10 MAR 2011
Political paralysis in Brussels and monetary tightening by the European Central Bank has set off a fresh spasm of the eurozone bond crisis, pushing spreads on Portuguese, Irish and Greek bonds to post-EMU records.
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard | The Telegraph
Portugal edged closer to the brink yesterday, having to pay almost 6pc to raise two-year debt. The yield on 10-year bonds briefly surged to 7.8pc after the Chinese rating agency Dagong downgraded the country's debt to BBB+.
"These levels of interest rates are not sustainable over time," said Carlos Costa Pina, secretary of the Portuguese Treasury, blaming the latest upset on the lack of a coherent EU debt strategy rather any failing by Portugal to deliver on austerity.
Mr Costa Pina rebuffed calls by leading economists in Portugal for an EU-IMF bail-out rather than drawing out the agony. "It is not justified. Portugal doesn't need external help, it needs urgent measures by the EU to restore market confidence."
David Owen from Jefferies Fixed Income said last week's shock move by the ECB to pre-announce rate rises had tightened credit and effectively doomed the country. "The ECB by its actions has made it inevitable that Portugal will need a bail-out. There are parallels with the actions of the Bundesbank during the ERM crisis in 1992," he said.
Mr Owen said the ECB is playing brinkmanship with EU leaders, pressuring them to come up with a grand solution to the debt crisis at summits this month. It is a dangerous game. "Spain is not yet safe. It has €2.5 trillion of combined household and company debt. That is an awful lot," he said
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