Monday, September 1, 2008

Why Spain’s banking sector could be facing a death blow

Source: Money Week 

Window of a Spanish bank

'...Spanish banking sector could be facing collapse

So it's starting to look like the game could be up for a large chunk of the Spanish banking system. We've written before about the parlous state of the Spanish property market and, as a result, the hole into which the country's banks have dug themselves. The latest Bank of Spain data shows that the country's banks have increased their ECB borrowing to a record €49.6bn (£39bn). "A number have been issuing mortgage securities for the sole purpose of drawing funds from Frankfurt", says Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in The Telegraph. "These banks are heavily reliant on short-term and medium funding from the capital markets. This spigot of credit is now almost entirely closed".

But the ECB will have to end this bailing-out soon. Now it's possible - just – that the central bank can deal its way out of this mess, and somehow avoid the carnage that a Spanish bank bust would cause. But as the world's banking glitterati gather in Jackson Hole, they've got plenty of hard thinking to do. After all, if Spain's banking sector collapses, it would result in even tighter credit, less lending and less spending.

One – admittedly unorthodox solution – could be for the ECB to simply pretend that Spain doesn't exist. If that sounds silly, that's because it is. Yet, that hasn't prevented British buy-to-let lender Paragon from trying to disown an entire sector of amateur landlords who have fallen on hard times.

According to The Guardian, Paragon now says that investors in the kind of overpriced city-centre apartments which are now virtually unlettable and unsellable should not be classed as buy-to-let investors. "These properties were targeted by speculative purchasers who thought they could make a quick buck by flipping them. That is not the buy-to-let market. Buy-to-let investors do not own a property unless they can demonstrate that there is tenant demand".

It's an interesting solution to the housing bubble implosion – just stick your fingers in your ears and pretend it's not happening. But somehow we don't think it'll catch on....'

More: Money Week 

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