Spanish intelligence probing debt "attacks"-report

MADRID Sun Feb 14, 2010 8:28am EST

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MADRID Feb 14 (Reuters) - Spain's intelligence services are investigating the role of investors and media in debt market turbulence over the last few weeks, El Pais reported on Sunday.

Citing unnamed sources, El Pais said the National Intelligence Centre (CNI) was looking into "speculative attacks" on Spain following the Greek debt crisis.

"The (CNI's) Economic Intelligence division...is investigating whether investors' attacks and the aggressiveness of some Anglo-Saxon media are driven by market forces and challenges facing the Spanish economy, or whether there is something more behind this campaign," El Pais said.

Officials at the CNI were not available for comment.

The report comes days after Public Works Minister Jose Blanco protested "somewhat murky manoeuvres" were behind financial market pressure on Spain.

"None of what is happening in the world, including the editorials of foreign newspapers, is coincidental or innocent," Blanco said.

Economists have cast doubt on forecasts that Spain's economy will grow by some 3 percent by 2012, on which the government has based predictions it will cut back on its gaping budget deficit.

Some economists have said Spain's deficit could be more of a threat than Greece to the euro, the common currency of 16 European countries.

Spain's deficit has soared to 11.4 percent of its gross domestic product amid its deepest recession in decades, but the government has pledged to cut the gap back to a eurozone limit of 3 percent by 2013 by cutting 50 billion euros in spending.

Markets doubt that Spain will be able to cut back drastically on spending with unemployment running at 20 percent and a big slice of the budget in the hands of fiercely independent regional governments.

Underscoring those doubts, the premium demanded by investors for buying Spanish rather than German government bonds ES10YT=RR has risen in recent weeks and the cost of insuring Spanish bonds against default by the government has also risen. (Reporting by Martin Roberts; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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