A preview and assessment of Spain´s budget for 2023
IndexOutlook for the Spanish economy in the wake of the energy crisis
Spanish GDP growth for this year has been revised upwards and is now forecast at a solid 4.5%. Within a context of high uncertainty, underpinned by geopolitical tensions, high energy prices and tighter monetary policy, downside risks are significant and economic weakness will be more tangible in 2023, with inflation possibly easing somewhat, though remaining stubbornly high over the projection period.
General Budget and Budgetary Plan for 2023: A comprehensive analysis
An analysis on the 2023 Budget reveals there is little justification for concern over its consistency and sharply expansionary nature, failure to comply with the country-specific recommendation (CSR) or any mismatch between public spending and revenue. Nonetheless, a more accurate assessment of Spain’s public finances for 2023 will ultimately depend on the details and costs of the forthcoming package of additional fiscal measures for that year due to the war in Ukraine.
An assessment of the main revenue and expenditure figures in the 2023 general state budget
The 2023 general state budget is underpinned by an optimistic GDP forecast of 2.1%, which would unlock a reduction in the deficit from 5.0% in 2022 to 3.9% in 2023. Nonetheless, positive performance on the revenue side is underpinned mainly by sharp inflation, together with essentially temporary measures set to take effect in 2023, rather than tax reform, while expenditure figures are largely structural and also remain sensitive to upcoming decisions on extension of support measures into the coming year.
Social Security budget for 2023
While the indexation of contributory pensions constitutes the main driver of Social Security expenditure growth in 2023, an increase in the number of pensioners as well as growth in average pensions could prompt a greater than budgeted expenditure outlay. Although the budgetary deficit for 2023 will yet again be covered by state lending, the size of the contributory shortfall could reach 1.8% of GDP.
The ECB´s normalisation strategy: Uncertainty and legacies
The ECB is facing an extraordinary situation in which it is unable to rely on an economic slowdown alone to curb inflation. Only with decisive and swift action on normalisation of both interest rates and its monetary policy toolkit, comprised of legacy long-term liquidity injections and asset purchases, can the ECB prove its determination to bring inflation back in line with official targets and anchor inflation expectations.
TLTRO and bank liquidity in the new rate scenario
The ECB´s targeted longer-term refinancing operations, or TLTROs, were designed to be one of the key mechanisms to keep credit flowing through the banking system to the real economy during the crisis. Beyond the negative impact on banks´ earnings of recent changes to TLTRO terms in order to better align them with other monetary policy instruments, the European and Spanish banking systems have sufficient liquidity to handle the maturity or prepayment of their TLTRO funds, as well as to meet anticipated credit growth next year, thanks to their excess reserves, evolution of retail deposits and funds, and planned bond market issuance.
Rising interest rates: Initial effects on credit
Rising interest rates are rapidly translating into a considerable increase in borrowing costs, putting a strain on households and companies, which had grown accustomed to exceptionally lax financial conditions. In parallel, the increase in rates is already materializing in the form of some retrenchment in lending in Spain, particularly in the mortgage segment.
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 war in Ukraine), measures rolled out to mitigate the impact of those events have helped to avert an overall increase in Spanish banks’ non-performing loan ratios, albeit differences across industry sectors are noteworthy. However, given the challenging economic backdrop for 2023, non-performance will likely hit an inflexion point in the coming months, requiring the maintenance of adequate provisioning.