Spain has admitted it faces problems refinancing itself in financial markets due to the high interest rates it is being required to pay. But an EU bailout isn't an alternative, it insists.
International financial markets were "de facto closed" to Spain, Budget Minister Cristobal Montoro told the radio station "Onda Cero" Tuesday, as exorbitant risk premiums for Spanish government bonds were a "serious problem" for refinancing the country's debt.
On Friday, the risk premium for Spanish 10-year debt compared to the German equivalent hit a record eurozone high of 548 basis points.
Investors are concerned that Spain will need a bailout from the eurozone rescue fund to support its struggling banking system and its heavily indebted autonomous regions.
In obvious reference to EU bureaucrats behind any rescue plan, Montoro was asked whether the "men in black" would now come to Spain to take over the country.
Montoro said that Spain "doesn't need" EU financial supervisors, as the government was itself able to "balance the budget, to return to stability through constitutional reform, to clean up the banking sector, and to improve labor relations."
Ahead of a crucial test of market sentiment on Thursday, in which Spain seeks to auction off up to 2 billion euros ($2.5 billion) in medium- and long-term bonds, Montoro said that refinancing Spain's debt through the eurozone rescue fund was "technically impossible."
"Spain cannot be rescued in the technical sense of the term, and Spain does not need that," he told Onda Cero radio without clarifying what he meant by that.
Economists fear that the eurozone's fourth largest economy was too big and too heavily indebted to be rescued by the eurozone bailout fund, the so-called European Stability Mechanism (ESM).
Spain's debt-stricken bank Bankia alone needs funding to the tune of 23.5 billion euros to repair a balance sheet which is deeply in the red due to bad loans from the collapse of the Spanish property market in 2008.
Montoro also said that neither Germany nor France was urging the Spanish government to accept an EU bailout.
Insisting that Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's conservative government had a "mandate to reform," Montoro said that it would finish the task that the Spaniards had given it, adding that the country's future would remain "in Europe, and in the euro."
uhe/mll (AFP, Reuters)