Posts Tagged ‘Spanish economy’

 

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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February 10th, 2010

The European housing market hasn’t stopped attracting British buyers, with Spain as the top hot spot, according to The Independent.

Spain may be a surprise entry given that it is still struggling with high unemployment and a shrinking economy, but with average house prices falling by 8 per cent in the 12 months from September 2008, this may be the time to pick up property on the cheap.

And while Spain has been going through turbulent times, it is nevertheless still a firm favourite as a lifestyle holiday destination, despite all the bad press of late.

The British love affair with Spain shows few signs of abating. Spain came out as the top destination for international money transfers at the Post Office, as well as the cheapest place to live within the eurozone, according to its holiday costs barometer.

The full story: The Indepentent

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February 9th, 2010

The number of Brits buying euros for property purchases has increased in the last few days after sterling reached a rate of €1.15 for the first time since August 2008.

Foreign currency brokers have seen a 40% increase in clients buying euros, while new enquiries have shot up by 24%.

“A number of our clients in the market for euros are taking advantage of the improved exchange rate and buying their euros for overseas mortgage payments, property purchases etc now,” World First’s head of private clients, Elisabeth Dobson, told OPP.

“They are delighted to be getting a rate that is up to 12% better than the lows we have seen over the last 17 months. There are a number of clients who will have been holding off on property purchases and overseas investments due to sterling’s weakness against the euro. This rate move will certainly spur people on.”

A run of economic good news from the UK, including a fall in unemployment, rising inflation and an anticipation that the country is out of recession, has helped increase the pound’s strength. Meanwhile, economic problems in Spain and Greece have weakened consumer confidence in the euro.

Not all currency brokers have seen a substantial increase in business. “€1.15 is a bit of psychological barrier but most clients are still waiting for the magic €1.20 number,” Marc Morley-Freer, commercial director at Moneycorp, told OPP. “After the UK election we could see improvements that could push people to make lifestyle purchases – things are too uncertain before then.”

World First’s chief economist Jeremy Cook remains bullish following sterling’s 9% growth over the last year. “I don’t think this run in particular will last because it has happened so quickly, but the pound could be up to around €1.22 by the end of the year,” he told OPP.

Story from OPP

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December 2nd, 2009

Once a star performer in Europe’s 11-year old monetary union, Spain has become the wayward laggard. Growth data last week showed the Spanish economy – hit badly by a property market collapse and soaring unemployment – stuck firmly in recession in the third quarter, while the eurozone as a whole grew 0.4 per cent. The rollercoaster ride might suggest the European Central Bank would have difficulty calibrating policy steps to suit Spain and the other 15 eurozone countries.

During the economic crisis, Miguel Fernández Ordóñez, Spain’s central bank governor since 2006, has rarely given interviews. Talking to the Financial Times in the library of the bank’s plush Madrid headquarters, he strikes a distinctly cautious tone, but his messages are not so different from those of his colleagues in Frankfurt.

After the collapse of Lehman Brothers investment bank last year, the ECB cut its main interest rate farther and faster than ever before, to a record low of 1 per cent. He hints this monetary policy stance will remain for some time. “It is clear that any increase in [interest] rates is off the screen. The markets do not expect any change before the second half of next year,” he says.

He agrees, however, that with financial markets normalising, the ECB’s governing council should plan to remove emergency support, such as offers of unlimited liquidity for up to one year. “My reasoning is that those measures were exceptional because the markets did not work well. When the markets are working well, we should take them away because otherwise the markets will never work perfectly, ever. Support should be exceptional.”

Jean-Claude Trichet, the ECB’s president, indicated this month that the “exit strategy” would start in December, with the ending of one-year liquidity offers.

But is Spain ready for the start of such an ECB strategy, given its weak growth prospects? “Well, it’s ready for recovery,” Mr Fernández Ordóñez replies, “because recovery in Europe is the best news for Spain.” Some 70 per cent of Spain’s exports go to the eurozone, he points out. His biggest concern is that Spain pushes harder to bring public finances under control and increase labour market flexibility.

From one perspective, eurozone membership acts as a straitjacket in a downturn because devaluation is not an option. Worse, the euro is strengthening. Mr Fernández Ordóñez does not see things that way, however. “Of course you are right that we cannot devalue, and what does it mean? This means that we have to do more structural reforms so that you have the advantages [similar to those] of devaluing.”

As such, he is happy to see Spanish consumer prices falling faster than elsewhere. “Deflation in the euro area would be a disaster. But if you don’t have deflation in the euro area and we have a negative inflation differential in Spain compared with the rest of the eurozone, that would be the best thing. Reducing prices and regaining competitiveness is what we have to do.”

Story from FT.com

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July 16th, 2009

Spain’s economy is likely to have shrunk ‘substantially’ less in the second quarter than in the first, though growth will remain negative to the end of the year, the economy secretary was quoted on Monday as saying.

‘We don’t have a precise estimate, but we believe that the fall (in gross domestic product) will be substantially less than in the first quarter,’ Jose Manuel Campa said in an interview with the financial daily Cinco Dias.

‘Until the end of the year we will continue to have negative growth rates, but increasingly smaller ones.’

Spain’s economy shrank 1.9 percent in the first quarter from a quarter earlier, its sharpest contraction in half a century – most acutely felt in the Spanish property market. Savings bank foundation FUNCAS said on Monday the worst may be over.

‘Available data point to a less abrupt contraction in the second quarter than the previous two quarters,’ Funcas said. Talk of economic recovery may be premature, the foundation said.

‘The worst may be over, but that doesn’t mean the economy will recover soon, just that the recession will be less intense,’ Funcas said.

The Spanish economy would shrink by 3.6 percent in 2009 and 0.6 percent in 2010, according to consensus figures published by the foundation on Monday.

The Spanish government has launched one of the world’s largest economic stimulus packages in relative terms which has inflated a ballooning public deficit likely to rise above 10 percent of GDP this year from 3.8 percent in 2008.

Campa reiterated the government’s target to cut the deficit to below 3 percent in 2012 in line with European Union recommendations.

‘It is our commitment to the European Union and we meet our commitments,’ he said. ‘Obviously, it is not easy, but it is feasible.’

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