Spain’s Reluctance to Seek Bailout Justified: OECD’s Gurria
Spain's reluctance to ask for a bailout was justified, said Angel Gurria, the secretary general of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), as there were signals that any calls for help by Madrid may be rejected.
Spain's government has been expected to seek help from the euro zone bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), to help ease pressure on its finances and economy, which is in recession . However, Madrid has so far resisted because such assistance comes in return for fiscal reforms.
"If you are the leader of a country that has done everything that had to be done, and then the ECB (European Central Bank ), works on the secondary markets for you and lowers those yields and (yet) you are told that you have to go and ask for a (bailout) and you say, 'OK, ' but then you're given very strong signals that if you go, you will be told, 'No.' How can you reconcile those two things?" Gurria told CNBC on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund's semi-annual meetings in Tokyo.
Germany, Europe's biggest creditor country, has suggested Spain should hold off on asking for aid. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said earlier this month that Spain is taking the right steps to overcome its fiscal problems and did not need to ask for a bailout. (Read More: Schäuble and Lagarde Clash Over Austerity.)
"This is not about Spain (being reluctant), this is about the rest of the (EU) members suggesting that if they come (for help), they will not be welcome, " Gurria said. "Now the worst thing that could happen for a leader, after these agonizing three months, is to make up his mind and ask for the money and be rejected. That would be ridiculed."
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has been under intense pressure in recent months, pushing through a series of austerity measures in the face of popular unrest, in an effort to bring down the budget deficit and reassure investors that the government can control its finances.
The ECB said last month that it would buy the bonds of those euro zone countries facing financial pressure once they applied to the region's bailout fund.
These steps have helped ease investor worries and push benchmark 10-year government bond yields, which soared above 7 percent in July, down to under 6 percent.
Still, concerns about Spain's economy remain and on Wednesday ratings agency Standard & Poor's cut Spain's sovereign debt rating to one notch above junk status. (Read More: Will S&P Ratings Cut Finally Push Spain Into a Bailout?)
"I think that the bond yields in Italy and Spain do not reflect what these countries have done. I think we are very good at punishing those countries that do not perform but, we are not good at supporting, and helping and even protecting those countries that are performing but under market pressure, " Gurria said.
—By CNBC's Dhara Ranasinghe