Monday, July 14, 2008

Newsflash: Spain looks dicey

If it were not for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac going insolvent this would be the biggest financial story in the world today.

Spain can’t sell its sovereign debt reported here and here. The spreads of Spanish bonds of German Bunds is still small - so this is a warning shot. But it is a shot that rings very loudly at Bronte Capital.

Background

Spain is a current account deficit country with large wholesale financed banks. If you can’t sell Spanish sovereign debt the you shouldn’t be able to sell Spanish (mortgage) covered bonds. Moreover it is a current account deficit country with a permanently fixed currency (it gave up the Peseta and joined the Eurozone).

A while back the most liquid bank stock in the world wasn’t Citigroup or JP Morgan – it was Santander. The second most liquid bank stock in the world was BBVA. These are giants.

They are highly dependent on wholesale funding. If they can't raise wholesale funds they will come close to failing - and Spain will wind up in a horrid recession.

And it is very hard for the Spanish government to bail the mega Spanish Banks out because the Spanish government can’t print Euros. (Being unable to print a fixed currency is part of a model for bank collapse I will deal with in some future posts.)

If the Spanish can’t bail out their own banks I guess the Bundesbank (I mean European Central Bank) can – but that would be a call on German taxpayers to bail out the Spanish.

Of course the Eurozone could collapse. Spain can then go back to its old ways printing pesetas.

Alternatively this could all wash over by next week. But the implications of the Spanish pulling sovereign debt auctions are pretty horrible. Even if the spreads remain under 50bps.

Watch this space...

1 comment:

Timothy said...

Hi John, I believe that the Spanish Banks & Caja (building societies) are large users of the ECB facility already

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