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Spain Needs Bailout Urgently: Former ECB Board Member

Monday, 12 Nov 2012 | 6:34 AM ET

While Greece needs more time to complete austerity measures and repay its debts, Spain on the other hand needed a bailout "yesterday," according to Lorenzo Bini Smaghi, former European Central Bank executive board member.

Bloomberg

Bini Smaghi told CNBC that Spain must not waste any more time and that it needed to apply for help from Europe's bailout fund.

"They need to revitalize the economy and they need lower interest rates [and] the only way to do that [is] to request a program," he said, adding that Spain should have done so "yesterday."

The ECB unveiled its unlimited bond-buying program in September, aimed at helping countries such as Spain. The Spanish economy is in recession and unemployment is above 25 percent, but Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has so far deferred asking for aid from the ECB because of the tough conditionality such a program could impose on Madrid.

"You need to benefit from the intervention of the ECB in order to do that you have to apply for a program," Bini Smaghi said, adding that "the economy already requires it."

But Spain has already benefited from the ECB announcement and has seen its debt costs fall. Last week, Spain was able to raise 4.8 billion euros ($6.1 billion) in an auction that included long-term debt. The auction helped it exceed its debt issuance target for the year, lowering the need for EU assistance.

(Read More: Spain Bond Auction Lowers Chance of Aid Request)

But Bini Smaghi suggested that Spain needed even lower interest rates than it currently enjoys.

"When you have an economy which is in recession, [rates have] to be much closer to the level in Germany than the level currently paid by Spain," Bini Smaghi said. "[Spain] is already in a recession, business investment is flat, consumption is flat, they need to revitalize the economy and the only way to do that is to request a program yesterday."

He added: "As long as interest rates remain so high it's very difficult for the business sector, for households to repay their debts."