IMF: Spain Not in Same Boat as Greece

February 23rd, 2010

The International Monetary Fund said Thursday that Spain’s fiscal challenges are not as severe as those faced by Greece, reinforcing the message that Madrid has been delivering to the world’s financial markets.

In its first official comment on the matter, the IMF told investors that Spain should not be placed in the same boat as debt-laden Greece.

“Regarding Spain, we do see differences between their circumstances and those of other parts of the euro area,” IMF spokesman David Hawley said, dismissing the idea that Greece’s financial woes could spread beyond its borders.

Hawley said Spain has robust economic statistics and institutions with a solid track record and credibility, adding that the Iberian nation also had strong fiscal starting positions prior to the global recession.

That assessment echoed the message Spanish Economy Secretary Jose Manuel Campa has brought to Paris and London and plans to reiterate at closed-door meetings with investors in New York and Boston.

Campa said in an interview with Efe-DowJones that when investors see that the diagnosis of the situation has been correct and that the measures that the Spanish government has taken are adequate, “it will generate a lot of reassurance.”

Spain’s investment waters were calmer Thursday after the government sold a 5-billion-euro 15-year bond the day before in an auction that was oversubscribed, proving – experts said – the government’s ability to raise financing.

The country paid a risk premium of 85 basis points in the bond issue over the benchmark swap rate. By comparison, the risk premium demanded by holders of 10-year Greek bonds over Germany’s 10-year benchmark bonds rose Thursday to 328 basis points.

Hawley stressed Thursday that Greece’s budget deficit woes date back to before the global recession, while Spain had a surplus equal to 2 percent of GDP at the start of the financial downturn.

Story from Herald Tribune

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