Open Europe Blog

Looking to the New Year?

With trouble flaring up in Greece once more and the backstop of the ECB’s bond-buying (OMT) in place, Spain has slipped off the radar slightly. It now seems likely that any request for a sovereign bailout (of one form or another) will be pushed back until the New Year.

However, interestingly, Spain returned to the debt markets this week despite having its funding costs covered this year. It successfully sold almost €5bn worth of short-term debt on Tuesday and almost €3.9bn of medium and long-term debt yesterday.

This could mean many things, not least that the Spanish government is concerned about its cash position or the potential for unexpected costs (a regional or bank bailout for example), but we’re willing to give Spain the benefit of the doubt and see it as prudent planning to get a head start in covering its funding needs next year. This comes as somewhat of a relief given that gross Spanish funding needs could run between €150bn and €200bn next year.
On a separate, and slightly less positive note, the European Commission has, in a working document, questioned why the Spanish government has, in substance, refrained from intervening in those Spanish regions which are “clearly at risk of missing their fiscal targets in 2012” – despite legislating earlier this year to give itself such power? It is an interesting question, we would hazard a guess that the Spanish government is not ready to face the political consequences of such an action.
We can’t exactly blame them on this front but it raises the question of where their threshold is and what the repercussion of such an action would be.
As per usual from Spain then, a bit of a mixed bag, but at least it seems to be planning for next year. Now if only it took a longer term approach to its banking sector and labour market reforms…
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