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Debt spiral could push Portugal into new bail-out, admits EU-IMF
Portugal could face a second bail-out as the country, mired in recession and deeply divided over eurozone austerity measures, is caught in a debt spiral of soaring costs and borrowing to pay back EU-IMF loans.

Portugal, which is struggling to implement eurozone austerity measures, will owe the EU and IMF €78 billion in bail-out loans when it has to return to the financial markets for financing in July next year.

Leaked EU-IMF troika documents admit that this will be nigh on impossible because Portugal will need to borrow €14.1 billion in 2014, up 30pc more annually than before the bail-out, at higher interest costs than those that caused its initial crisis in 2011.

"Portugal has the challenge of needing to finance more than pre-crisis albeit with a sub-investment grade rating," the document leaked to the Financial Times admitted.

"There is substantial funding risk for Portugal given that it is still subject to substantial vulnerabilities at the end of the programme."

The leaked troika documents, to be discussed by Europe's finance ministers this weekend, set out options to help Portugal and Ireland by extending the repayment plan for loans.

Eurozone ministers are expected to agree to give both countries an extra seven years but a confidential analysis of Portugal predicts that even with extra time for repayments the country could need a second bail-out.

Next year's financing trap will close even tighter in 2015 when Portugal will need to borrow €15 billion at high interest rates, compared to the €10bn-€12bn the country borrowed with lower costs before the bail-out.

"The task of issuing medium and long-term debt above what is already held by market participants might be very demanding without an improvement in Portugal's sub-investment grade rating and the build-up of a stable investor base," the report said.

Even with a seven year repayment extension, the EU-IMF analysis predicts that Portugal's financing burden will rise between 2014 and 2017 at a time when financial markets are wary of the southern European country's ability to pay back borrowing, concerns that will drive up interest rates.

"At this stage Portugal's market access can only be considered as limited and opportunistic," the report said.

Portugal was plunged into a new round of political crisis last weekend after its constitutional court blocked austerity measures contained the country’s 2013 budget, measures that are the condition of continued EU-IMF funding.
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