Spanish bailout 'impossible' for eurozone, says prime minister Mariano Rajoy
The eurozone is not equipped to bail out Spain, the country's prime minister Mariano Rajoy has admitted, as global traders continued to punish the nation's stocks and bonds.
A demonstrator stands next to a barricade of burning tires in Barcelona during protests last monthPhoto: Getty Images
Mr Rajoy said it was "not possible to rescue Spain" but insisted his country did not need a Greek-style international bail-out anyway.
"To talk about a bail-out for Spain at the moment makes no sense," he told reporters. "Spain is not going to be rescued; it's not possible to rescue Spain, there's no intention to, it's not necessary and therefore it's not going to be rescued."
Despite his comments, the Madrid bourse fell and the yields on the country's benchmark bonds remained stubbornly high. While other European markets soared on Thursday following strong gains in America, Spain's Ibex index lost 0.5pc.
Politicians in Rome tried to counter the markets' view that Italy was in the same predicament as Spain.
Vittorio Grilli, Italy's deputy finance minister, said "markets are very nervous" but added: "We cannot talk about a derby between Italy and Spain."
Italy managed to raise €4.88bn (£4.03bn) at a bond auction but only by paying a markedly higher price. The bulk of the bonds - €2.88bn - were sold at a yield of 3.89pc, up from 2.76pc at an auction on March 14.
Analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch said: "Although Spain and Italy face very different economic and fiscal issues, their yields are largely moving in tandem."
Meanwhile, the Greek unemployment rate rose to 21.8pc, according to fresh figures from the national statistics office. During 2011, the average annual jobless rate soared to 17.7pc from 12.5pc the year before, revealing the toll of the crisis and resulting austerity measures that have seen one-in-10 jobs destroyed. One-in-five Greeks is now jobless, including 50.8pc of those aged under 25. The rate is twice as high as the eurozone average.
Christine Lagarde, the boss of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), also warned that Europe's rescue mechanisms were not enough to restore confidence to global markets but said the IMF could provide a "global firewall".
Speaking in Washington on Thursday, Ms Lagarde, who is seeking to raise $500bn (£313.4bn) in extra funds for the IMF from the G20, warned risks to the global economy "remain high; the situation fragile".
"We need a broader approach – and a stronger global firewall – if we are to push back this crisis. The IMF can help. But to be as effective as possible, we need to increase our resources."