Spain gets closer to the brink

The Daily Telegraph reports:

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. ’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 of Market 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.

A collapse for would be huge. For Italy, the consequences beyond belief.

El Confidencial said the Rajoy team was thinking of “putting on the table” a possible withdrawal from the euro, a dramatic escalation in the game of brinkmanship between the eurozone’s Latin bloc and German-led creditor core.

“We would have our own currency again and restore competitiveness. It would have some disastrous consequences at first, but we would regain control over our own policies and we would escape from the crisis sooner,” a government source reportedly said.

I think they should leave the Euro. It is clear you can not have monetary union without fiscal union – or at least hard fiscal barriers all keep within.

Gary Jenkins from Swordfish said the may be able to “rustle up” just enough money to finance an EU-IMF Troika rescue for Spain – probably around €400bn – but Italy is too big to handle.

The existing EU bail-out fund (EFSF) is down to about €160bn after covering the needs of Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Cyprus and the Spanish banks. The new permanent fund (ESM) will have €500bn, but is facing a challenge in the German constitutional court. It is far from clear whether these funds can raise large sums on the open market at viable cost.

Mr Jenkins said the fire must be contained before it reached the next big country, either by massive ECB intervention or full fiscal union. Germany is still blocking both. “The battle for Spain is already lost. The battle for Italy has begun,” he said.

If this happens, we will not be immune. Forget surplus in 2014/15 – in fact our big challenge may just be to avoid a structural deficit.

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