Spanish 10-Year Bond Yield Hits 7% After Credit Downgrades

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After Egan-Jones downgraded Spain's government bond rating to CCC+ from B yesterday, and Moody's downgraded Spain to Baa3 from A3 (and Cyprus to Ba3), the Spanish 10-year government bond yield hit 7% this morning, which is a level where Greece, Italy and Ireland got bailouts. Egan-Jones believes there will be full-scale bailouts for Spain and Italy in 6 months. On June 9, Eurozone finance ministers agreed to a 100 billion euro bailout for Spanish banks via the EFSF/ESM. Watch out for sovereigns and banks on bath salts (contagion risk).

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From the Moody's press release:


The first key driver underlying Moody's three-notch downgrade of Spain's government bond rating is the government's decision to seek up to EUR100 billion of external funding from the EFSF or ESM. A formal request will be presented shortly, but the euro area finance ministers announced on 10 June their willingness to accede to that request. The sum of EUR100 billion is twice the size of Moody's previous base case estimate, and in line with the rating agency's adverse case estimate.

While the details of the support package have yet to be announced, it is clear that the responsibility for supporting Spanish banks rests with the Spanish government. EFSF funds will be lent to the government which will use them to recapitalise Spanish banks. This borrowing will materially worsen the government's debt position: Moody's now expects Spain's public debt ratio to rise to around 90% of GDP this year and to continue rising until the middle of the decade. Stabilising the ratio will be a key challenge for the Spanish authorities, requiring years of continued fiscal consolidation. As a consequence, the government's fiscal and debt position is no longer commensurate with a rating in the A range or even at the top of the Baa range.

The second driver of today's rating action is the Spanish government's very limited financial market access, as evidenced both by its reliance on the EFSF or ESM for the recapitalisation funds and its growing dependence on its domestic banks as the primary purchasers of its new bond issues, who in turn require funding from the ECB to purchase these bonds. In Moody's view, this is an unsustainable situation. In the absence of positive developments that shore up investor sentiment, such as a resumption of growth or rapid progress in achieving fiscal consolidation objectives, neither of which is likely in the current environment, the government is likely to become increasingly constrained with regard to the terms under which it is able to refinance maturing debt. If unchecked, Moody's believes that the risk of the government losing access to private debt markets on affordable terms and needing to seek direct support from the EFSF/ESM will continue to rise.

Given the experience with private-sector involvement (PSI) in Greece and the intentions expressed by euro area officials around the development of the ESM, Moody's believes that the debts of euro area sovereigns that are fully dependent upon official sources to fund their borrowing requirements represent speculative-grade risk. Support would, if needed for a sustained period, be likely to be made conditional on loss-sharing with private investors or in extremis withdrawn altogether.

Moody's action to place the government's rating one notch above speculative grade reflects the rating agency's view that Spain has moved much closer to needing to seek direct support from the EFSF/ESM, and therefore much closer to being positioned within speculative grade.

Moody's decision to leave the government's rating in investment grade reflects the underlying strength of the Spanish economy and the government's clear desire to reverse the debt trajectory through a strong fiscal consolidation programme. Moody's also acknowledges several factors that differentiate the current programme from the support packages extended to Ireland, Portugal and Greece. In particular, the size of the support package is significantly smaller than it is in the other cases. The maximum amount of EUR100 billion equates to around 10% of Spain's GDP, compared with more than 54% of GDP in the case of Ireland, 114% of GDP in Greece and 46% of GDP in Portugal. Moody's therefore also considers the issue of subordination of bondholders to the senior creditor EFSF/ESM to be less of a negative factor. Senior creditors account for 37% and 40% of total public debt in Ireland and Portugal, while the respective share in Spain is 11% (in case the maximum amount was drawn)."

Related: Austrian minister says Italy too may need bailout (Reuters)

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