Bond buyers demand higher interest rates from Spain adding to the financial pressure

06/16/2010 10:30 am EST

Focus: STOCKS

Jim Jubak

Founder and Editor, JubakPicks.com

Spain took another step closer to becoming the next Greece yesterday, June 15.

In case you’ve been on vacation for the last six months or so that’s not a good thing.

An auction of 12- and 18-month Spanish government bill raised $6.4 billion but the interest rate on the 12-month bills demanded by investors was 2.3%. That’s a huge 0.7 percentage points more than Spain paid last month.

The fear now running through European financial markets is that at some point not too far in the future the cost of financing its debt will rise too high and Spain will have to tap into the rescue fund set up by Euro Zone countries after the Greek bailout.

It looks like Spain is trying to avoid taking this route by calling on its banks to buy more government debt. That’s exactly what Greece did in the early stages of its crisis.

And all that does is increase the odds that a sovereign debt crisis will become a wider Spanish financial crisis.

Spain’s debt load is only roughly half that of Greece (which stood at 115% of GDP recently) but the country relies on overseas investors to finance that debt. The country needs to finance about $60 billion in debt by the end of August.

If you really want something to worry about think about this: there are signs, still very preliminary, that the bond market is starting to think beyond Spain. Next on the list of worry beads are Italy (of course), Belgium (small stuff) and France (surprise!). France needs to raise 25% of GDP in financing this year.

Yeah, the euro debt crisis is over.

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