Spanish banks have been grappling with a sharp rise in toxic loans. More and more private and corporate borrowers are no longer able to pay their debts and are at least three months behind with their payments.
Spain's central bank reported on Friday that domestic lenders were sitting on a record number of non-performing loans. It said the value of credits at risk of never being repaid rose to 164.36 billion euros ($203.31 billion) in June.
That was equal to an unprecedented 9.42 percent of the lenders' total loan portfolio, the Bank of Spain announced. Toxic credits were thus up sharply from levels in the previous months when 8.96 percent of all loans could not be paid back by debtors.
The June figures meant the highest bad loan ratio ever recorded since the central bank started compiling such data back in 1962.
Spanish banks are eagerly awaiting the first installment of a rescue package potentially worth 100 billion euros, made available to the ailing lenders by eurozone authorities after they were exposed to a 2008 real estate crash.
The bulk of the loans will be disbursed as of November this year, with an emergency reserve of 30 billion euros likely to be made available earlier.
Despite harsh austerity measures, Spain's finances appear under rising pressure, given that investors have been demanding high interest rates for buying sovereign bonds. On Friday morning, the annual yield on Spanish government bonds with a 10-year maturity was just under 6.5 percent. But even though it was down from levels in previous weeks, the current rate is still broadly considered too high for Madrid to afford in the long term.
hg/msh (AFP, dapd)