Publications

Analytical Articles

The Analytical Articles present various subjects relating to the economy and finances of Spain, the euro area and the international environment. They seek to bring the papers and analyses of the Banco de España to the attention of a broad public audience interested in current economic and financial affairs.

Since January 2017, the Analytical Articles have been disseminated ahead of the publication of the related quarterly Economic Bulletin and are listed by release date or by subject.

All documents are available in PDF format PDF File. Opens in a new window

  • 09/08/2022
  • 04/08/2022
  • 03/08/2022
  • 27/07/2022
  • 26/07/2022
    Recent developments in financing and bank lending to the non-financial private sector. First half of 2022 (600 KB) Laura Álvarez, Pana Alves and Javier Delgado

    In 2022 to date there has been a tightening of financing conditions for firms and households, with a strong rise in the cost of corporate debt issuance and a contraction in the supply of loans. However, the pass-through of market interest rates to bank lending interest rates appears to be somewhat slower than in other historical bouts of interest rate hikes. Against this backdrop, the flow of new funding raised by households and firms and their outstanding debt have increased moderately or remained stable. Lending by deposit institutions (DIs) for non-financial business activities declined in 2022 Q1, more than offsetting the increase in the balance of loans for house purchase, while in April and May their joint performance was moderately expansionary. Since early 2022 and despite the worsening of the macro-financial environment, the credit quality of the DIs’ portfolio has continued to improve in general, except in the case of financing allocated to the sectors most affected by the pandemic, as well as in Official Credit Institute (ICO)-backed loans as a whole. The materialisation of adverse macro-financial scenarios might lead to less buoyancy in the volume of bank lending and the deterioration of its quality in the coming quarters.

  • 19/07/2022
    July 2022 Bank Lending Survey in Spain (664 KB) Álvaro Menéndez Pujadas and Maristela Mulino

    According to the Bank Lending Survey, during 2022 Q2 credit standards and credit terms and conditions tightened slightly, across all market segments, both in Spain and in the euro area. Meanwhile, loan applications declined or rose more moderately in both areas, in almost all segments. All this, against a backdrop of growing uncertainty (with a perception of increased risk) and monetary policy normalisation. This setting has also affected expectations for Q3, with banks expecting the contraction in credit supply to continue and demand to decline in almost all the segments analysed.

  • 15/07/2022
    Results of non-financial corporations in 2022 Q1 (797 KB) Roberto Blanco, Álvaro Menéndez and Maristela Mulino

    The Central Balance Sheet Data Office Quarterly Survey (CBQ) data show that corporate earnings and activity continued to recover in 2022 Q1. Against this background, average profitability levels increased relative to the same period in 2021, but remained below pre-pandemic values. The debt of the sample firms taken as a whole grew in 2022 Q1 compared with a year earlier, leading to a slightly higher average debt-to-asset ratio. Conversely, the average ratio of debt to ordinary earnings, which proxies repayment capacity, fell, helped by the recovery in earnings. The increase in ordinary profit also enabled the average interest coverage ratio to continue to decline, albeit at a slower pace than in 2021 on account of the rise in financial costs associated with the higher debt. This article includes a box analysing changes in the profit margins of the CBQ firms during the last year, an important question in the current setting of sharp cost increases. For the median firm in the sample, the profit margin has remained virtually unchanged. However, there is a high level of heterogeneity, not only across sectors, but also within each sector. The differences in the course of this variable are attributable to certain characteristics, such as the growth in costs, firms’ financial position and the buoyancy of their activity.

  • 08/07/2022
    Financial flows and balance sheets of households and non-financial corporations in 2021 (446 KB) Víctor García-Vaquero and Juan Carlos Casado

    The Financial Accounts of the Spanish Economy show that the financial situation of households and non-financial corporations strengthened in 2021. Unlike in 2020, households increased their outstanding debt in the form of bank loans, mainly loans for house purchase, in keeping with the real estate market’s greater buoyancy. However, given that household income grew more, their debt-to-income ratio fell by 1.6 percentage points to 91.9%. This remains, however, above its 2019 level. Non-financial corporations’ debt-to-GDP ratio also fell in 2021 (by 4.3 percentage points, to 80%). This was largely due to GDP growth, as their consolidated debt increased slightly. Turning to financial asset investment decisions, households continued the trend of recent years of increasing their holdings of bank deposits and investment fund shares or units, while – in keeping with the recovery in business activity and with lower concern for liquidity risks, respectively – firms granted a higher volume of trade finance and accumulated fewer liquid assets.

  • 06/07/2022
    The Balance of Payments and International Investment Position of Spain in 2021 (685 KB) Laura Álvarez, Pana Alves, Roberto Badás and César Martín

    On balance of payments statistics, in 2021 Spain’s net lending amounted to 1.8% of GDP (1.2% in 2020). This increase mainly reflected the partial recovery in the travel surplus, thanks to the improvement in the epidemiological situation prompted by the headway in vaccination, and the widening of the capital account surplus, boosted by the credits corresponding to Next Generation EU. This countered the deterioration in the goods deficit, against the backdrop of the rising energy bill. Meanwhile, Spain’s negative net international investment position decreased significantly (to 70.4% of GDP, its lowest level since 2006), thanks to the positive financial transactions with the rest of the world and, to a greater degree, GDP growth and the increase in value of external financial assets. Conversely, Spain’s gross external debt reached another all-time high (€2,329 billion) due to the assumption of new liabilities, particularly by general government and the Banco de España. However, it fell as a percentage of GDP thanks to economic growth.

  • 05/07/2022
    A volatility index for the Spanish banking sector (990 KB) Maria T. Gonzalez-Perez

    This article is a summary of the methodology proposed by Gonzalez-Perez (2021) for estimation of a volatility index for an asset portfolio on which no options have been issued. The methodology allows volatility indices to be constructed for personalised portfolios, using the options issued on the individual shares and a benchmark portfolio that provides information on the correlation risk premium between the assets in the portfolio concerned. This methodology and a benchmark portfolio representing the Spanish stock market (IBEX 35) are used to estimate a volatility index for the Spanish banking sector. The methodology proposed allows for adjustment of the benchmark portfolio according to the framework of uncertainty desired.
    A comparison between this sectoral volatility index and that of the Spanish stock market overall and other key indices shows that falls in bank share prices have a particularly strong correlation with growth in banking sector uncertainty, while share price rallies have a correlation with lower uncertainty either on the Spanish equity market or in the banking sector. Moreover, there is a persistent and positive volatility spread between the Spanish stock market and the banking sector. The fact that the Spanish banking sector has become more integrated following the global financial crisis, together with the gradual increase in correlation between bank portfolios, helps to explain this. In February 2022 this spread stood at around 20%. The Spanish banking sector volatility index moves parallel to its European equivalent, with an average historical spread of around 6%. Lastly, a significantly stronger correlation is found between the uncertainty priced into the banking sector and economic policy uncertainty than between the latter and the uncertainty priced into the market. These findings confirm that a measure of banking sector volatility provides important information, in addition to that provided by a measure of market volatility, which is extremely useful for monitoring and forecasting risk and returns in the Spanish banking sector.

  • 30/06/2022
    Recent economic performance of Spanish SMEs and developments in their access to external financing according to the European Central Bank's half-yearly Survey (352 KB) Álvaro Menéndez and Maristela Mulino

    The latest SAFE results show that the activity of Spanish SMEs continued to grow in the period from October 2021 to March 2022, albeit at a slower pace than six months earlier. The rise in costs prompted a deterioration in profits for most of these firms. Access to external finance is not a factor of concern for most SMEs; indeed, the indicator of obstacles to obtaining bank loans has held at very low values. However, the results show an interruption of the trend of improving availability of bank loans during the period analysed, linked to the SMEs’ pessimistic perception of the general economic environment. In addition, a significant percentage of SMEs reported an increase in financing costs. Against a backdrop of heightened uncertainty generated, among other factors, by the economic repercussions of the war in Ukraine, overall the respondent firms anticipated a deterioration in access to finance for the period April-September 2022.

  • 28/06/2022
    Developments in business solvency and demographics in Spain since the outbreak of the pandemic (390 KB) Roberto Blanco and Marina García

    The COVID-19 crisis has had a significant impact on the economy and affected Spanish businesses’ economic and financial situation, albeit with high sectoral heterogeneity. This article analyses how this crisis has affected business solvency and demographics in Spain by means of various indicators. The analysis shows that to date this shock has had a very moderate impact compared with previous crises, largely thanks to the measures deployed by the economic authorities to mitigate its effects. However, there are some latent risks that could materialise, especially if the economic recovery proves to be less robust than anticipated.

  • 31/05/2022
    Economic consequences of a hypothetical suspension of Russia-EU trade (388 KB) Javier Quintana

    A hypothetical interruption of energy commodity imports from Russia could significantly affect the Spanish economy. The difficulty of replacing these products in the short term would reduce the energy supply and compound the current inflationary episode, both of which would weigh on economic activity. However, since Spain is less energy dependent on Russia than other European economies, the effects on the Spanish economy would be notably smaller. Lastly, the impact would be amplified due to the shock propagating through global production chains, with a particularly marked effect on certain sectors of activity. The interruption of exports or imports of other goods would also adversely affect the European economies, although it would have a more limited impact than in the case of energy commodities.

  • 25/05/2022
    The response of private investment to an increase in public investment (468 KB) Mario Alloza, Danilo Leiva-León and Alberto Urtasun

    Since the 2008 crisis, public investment as a proportion of GDP has declined significantly both in Spain and in other euro area countries. That trend recently came to an end, given that public expenditure has been bolstered in response to the health crisis and will be further reinforced in Spain by the EU funds received under the Next Generation EU (NGEU) programme. Public investment’s effect on economic activity will depend, among other factors, on its impact on private investment, the sign of which is, a priori, ambiguous. This article assesses the short-term relationship between public and private investment using the structural vector autoregressive (SVAR) approach. The results suggest that, on average, increases in public investment in Spain tend to generate a positive impact on private investment. In particular, an increase of 1% in public investment would be associated with an equivalent increase in private investment in the short term. This finding underscores the important role that NGEU could play in economic developments in the years ahead.

  • 05/05/2022
    The effect of workplace pension schemes on households' private savings (528 KB) Marina Gómez-García and Ernesto Villanueva

    The tax incentive enjoyed by workplace pension schemes could encourage participants to increase their total savings or, alternatively, crowd out savings that would have materialised in other financial vehicles in the absence of this incentive. This article uses data from the Spanish Survey of Household Finances to estimate the additional savings generated by this type of scheme. To this end, the financial position of workplace pension scheme participants is compared to that of a group of workers of similar ages, with similar educational attainment levels and occupations, but who do not participate in such schemes. Once the comparable group is constructed, it can be seen that, on average, each euro saved in workplace pension schemes increases private savings by around 66 cents. This is the ratio of the difference in average net wealth between participants and their comparable group (€13,600) to the average amount accumulated in pension schemes (€20,600). Once adjusted for the fact that contributions are tax-exempt, the additional savings generated amount to around 31 cents for every euro contributed, calculated as the ratio of the €6,500 difference in tax-relief-adjusted wealth between the two groups to the average amount accumulated in workplace pension schemes.

  • 27/04/2022
    The effect of TLTRO III on Spanish credit institutions´ balance sheets (473 KB) M.ª Carmen Castillo Lozoya, Enrique Esteban García-Escudero and M.ª Luisa Pérez Ortiz

    With the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, the ECB’s Governing Council modified the conditions of the TLTRO III, aiming to facilitate the flow of bank credit to the real economy. The new conditions encouraged an unprecedented level of take-up of the Eurosystem’s refinancing operations by credit institutions. In the case of Spain, all participating banks met the eligible net lending target (that is, loans to non-financial corporations and households, except loans to households for house purchases) established for the period March 2020 to March 2021. To ascertain the impact on banks’ balance sheets of this huge liquidity injection via TLTRO III, this article identifies four strategies – lending, holding reserves at the Banco de España, purchase of government debt and substitution for market funding – that banks could implement after applying for TLTRO III funding. The conclusion drawn is that there is a significant relationship between participation in TLTRO III and eligible lending and reserve holding strategies.

  • 19/04/2022
    The performance of investment in capital goods during the pandemic and the role of its sectoral composition (527 KB) Matías Pacce

    The COVID-19 crisis has had a very uneven impact on the different productive sectors of the economy, with those requiring less personal contact or that are less labour-intensive, such as industry, being the least affected. This appears to have been a determining factor behind the buoyancy observed in investment in capital goods during the current crisis, as the sectors representing a higher relative share of investment are those that, broadly speaking, have been more resilient. The drive towards digitalisation and e-commerce has also helped cushion the fall in this aggregate in the current crisis, as they require investing in the relevant equipment. Furthermore, unlike in previous recessions, the relatively favourable financing conditions have helped prevent this factor from being an additional constraint in tackling planned investment projects. Lastly, general government has also played a key role in sustaining investment in capital goods during this crisis, given the effort required in terms of digitalisation in order to continue providing services in a setting marked by mobility restrictions and the need to acquire equipment to deal with the health emergency.

  • 12/04/2022
    April 2022 Bank Lending Survey in Spain (560 KB) Álvaro Menéndez Pujadas and Maristela Mulino

    According to the Bank Lending Survey, during 2022 Q1 credit standards in business lending tightened both in Spain and in the euro area as a whole, against a backdrop of greater concern for the risks associated with the impact of the energy crisis and, more recently, the war in Ukraine. There were no significant changes in credit standards in Spain in the two household lending segments. Loan applications continued to increase moderately in both areas, across almost all segments. For Q2, supply is expected to contract, more intensely in business lending, both in Spain and in the euro area, in a setting of greater uncertainty associated with the effects of the war in Ukraine. Lastly, as regards the non-standard monetary policy measures of the European Central Bank (ECB), banks expect the favourable effects on their financial position and lending policy to diminish over the coming months, reversing their sign in some cases, against a background of gradual monetary policy normalisation.

  • 25/03/2022
    Results of non-financial corporations to 2021 Q4. Preliminary year-end data (686 KB) Álvaro Menéndez and Maristela Mulino.

    Data from the Central Balance Sheet Data Office Quarterly Survey (CBQ) show that corporate earnings and activity increased significantly in 2021. However, the recovery was dampened in Q4 at the firms most exposed to rising energy costs. Against this background, average profitability levels rose significantly compared with 2020, albeit remaining below pre-pandemic values. The overall debt of the sample firms grew in 2021, leading to a slight increase in the average debt-to-assets ratio. Conversely, the average ratio of debt to ordinary earnings, which proxies repayment capacity, fell, helped by the recovery in corporate earnings. The average interest coverage ratio also decreased. This was due to both the lower cost of outstanding debt and higher ordinary earnings. Following the sharp rise in the previous year, liquidity ratios declined at most firms and sectors, against a less uncertain backdrop. The article includes a box analysing recent developments in the degree of financial vulnerability of CBQ firms. It shows that, after the severe downturn in 2020, there was a clear improvement in 2021. However, they remained more financially vulnerable than in 2019.

  • 15/03/2022
    Recent developments in lending to non-financial corporations: supply and demand factors (448 KB) Roi Barreira, Sergio Mayordomo, Irene Roibás and Manuel Ruiz-García

    Since summer 2020, resident banks’ lending to non-financial corporations has been sluggish. In the wake of the impact of the health crisis, this has been against a backdrop of weak demand, a relatively steady supply of bank lending and an increase in financing obtained through issuance of debt securities. An analysis drawing on the granular information both of firms and banks confirms that this loss of momentum in bank lending is explained essentially by demand factors. In particular, there are signs that some firms have been using part of the liquidity buffers they built up in 2020, and that large corporations have replaced part of their bank lending with issuance of debt securities. The analysis also suggests that supply factors linked to the amount of capital available to banks are not an important factor in explaining the weakness of lending to non-financial corporations during the period considered.

  • 01/02/2022
    January 2022 Bank Lending Survey in Spain (724 KB) Álvaro Menéndez Pujadas and Maristela Mulino

    According to the Bank Lending Survey, during 2021 Q4 credit standards tightened slightly in Spain, while remaining virtually unchanged in most segments in the euro area. The terms and conditions applied to new loans did not change significantly in either of the two areas, the sole exception being those applied in Spain to the loans to households for house purchase segment, which eased slightly. Loan applications increased moderately in both Spain and the euro area, across almost all segments, in keeping with the recovery in economic activity.

  • 31/01/2022
    The challenge of measuring digital platform work (500 KB) Marina Gómez García and Laura Hospido

    The article presents an overview of digital platform work in Spain and analyses the challenge of quantifying this work in view of the lack of reliable and comprehensive data available. Digital platforms are technological infrastructures that act as intermediaries, facilitating interaction between two or more persons, for the provision of services through IT applications in exchange for payment. Although it is estimated that platform work accounts for less than 5% of the global workforce, this share is expected to increase.
    In 2018, according to the COLLEEM survey, platform work was the main job of 2.6% of the Spanish population over 16. Including occasional platform work, the figure rose to 18.5%, the highest percentage among the 16 European countries included in the survey. Nevertheless, in practice it is difficult to obtain precise figures, since to date official statistics are not designed to include the gig economy.
    The article compares the demographic characteristics of platform workers in Spain, according to the COLLEEM survey, and those of self-employed workers and employees according to two Spanish surveys of individuals and households, namely the 2018 Labour Force Survey (Encuesta de Población Activa) and the 2017 Survey of Household Finances (Encuesta Financiera de las Familias). The comparison shows that digital platform workers make up a specific group that is not directly comparable with either employees or the self-employed.
    To conclude, a number of ways to obtain a better measure of digital platform work are considered. One option would be to include direct questions on these work arrangements in employment survey questionnaires. Another would be to develop integrated datasets, combining the information from administrative records, which include digital platform activities, with surveys of the workers included in those records. In any event, in order for these administrative records and surveys to reflect platform work accurately, labour legislation needs to clearly define the relationship between those providing the services and the platforms.

  • 20/01/2022
    The EU-MERCOSUR trade agreement and its impact on CO2 emissions (385 KB) Rodolfo Campos, Marta Suárez-Varela and Jacopo Timini

    In 2019 the European Union (EU) and the Latin American countries that make up the Common Market of the South (Mercosur) reached a political agreement to sign, ratify and implement a trade agreement between the two blocs. This agreement is expected to bring trade and welfare benefits on both sides of the Atlantic. The impact estimated for the EU will be similar to that of other recent agreements, such as that entered into with Japan. However, the EU-Mercosur “agreement in principle” has raised concerns owing to its potential impact on the environment and climate, even though it includes strict provisions in these areas and entails very few changes to the tariff and non-tariff measures adopted for agricultural imports from Mercosur. This article focuses on a specific aspect of the EU-Mercosur agreement’s potential environmental impact, namely, the change envisaged in global CO2 emissions. Despite the uncertainty associated with such estimations, when using a standard general equilibrium model, the increase in CO2 emissions deriving from this agreement is found to be limited. Moreover, in certain plausible scenarios, application of the very stringent environmental standards provided for in the agreement in principle could even lower emissions in Mercosur countries.

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