Focus has now shifted to Portugal and Spain. Ireland is a country with just 4.5 million people, whereas Portugal has 11.3 million and Spain has 46.0 million. People are now guessing at how big their bailout will be if they are needed.
According to The Telegraph:
Analysts estimate that a Portuguese bail-out might require less than euro 50 billion, less than the sum lent to Greece or Ireland. But rescuing Spain from crisis would require a much bigger sum.
Cornelia Meyer, CEO & Chairman, MRL Corporation, told CNBC Monday:
She predicted that a Spanish bailout would likely cost up to 500 billion euros; but there is no “real mechanism” to deal with it, Meyer added.
While a bailout of Portugal would likely be small, a bailout of Spain would be five times greater than that of Ireland.
One thing analysts are forgetting is that the PIIGS also includes Italy. If Italy, with it 60.4 million people, needs a bailout, it could eclipse Spain’s total. Nobody is talking about bailout for Italy, but nobody was talking about bailouts for Spain and Portugal just months ago. If Spain and Portugal take bailouts, focus will then shift to Italy.
If all five PIIGS need bailouts, we are talking about well over a trillion Euros. Good thing money grows on trees.
If this story sounds familiar, it should. It is eerily similar to the US banking crisis in 2008. First Bear Stearns went bankrupt. An isolated case. Then Lehman Brothers. OK, a second special situation. Next was AIG. Then Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and the rest suddenly needed help from the government. BofA, Wells Fargo, etc. may not have been in real trouble when the whole thing started. Instead, it was an old fashion bank run where depositors/investors get their money back because they don’t trust the banks and banking system. Now we are seeing the same thing in Europe. Ireland didn’t need a bailout… until last week when depositors withdrew billions of dollars from Irish banks. Today, Spain, Portugal, and Italy may not be in trouble, but if people start thinking they are “at risk,” they’ll withdraw their funds and it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
And all the bailouts in the world won’t end this madness until these countries get their fiscal and monetary houses in order. Until then, the sovereign debt crisis will spread from one country to another.