Sunday

4th Dec 2016

Spanish and Italian borrowing costs soar

  • The Deutsche Borse in Frankfurt (Photo: Astrid Walter)

The cost of insurance against a Spanish default reached another record on Monday, with Italy's borrowing costs also rising sharply amid continued market fears about the fate of the eurozone.

"With a risk premium at 500 points, it is very difficult to raise finances," Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Monday (28 May) in a press conference. His country's 'debt risk premium' - the default insurance investors demand on Spanish bonds compared to German bunds - that day leapt to a eurozone record of 514 basis points.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

But Rajoy insisted Spain was not seeking financing from the eurzone bail-out fund, but rather alluded to earlier calls for the European Central Bank (ECB) to resume its bond-purchasing or cheap bank loans programmes which last year helped both Spain and Italy lower their borrowing costs.

"We need a clear, forceful and energetic defence of the euro," Rajoy said. Last week he noted that ECB money is a more pressing issue than the theoretical discussion about further political integration of the eurozone.

Part of Spain's problem is its troubled banks. The government on Friday pumped an extra €19 billion into Bankia, its fourth-largest lender, in what is so far the biggest Spanish bank bail-out. Madrid already injected €4.4 billion earlier this month. Reports suggest another €30 billion may be needed - with an independent audit under way to examine the state of Spanish lenders.

Fears about a possible Greek exit from the eurozone, labelled "Armageddon" by some senior bankers, are affecting Spain as it seeks funding from the markets.

Charles Dallara, the manager of the International Institute of Finance, an umbrella group of the world's largest banks, last week said a Greek exit would cost more than €1 trillion and seriously damage other southern countries.

“Those who think that Europe, and more broadly the global economy, are really prepared for a Greek exit should think again," Dallara told Bloomberg in an interview.

Similar to Spain, Italy's borrowing costs also spiked on Monday, with two-year bonds selling at extra costs of over four percent, compared to a 3.3 percent rate last month before the Greek elections.

Meanwhile, German bonds last week sold at a record of zero-percent interest, as investors are flocking to these 'safe-haven' treasury papers.

European Parliament chief Martin Schulz, himself a German national, said last week that this widening gap between Germany and other eurozone countries is "destroying Europe" and urged the German chancellor to change policies.

A meeting called by Italy's premier Mario Monti next month in Rome with Rajoy, France's Francois Hollande and Germany's Angela Merkel is likely to see more pressure put on the German leader to accepting some form of joint debt issuing - the so-called eurobonds.

The prospect of having these joint bonds could help alleviate the borrowing problem for southern countries in the long run and lift the pressure from the ECB to continue buying up debt or injecting cheap loans into the eurozone banks.

But Germany, who borrowing costs would rise under such a scheme, has said this is a long term solution only.

Analysis

Doubts hang over EU investment plan's future

Questions of value for money and a lack of transparency complicate adding almost €200 billion more and extending the Juncker investment plan to 2020.

News in Brief

  1. Talks on wholesale roaming rules to start
  2. Lead MEP Dieselgate committee: Italy and Slovakia will cooperate
  3. Transparency NGO sues EU commission on Turkey deal
  4. Pro-EU liberal wins UK by-election
  5. Finnish support for Nato drops, Russia-scepticism grows
  6. Cyprus talks to resume in January
  7. Documents from German NSA inquiry released
  8. Transport commissioner 'not aware' of legal action on emissions

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. CESIElects Leaders and Sets Safety & Health at Work and Gender Equality Among the Guidelines For Next Term
  2. European Gaming & Betting AssociationContinues to Grow its Membership and Welcomes its Newest Member Association
  3. ACCASupports the Women of Europe Awards, Celebrating the Women who are Building Europe
  4. European Heart NetworkWhat About our Kids? Protect Children From Unhealthy Food and Drink Marketing
  5. ECR GroupRestoring Trust and Confidence in the European Parliament
  6. UNICEFChild Rights Agencies Call on EU to put Refugee and Migrant Children First
  7. MIRAIA New Vision on Clean Tech: Balancing Energy Efficiency, Climate Change and Costs
  8. World VisionChildren Cannot Wait! 7 Priority Actions to Protect all Refugee and Migrant Children
  9. ANCI LazioRegio-Mob Project Delivers Analysis of Trasport and Mobility in Rome
  10. SDG Watch EuropeCivil Society Disappointed by the Commission's Plans for Sustainable Development Goals
  11. PLATO15 Fully-Funded PhD Positions Open – The Post-Crisis Legitimacy of the EU (PLATO)
  12. Access NowTell the EU Council: Protect our Rights to Privacy and Security