that the entire community benefits from such specialised inputs, if you choose to share them.
Can I delete a completed rating?
No. You can only delete ratings that are still in “draft” status.
What’s the difference between “draft” and “completed” status?
“Draft” status allows you to continue working on the rating. You finalise the process as “completed” by adding a rating outlook and stating the key risk and mitigating factors that underlie the final rating.
When you finalise the rating as “completed,” it becomes part of the community average and can no longer be changed.
Why do I have to provide a rating and outlook rationale?
The rating and outlook rationales are a verbal portrait of your rating summary and should highlight the key risk factors that support your analysis. They also help other users to understand your rating assessment.
Can I override the rating result?
No. We believe that our platform’s strength lies in its holistic and transparent process for country risk ratings. As such, enabling analysts to override the result would weaken our platform. If you think that the rating result is wrong, you can send us an email telling us what the “correct” rating should be. Your feedback provides us with valuable information that we use for future model calibration.
Can I keep my analysis and datasets private?
As an individual user, no. If you need to keep your rating analysis or datasets private, please contact us for one of our premium packages:
Can I view the rating analyses and datasets from other users?
Yes. On our platform, individual user ratings and datasets are publicly available.
How can I provide feedback to other users on their ratings?
We think that constructive exchanges among our community members is important and improves their understanding of a country’s risks. So, we have implemented two feedback channels in CountryRisk.io: you can comment on other users’ overall rating assessment and datasets, as well as on individual indicators and adjustment factors. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to post them. We ask only that you be friendly and constructive.
Alternatively, you can express your view on the quality of another user’s rating by giving it a star grading.
How is the community average calculated?
We calculate the CountryRisk.io community average as the simple average of all “completed” ratings for a given country during a calendar year.