Spanish bonds peak above 7% danger zone

Ay Caramba! With just a day to go till eurozone leaders thrash out the terms of Spain's banking sector rescue package, the country's borrowing costs have spiraled.

by Rebecca Burn-Callander
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013
This morning, the interest rate - or yield - on Spain's 10-year bonds rose a whopping 16 basis points to 7.03%. Yields above 7% are usually reckoned to be unaffordable in the long-term. At this rate it'll be more than Spain's banks in urgent need of some dinero. Greece, Ireland and Portugal all approached the ECB, cap in hand, for full-blown bailouts when faced with similar yields.
 
All this on the eve of a decision from the eurozone's finance ministers on Spain's banking bailout. The country has already secured a bailout of up to €100bn - in principle - to save its beleaguered banks. It only needs around €62bn according to independent auditors, but the ECB is allowing a little wiggle room.
 
However, Spain will have to agree to some pretty stringent conditions in order to get its hands on the cash. And with this latest bad news over bond yields, Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy is between the devil and the deep blue sea (not that MT is calling Mario Draghi the devil).
 
The assembled masters of the single currency are negotiating today and tomorrow, but the stakes are getting higher by the day. A full bailout of Spanish public finances would be nigh-on impossible. Spain is the fourth largest economy of the 17 eurozone nations, larger than Greece, Ireland and Portugal combined.
 
But can the finance ministers really come up with a new framework for a full eurozone banking union in just two days? This may be the only way to artificially control borrowing rates using ECB funds to buy bonds, which could pull Spain back from the brink.
 
However, while the Eurogroup concentrates on fighting Spanish fires, flames from Italy may start to lick at their heels too. Italy's 10-year bonds are also creeping up, hitting 6.1%. Let's hope tomorrow's headline doesn't read 'Mama Mia!'.

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