Europe’s fourth biggest economy, Spain, is about to make a formal request for money from the European Union to save its banks, according to Reuters, citing EU and German sources.
The question is just how much money is required? I have four sources, some in the public domain already.
Starting with Fitch, the credit rating agency that slashed Spain’s credit rating by three notches to BBB, it foresees a bill of, I quote:
"The likely fiscal cost of restructuring and recapitalising the Spanish banking sector is now estimated by Fitch to be around 60bn euros ($75bn) (6% of GDP) and as high as 100bn euros ($125bn) (9% of GDP) in a more severe stress scenario compared to Fitch's previous baseline estimate of around EUR30bn (3% of GDP)"
The International Monetary Fund, according to Reuters in a report due on Monday, had put the number at 40bon euros ($50bn).
Capital Economics says Madrid could ask for around 30bn euros ($37bn) to around 150bn euros ($188bn) .
And Banco Santander Chairman Emilio Botin says 40bn euros would be enough to resolve the banking crisis. Santander is the country’s biggest bank.
This is a limited bailout – that would mean no extra austerity measures for Madrid – that provides money for Spain’s distressed banking sector. Much of their debt is associated with excessive lending to the property and construction sector.
But it does push Spain’s debt levels to the psychological 100 per cent level, at which point markets begin to panic. The United States is already there but as the world is run by dollars, as long as people are willing to lend to Washington, there’s no panic there.
Back to Fitch: "Gross general government debt is projected by Fitch to peak at 95% of GDP in 2015 assuming a 60bn euros bank recapitalisation, compared to Fitch's forecast at the beginning of the year of 82% by the end of 2013."
What happens if Madrid and the banks need a bailout to cover all their funding needs until the end of 2014?
Bank of America Merill Lynch estimates 265bn euros ($333bn).
JP Morgan Chase believe it could be higher at about 350bn euros ($440bn).
At its lower estimate BoA Merill Lynch says that would leave European funds "practically empty" if another country needed a bailout.
And the consequences for Spain – continued unemployment and a recession until the end of 2013.
It’s a bleak bleak picture for Europe – one instigated through the desire for a single currency without the fiscal integration.