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18 CES Open Forum Series

Banks and the political economy of the sovereign debt crisis in Italy and Spain

Feb 18, 2014 Sebastián Royo and Lucia Quaglia


This paper sets out to explain why Spain experienced a full-fledged sovereign debt crisis and had to resort to euroarea financial assistance for its banks, whereas Italy did not. It undertakes a structured comparison, dissecting the sovereign debt crisis into a banking crisis and a balance of payments crisis. It argues that the distinctive fea- tures of bank business models and of national banking systems in Italy and Spain have considerable analytical leverage in explaining the different scenarios of the crises in each country. This ‘bank-based’ analysis contributes to the flourishing literature that examines changes in banking with a view to account for the differentiated impact of the global banking crisis first and the sovereign debt crisis in the euroarea later.