Business, Economics and Jobs

Spanish banks need up to $76 billion to stay afloat, assessment finds


Demonstrators take part in an anti-austerity protest in Madrid on Sept. 22, 2012. Hundreds of Spaniards marched in Madrid to protest over hardships in a recession brought on by the financial crisis that they blame on banks and corrupt politicians.



An anxiously anticipated assessment of Spain's failing banks published Friday found that the financial institutions need as much as $76.38 billion in extra capital to stay afloat, The New York Times reported.

A total of 14 struggling banks were assessed for their levels of need and their ability to withstand further funding shortaged. Half of the banks looked at will be able to survive without emergency funds, according to the audit, the Times reported.

CNN Money reported that the estimate of funds needed is at the low end of the range that had been expected by analysts. Spain faces a crisis not unlike that experienced in the United States in 2008 and 2009, with mortgage and loan debt contributing significantly to the current instability and capital shortages faced by banks.

Financial consultant Oliver Wyman, who released the audit, told CNN: "The results confirm that the Spanish banking sector is mostly solvent and viable, even in an extremely adverse and highly unlikely macroeconomic setting," said Wyman.

On Thursday, Spain's government announced a new budget that included plans for spending cuts "and left the door open for a European bailout package," Reuters reported.

Spain suffers from the highest unemployment rate in the euro zone, and thousands have taken to the streets in recent months to protest austerity measures.

Richard C. Eichenberg, a political science professor at Tufts University, told GlobalPost that the biggest risk for Spain's economy now would be austerity without growth.

"The greatest threat to the Spanish banks is the fact that for the foreseeable future … the prospects for any real growth in the Spanish economy are dim," he said.

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