The impact of rate hikes on Spain´s economy and financial sector

The impact of rate hikes on Spain´s economy and financial sector

Fecha: septiembre 2022
SEFO, Spanish and International Economic & Financial Outlook, V. 11 N.º 5 (September 2022)

Index

Housing markets ahead of the threat of recession

Despite the drop in household income as a result of inflation, the housing market has remained dynamic due to its safe-haven appeal, pent-up savings and abundant financing. This atypical trend may, however, be reaching an inflection point in the face of changing monetary conditions; nonetheless, we are not looking at a market standstill or a major increase in non-performing loans but rather a sharp slowdown of the current expansionary cycle, with the main risk to this baseline scenario stemming from the macroeconomic effects of the energy crisis and a worsening geopolitical context.

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Spain: Reduced vulnerability to gas rationing relative to other European countries

Spain´s lower expected reduction in demand under the pan European plan, together with a generally lower consumption of Russian gas by the country´s industry, translates into less sensitivity to current geopolitical tensions. Nonetheless, Spain will still be exposed to the risks generated by the adverse geopolitical environment heading into the autumn-winter.

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Spanish banks ahead of the return to positive interest rates

Now that interest rates are finally back in positive territory, banks have the opportunity to advance on the challenge of increasing profitability. However, prevailing macroeconomic conditions of uncertainty and pessimism, together with risks, both those carried over from the previous financial crisis and emergent ones, mean that translating rate increases into commensurate growth in banks’ earnings may not be so straight forward a task.

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Translating EURIBOR increases into improved banking margins: Differential timing on asset and liability repricing

After more than five years of abnormally low, even negative, interest rate levels in the case of the 12-month EURIBOR, the fact that rates have turned positive and look likely to stay there on a structural basis foreshadows a clearcut improvement in the banking sector’s net interest income. Irrespective of the clearly positive impact of the new rate scenario for the banks’, the transition will not be linear and before margins increase, they will likely dip.

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Monetary policy and business lending: Impact on pricing

The recent reversal of the ECB´s unconventional monetary policy is already driving interest rates higher, raising the risk of triggering an increase in corporate bankruptcies, which would increase the private sector´s marginal cost of borrowing even further. As interest rate hikes have started around the world, global central banks will have to determine whether or not they chose to live with inflation, or risk adverse consequences for the economy.

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Securing fiscal stability in the context of uncertainty

Decisive policy action in response to the pandemic at the EU and Spanish level has been more effective than measures taken to tackle the Great Recession; yet, recent support measures have clouded the outlook for fiscal stability. Ensuring compliance with the European fiscal rules and securing a path towards debt sustainability in the future will require defining today the reforms and targets needed to realign public revenue with expenditure.

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Income inequality in year one of the pandemic

Social protection measures rolled out by the government during the COVID-19 crisis strongly mitigated the negative effect of the pandemic on lower income households. However, public transfers were not enough to fully neutralize the increase in inequality in Spain, which must be attributed to more structural factors.

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