Adriene Hill: Markets in Asia are up this morning. Markets in Europe are mixed — Greece is way up, Spain is down.
We’ve got Austin Hughes with us to make sense of it all. He’s chief economist at KBC Bank in Ireland. Good morning, Austin.
Austin Hughes: Good morning.
Hill: Why are Greek markets cheering today?
Hughes: I think they’ve been buoyed by a couple of opinion polls over the weekend that show pro-austerity parties making some gains. Now, I think it’s still far too early to suggest that the election is going to deliver a government that will be able to deliver further austerity. But I think the sense that maybe the Greek electorate are having second thoughts about rejection of all things European is making Greek markets that little bit more optimistic.
Hill: Now let’s move onto Spain — why are markets there down?
Hughes: Well the contrast in terms of Greece and Spain is very significant. In the case of Greece, I think it is clear that people feel, ‘well we know how awful it could get,’ even if no one is exactly sure what life outside the euro might be like. In Spain however, there is a banking crisis and an economic crisis, and with each passing day, we get new estimates of the scale of the banking crisis. The new estimates from Bankia, in terms of the amount its going to require from the government, are unsettling markets. The uncertainty about the scale of the banking problems, and I suppose the uncertainty about the pace with which they’re being addressed is causing a lot of nervousness in Spain.
Hill: Austin Hughes is chief economist of KBC Bank in Ireland, thanks.
Hughes: You’re very welcome, good morning.
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