An analysis of non-performing loans: Spain in the European context
Fecha: noviembre 2022
Despite the intensity of the two crises sustained by the Spanish economy in the last three years (the COVID-19 crisis and the energy crisis exacerbated by the Ukraine-Russia war), the Spanish banks’ non-performing loan (NPL) ratio has not increased, in part thanks to the measures rolled out to mitigate the impact of those events (furlough and credit relief schemes, etc.). However, in the corporate segment, a detailed analysis by sector reveals considerable differences in absolute NPL ratios and in the trend in recent years. Although a majority of sectors has reported a decrease in their NPL ratios, in those more vulnerable to the impact of the pandemic, that ratio has increased, for example, in hospitality (whose NPL ratio has increased by 4 pp to 9.26%) and activities related with leisure and entertainment (up 7.6 pp to 14.75%). By comparison with the EU, the arts, recreation and entertainment sector stands out sharply, with an NPL ratio in Spain twice the European average. Given the downward revision of GDP growth forecasts for 2023, with high inflation leading to rate hikes and the attendant tightening of financing conditions, non-performance will in all likelihood hit an inflexion point in the coming months. Against that backdrop, the banks would be well advised not to relax their provisioning policies, in line with guidance from supervisory authorities.