SPAIN has finally had a bit of good news.
Despite tens of thousands protesting over austerity cuts around the country and Cataluna pushing for independence, Spain’s banks at least look stronger than initially thought.
It has emerged that only seven of the country’s 14 biggest banks have failed the so-called ‘stress tests’ designed to assess the assistance they need.
The other half, including Banco Santander, La Caixa and Unicaja, have clean bills of health.
It means the shortfall of ‘just’ €59.3 billion is well under the initial €100 billion figure first set aside by Brussels for a bank bailout.
Banco Popular is one of the banks suffering, with shortfall of €2.5 billion, and Bankia needs a total of €24.7 billion.
Catalan bank Catalunya Caixa also failed its test and will need a capital injection of €10.8 billion.
It comes as the region made a further bid for independence on an apparently strong economy compared with the rest of Spain.
Catalans are convinced they are unfairly supporting the rest of the country, and their campaign is gathering momentum.
If president Artur Mas wins a second term on November 25 he has vowed to stage a referendum, despite this being illegal under the Spanish constitution.
“It is time to take the risk. The moment has come for Cataluna to exercise its right to self-determination,” said Mas.
Anti-austerity protests were staged last week by tens of thousands of angry Spaniards, in Madrid on Tuesday and spreading to Barcelona, Zaragoza and even Portugal by Saturday.
The demonstrators were outraged by tax cuts, unemployment and the €20 billion of further cuts announced in last Thursday’s budget.