“The complex macrofinancial situation characterized by high inflation, the tightening of financing conditions and the increase in uncertainty, which has already caused a slowdown in economic activity in the third quarter, will fully affect the economy of families, companies and the public sector”, assured yesterday the Governor of the Bank of Spain, Pablo Hernández de Cos, in a financial session.
The director explained that "if interest rates were increased by 300 basis points, there would be an increase in the proportion of households with a high financial burden of 3.9 basis points, reaching 13.8% of the population." This means that the percentage of indebted households with a high financial burden would increase (when their financial expenses minus their financial income represent more than 40% of their income). In other words, they would become vulnerable clients for the bank, which in practice means that a good part of these families could not afford to pay their mortgages.
Another effect that Hernández de Cos put on the table is that the rise in energy prices will mean that the energy budget of families will go from the current 10% to 12.5%.
And as for requesting loans, Hernández de Cos made it very clear: "Mortgage loans grow steadily at a rate slightly above 1%", but consumer loans decrease at rates of around 4% ".
The governor emphasized that attention will have to be paid in the coming months to the residential real estate sector, since "certain exuberance in recent quarters" is being appreciated. In this sense, he highlighted that home sales reached growth rates of over 20% in the first half of 2022 and new credit for home purchases increased by 15%. In addition, he recalled that "the rate of change in housing prices accelerated to 8%, confirming a certain overvaluation of prices."
In this context of instability, the bankers present at the event Gonzalo Gortázar (CaixaBank), José Antonio Álvarez (Santander), César González-Bueno (Sabadell) and Manuel Menéndez (Unicaja Banco) requested more moratoriums for vulnerable people when to face the payment of their mortgages, although it is necessary to study case by case. On the contrary, they refused to cap mortgages. The CEO of Sabadell, González-Bueno, assured that the bank has to look for "reasonable and reasoned solutions and not directed from a political point of view". In his opinion, it is a measure "that avoids dramatic situations, such as evictions." In his opinion, the focus of concern is on variable rate mortgages granted in the last five years and in which the principal has not been paid”. Regarding the banking tax that the Government plans, the first swords of the banking system in Spain made it clear that it will be appealed, but it is time to wait for the measure to be approved. For José Antonio Álvarez, from Santander, the process "does not respect, discriminates and has questionable elements."