On Saturday 9 June, at a crisis conference call, eurozone finance ministers agreed to lend the Spanish government up to €100 billion to provide credit to Spanish banks. The Spanish government is commissioning independent audits of the banks and, in the light of that, will specify just how much it needs to borrow.
Details of the nature of the loans will be made clear over the coming days, but they will funded either from the temporary rescue fund, the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), or from the new permanent fund that will replace it, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM).
But whilst the loans will remove the immediate pressure on Spanish banks, the underlying problems of the Spanish economy remain. Easy credit fuelled a property bubble which then burst. House prices have fallen by over 20% since the peak, and many Spanish people are in negative equity. Many construction companies have gone out of business.
What is more, the Spanish government is committed to reducing the budget deficit from 8.9% of GDP in 2011 to 5.3% in 2012 and 3% in 2013. To achieve this it has instituted tough austerity policies of government expenditure cuts and tax rises. (Click here for a link to a graph from the BBC of budget deficits in 18 EU countries.)
This has only aggravated the decline in GDP – at least in the short term. Spanish GDP is set to fall by around 2% this year and unemployment, at nearly 25% and rising, is the highest in Europe. Indeed the unemployment rate for those aged 15 to 25 is over 51%! This clearly has profound social and political consequences, with many young people seeing no prospect of gaining employment and thus feeling socially alienated. (For a PowerPoint of the above chart, click here.)
Markets on the Monday after the bailout was announced initially reacted positively. By the end of the day, however, the gains had been wiped out. Although no conditions were imposed on the Spanish government – the loan, although to the Spanish government, was to bail out the banks, not the government itself – worries remain that the Spanish economy is not set to recover for some time.
What is more, worries about other eurozone countries in difficulty have not gone away. Indeed, with the Spanish government being seen as having been dealt with more leniently than the Greek, Portuguese and Irish governments, investors are now worried that these countries may demand to renegotiate the terms of their bailout. And in the case of Greece, the Spanish bailout may make people more willing to vote in this coming Saturday’s election for parties that reject the Greek bailout terms. This may make it more likely that Greece will be forced to leave the euro, with all the chaos that is likely to ensue.
Webcasts and Podcasts
Spain: Simmering anger in Seville BBC News, Paul Mason (7/6/12)
Will Spain’s Bailout save Europe? CNBC Video, Martin Wolf (11/6/12)
Bailout boost evaporates Financial Times video, James Macintosh (11/6/12)
Spain’s bailout may not be enough Financial Times video, Nikki Tait (11/6/12)
Eurozone: ‘Italy will be next’ BBC Today Programme, Robert Peston (11/6/12)
Eurozone agrees to lend Spain up to 100 billion euros MSN Money, Jan Strupczewski and Julien Toyer (12/6/12)
Hurried Spanish banking bailout fails to calm market nerves Guardian, Giles Tremlett (11/6/12)
Fears that Spain’s bailout relief may be short-live Independent, Alasdair Fotheringham and Tom Bawden (11/6/12)
Spanish banks deal: Market concerns remain BBC News (11/6/12)
Q&A: Spanish bank deal BBC News (11/6/12)
Debt crisis: Market euphoria evaporates over Spain’s €100bn bank bailout The Telegraph, Emma Rowley and Bruno Waterfield (11/6/12)
Why bondholders are scared about Spain MarketWatch, Deborah Levine (11/6/12)
Krugman on another bank bailout Press-Telegram Paul Krugman (11/6/12)
Messy Spanish rescue BBC News, Robert Peston (10/6/12)
This latest euro fix will come apart in less than a month The Telegraph, Jeremy Warner (11/6/12)
The consequences of Spain’s bank rescue Financial Times, Gavyn Davies (10/6/12)
Buy on the summit, sell on the communiqué Financial Times, Alan Beattie (11/6/12)
The vicious euro circle keeps turning BBC News, Stephanie Flanders (12/6/12)
Spanish banks need up to 62bn euros BBC News (21/6/12)
Eurozone crisis explained BBC News (19/6/12)
Spain formally requests a bailout for its banks BBC News (25/6/12)
Documents and press releases
IMF Says Spain’s Core Financial System is Resilient, but Important Vulnerabilities Remain IMF Press Release (8/6/12)
Spain and the IMF IMF links to various documents including: Spain – Financial System Stability Assessment (8/6/12)
Eurogroup statement on Spain Eurozone Portal, The Eurogroup (9/6/12)
- How does the Spanish bailout differ from those for Greece, Irelend and Portugal?
- What are the likely implications for Spanish borrowing costs of the loans coming from the ESM?
- To what extent does the plan to bail out Spanish banks involve a moral hazard?
- What is likely to be the effect of the Spanish bailout on Greece, Ireland and Portugal?
- How bad is Spanish public-sector debt compared with other countries? What is the likely effect of the bailout on Spanish public-sector debt?
- What is meant by a banking union in the eurozone and how would it work? What would be the implication of a eurozone banking union for the UK?