The war in Ukraine and implications for Spain

The war in Ukraine and implications for Spain

Fecha: marzo 2022
SEFO, Spanish and International Economic & Financial Outlook, V. 11 N.º 2 (March 2022)

Index

The conflict in Ukraine and the Spanish economy

The invasion of Ukraine is adding upward pressure to energy markets, which were already the main obstacle to Spain’s recovery before the conflict. The precise effects of the crisis will depend on its scale and duration, but already the projections are for markedly higher inflation, significant cuts in consumer purchasing power and lower economic growth.

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The 2021 labour market reform: A preliminary assessment

The 2021 labour reform represents a broad social agreement that dissipates some uncertainties over labour relations since the approval of the previous reform in 2012; however, the reform is not sufficiently ambitious to tackle many of the structural problems affecting the Spanish labour market. Preliminary evidence points to some favourable improvement in labour market trends following the reform´s implementation, but the coming years will be key to determining its ultimate success.

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The recovery of the Spanish mortgage market

Spain’s mortgage market is recovering gradually in the wake of the pandemic, with new transactions outstripping loan repayments. This recovery, however, is very recent, and has not yet consolidated, with lingering and new sources of uncertainty affecting savings and borrowing patterns in ways that are difficult to gauge.

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EMU peripheral sovereign debt: Resilience in the face of monetary policy and geopolitical risks

Looming ECB policy normalisation will likely lead to the rebalancing of relative prices for EMU peripheral sovereign debt. Nonetheless, improved economic fundamentals, the ECB’s commitment to preventing fresh episodes of financial fragmentation and favourable prospects for European integration should help reduce the risk of episodes of intense stress in the eurozone sovereign debt markets.

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Spain´s dependence on foreign capital flows and the need for improved public debt sustainability

Seven countries currently account for over two-thirds of total foreign investment into Spain. To shore up international investor confidence, Spain needs to make its public debt more sustainable, a task that is currently more pressing given the potential for an increase in risk premium within the context of a normalisation of ECB monetary policy.

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Implications for Spain of the reform of the EU´s fiscal rules

Spain, being one of the countries hardest hit by the crisis and with pronounced fiscal imbalances, has a lot at stake in the process currently underway of reforming the EU´s fiscal rules. As various European and national actors debate their positions, Spain´s seat at the negotiating table could be further strengthened by a commitment to credible fiscal consolidation in the medium-term.

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Cost of equity for Spanish and European banks

The banks’ earnings recovery in 2021, and the prospect of rate normalisation in the relatively near future, drove significant growth in the Spanish and European banks’ share prices up until the outbreak of the crisis between Russia and Ukraine injected fresh market volatility. Nevertheless, the perception remains that the banks’ return on equity (ROE) does not sufficiently cover the estimated cost the market attributes to that capital (COE); however, if recent favourable ROE performance is sustainable over time, there could be significant room for upside in bank stock valuations.

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