Anyone who’s turned on the news in 2012 is pretty well aware that there is a severe sovereign debt crisis occurring in Europe on an unprecedented level. Greece barely avoided a complete catastrophe but more nations in the Eurozone periphery continue to be unable to maintain a balanced budget. Business Insider reports on Spain’s growing dispair and the economic implications of their possible exit from the Eurozone:
Spain is battling to avert a fully-fledged sovereign rescue after borrowing costs spiralled out of control, with dangerous knock-on effects in Italy and Eastern Europe.
The yields on closely-watched two-year debt surged by 78 basis points to a modern-era high of 6.42pc, leaving it unclear how long the country can continue funding itself. Italy’s two-year yields vaulted to 4.6pc.
“We can’t keep going like this for another 15 days,” said Prof Miguel Angel Bernal from Madrid’s Institute ofMarket Studies. “The European Central Bank has to bring out its heavy artillery.”
Andrew Roberts, credit chief at Royal Bank of Scotland, said the dramatic spike in short-term borrowing costs marked a key inflexion point in the crisis, replicating the pattern seen in Greece, Ireland and Portugal as they lost access to market finance. “We are fast approaching the endgame,” he said.
The surge in Spain’s short-term yields adds another twist to the banking crisis, a cost that now falls on the state. Spanish banks borrowed €315bn from the ECB under the long-term refinancing operation (LTRO) and “parked” a large chunk in Spanish two-year to five-year sovereign bonds until they need the money to cover their own debt rollovers.
While this so-called “carry trade” helped to stabilise the Spanish bond market for a few months during an exodus by foreign investors, it has now backfired badly. The two-year bond has shed 9pc in face value since the second LTRO in February, leaving the banks heavily under water. “This has turned into an unmitigated disaster. They will have to crystallise these losses when they sell,” said Mr Roberts.