Irish Tell Spain To Imagine The Worst In Banking Bailout

Friday, June 15, 2012
By Paul Martin

By Dara Doyle and Joe Brennan
Bloomberg.com
Jun 14, 2012

Ireland has this banking advice for Spain: imagine the worst and double it.

Like Ireland, Spain sought a bank bailout after being felled by a real-estate crash. Now, just as the Irish did, the Spanish are awaiting the results of outside stress tests gauging the size of the hole in the banking system.

“Think of the worst possible scenario on banking losses: then double it,” said Eoin Fahy, an economist at Kleinwort Benson Investors in Dublin. “Adopt the most conservative assumptions.”
Nine hundred miles northwest of Madrid, Irish analysts wring three lessons from its own banking crisis, among the worst in history. First, quickly present an accurate estimate of the bad loans. Second, force banks to face up to losses, possibly through the creation of a so-called bad bank. Third, share as much of the loss as possible with bank bondholders.

“Spain should face the economic reality, even if they have to value property loans at discounts of 40, 60 or even 80 percent,” said Alan Ahearne, former economic adviser to Brian Lenihan, the finance minister who presided over Ireland’s response to the near-collapse of its financial system. “If the real losses aren’t faced up to, who’s that going to fool?”

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