Business

Spain's banks facing 156bn euros of risky loans

  • 18 July 2012
  • From the section Business
Unfinished housebuilding in Spain
Spanish property prices are falling at an annual rate of more than 10%

Spain's banks had 155.84bn euros ($191bn; £122bn) of loans on their books in May that are at risk of not being repaid, the highest since 1994.

The figure for "doubtful" loans is 8.95% of total lending extended by Spanish banks, the Bank of Spain said.

Much of the potential bad loans relate to the bursting of Spain's property bubble and descent into recession.

The figure underlines the weakness of many Spanish banks, which in 2008 had doubtful loans of 3.37% of all lending.

Last month, eurozone countries agreed to provide up to 100bn euros to support Spanish banks and put risky loans into a "bad" bank.

Further details of the arrangements will be discussed at a eurozone finance ministers meeting on Friday.

In May, Bankia had to be bailed out by the Madrid government.

Spain has the highest unemployment rate in Europe at 24%, and property prices have been falling at an annual rate of more than 10%.

'Acute stress'

In a report published on Wednesday, the International Monetary Fund estimated that the euro may be over-valued by 10% to 15% than is healthy for the Spanish economy.

In Italy, the euro adjustment needed to stay competitive was between 5% and 10%, and for stronger eurozone nations it was between 0% and 5%.

"Despite major policy actions, financial markets in parts of the [eurozone] remain under acute stress, raising questions about the viability of the monetary union itself," the IMF Economic Health Check said.

And there were signs that Spanish borrowing costs are rising, with the yield on 10-year bonds up 0.13% to 6.84% in early afternoon trading. A yield above 7% is generally considered to be unsustainable in the long run.