To be sure, France is in trouble, but fundamentally it is not in much worse shape than your average western welfare state.
Quite why anyone puts stock in the word of these agencies, who famously failed to predict the recent crash, I'm not sure. I expect it has something to do with one of the few sensible points made by John Maynard Keynes:
“It is not a case of choosing those [faces] that, to the best of one’s judgment, are really the prettiest, nor even those that average opinion genuinely thinks the prettiest. We have reached the third degree where we devote our intelligences to anticipating what average opinion expects the average opinion to be. And there are some, I believe, who practice the fourth, fifth and higher degrees.” (Keynes, General Theory of Employment Interest and Money, 1936).No sane investor can trust the word of S&P, but it seems that enough believe that other investors believe in the worth of their ratings.
How our grandchildren will look back, and laugh.