Friday, July 09, 2010

The Spanish government will approve Friday an overhaul of savings-bank regulations, opening the door to private ownership of the mutually owned savings banks or "cajas," Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero said Thursday.

"This is the most important reform ever of our banking system," Mr. Zapatero said at a meeting with journalists.

With close ties to local communities and often controlled by local governments, Spain's cajas have borne the brunt of the collapse of Spain's decade-long housing boom. Their fast-rising bad debt levels, combined with a lack of transparency, have stoked investor concerns and created severe financing difficulties for both the cajas and the country's listed banks.
A welcome step. Does this mean that the ticking time bomb is now ticking not so much, or is that it was so close to blowing up that even the reform-averse Zapatero realized it had to be done asap?