Since a weekend agreement to save the banks involves first lending the money to Spain, there are concerns that taxpayers are ultimately on the hook for the banks’ bad decisions. Also, investors are worried that the deal raises Spain’s debt and deficit levels.
Eurostat, the European statistics agency, said Thursday that it was unclear how much the country’s deficit would rise because it depended on how it lent the money on to the banks. Part of that decision will depend on the interest rate the banks are given. If it’s too low, it could be considered more a gift than a loan and would count against the deficit.
Colombani said that under one plan being considered, the minimum for the rate would be 8.5 percent. Eurostat did not immediately respond to questions about whether that would be high enough to avoid having the loans count against deficit.
One group of investors has initiated legal action at Spain’s National Court to probe whether former directors at Bankia SA acted lawfully when selling shares in an entity that not long after asked the government for €19 billion in aid.
Lawyer Juan Moreno Yague said he had opened proceedings on behalf of investors to get a judge to investigate if directors had “presented false accounts to ensure that shareholders invested in a company they knew was in fact bankrupt.”
The paper said Rajoy has come under criticism in EU circles for presenting the bailout as a “light” measure and a victory for Spain and the euro, leading to an outcry for similar treatment by other austerity-saddled bailout countries such as Portugal and Ireland, which have had to struggle with heavy, externally imposed fiscal controls.
Speaking to the German parliament in Berlin on Thursday, Chancellor Angela Merkel insisted: “Spain is implementing the right reforms.”
“The Spanish Prime Minister is doing this with great courage and great determination,” she added.
Merkel again welcomed Spain’s move to apply for European funds to recapitalize its banks. “We know banks must be reasonably capitalized to do keep the economy afloat, that is the lesson from 2008, 2009,” she said.
“The faster Spain gets the application done, the better,” she said.
Spain’s benchmark stock index, the IBEX-35, closed up 1.2 percent Thursday in Madrid, according to financial data provider FactSet. The 10-year bond yield eased in the afternoon and closed at 6.87 percent, still a euro-era closing record.
• Daniel Woolls and Jorge Sainz in Madrid, Juergen Baetz in Berlin and Sarah DiLorenzo in Brussels contributed to this report.