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Spain's bailout: Good idea or moral hazard?

Spanish protesters demonstrate against banking abuses in front of the headquarters of Spanish bank Bankia on June 2, 2012 in Madrid.

Jeremy Hobson: Well whenever these bailouts happen, whether for banks or for countries, there's the question of moral hazard. If you bail someone out, do others stop trying to fix their own problems and assume they'll be bailed out as well?

Reporter Christopher Werth has that part of the story.


Christopher Werth: Think of moral hazard like this: If your neighbor were to stop paying their mortgage, but the bank forgave them and let them keep the house, wouldn't everyone on your block want the same deal. In this case, since Spanish banks got a bailout without the government having to impose new spending cuts, will other European countries see an opportunity?

Stefan Schneider is a chief economist at Deutsche Bank.

Stefan Schneider: You are risking that other countries are saying OK if country A got a better deal, we want to have a better deal.

Take Greece, which heads into an election next week. Some candidates are saying they want to stay in the euro, but without the tough budget cuts. But Schneider says Spain's bailout shows that countries that work to control their deficits, like Spain has done, will be rewarded with favorable terms.

Schneider: It's a good incentive and not a moral hazard at all.

Philip Whyte of the Centre for European Reform says there are times when it's right to be concerned about moral hazard, and there are times when it's not.

Philip Whyte: You know the eurozone is possibly weeks or months away from break up and it seems to me that middle of an existential crisis is a very dangerous time to be excessively worried about moral hazard.

In London, I'm Christopher Werth for Marketplace.

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