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AEB: Alejandra Kindelán’s first big test | Business

On Tuesday morning, the new president of the Spanish Banking Association (AEB), Alejandra Kindelán, remained relaxed in her offices. The televisions were connected to the debate on the State of the Nation with Pedro Sánchez about to announce the anti-inflationary measures. Suddenly, he dropped the bomb, a special and temporary tax on banks that, together with the already advanced one that will be required from electricity companies for the benefits that fell from the sky, will report a collection of 7,000 million euros in two years.

Thus, suddenly also, the idyll, if ever there was one, between the companies and the banks with the Government suffered a coup de grâce that we will see how far it goes. Some sources even speak of going to court. Everything will be a matter of analysis. But, for now, the president surprised locals (some, few, not so much) and strangers when he announced the aforementioned tax that, if the accounts are not wrong, will mean 1,500 million each year in 2023 and 2024. The expository argument is that The banking sector is going to obtain extraordinary profits due to the rise in interest rates as a result of the inflationary crisis and which, when transferred to loans, will increase income and margins.

The electric companies, the other pagans, have known this for a long time and have not been surprised; but the banks recognize that the measure has altered them. Surely, they would have wanted a previous official call, due to the good relationship they have maintained during the pandemic (remember the ICO credits and the management of European funds) and because at the moment the banking employers and the Government maintain a direct thread almost daily to elaborate the plan on the coverage of access to banking services in the emptied Spain. But that call did not take place, neither by Sánchez nor by the First Vice President and Minister of Economy, Nadia Calviño, as the employer president has actively and passively underlined, who did not take long to receive the unconditional support of the president of the CEOE , Antonio Garamendi, who spoke out very harshly against the Executive.

A period of uncertainty is now opening, surely of negotiations, in which the AEB will have to give its chest. Calviño has assured that he will convene the employer’s association in the coming days. It will be the first high-caliber test faced by Alejandra Kindelán, who assumed the presidency last April and who had recently cleared the way with the unions to review the sectoral agreement in September that ends in 2023 due to the impact of inflation. The consequences of the measure announced by Sánchez can be decisive when that time comes.

Although it is true that they have been ignored, which is already serious, for many financial institutions the surprise is relative to a certain extent. In their environment they recognize that they feared something similar since the increase in rates was announced; but they add, as Kindelán herself underlined on RTVE’s 24-hour channel, that the fact of raising rates does not mean that it will lead to an exponential increase in the income statement for the simple reason that the economy is suffering greater deterioration and the risk of non-performing loans and defaults is higher. In the same vein, they ironically wonder if it was an attempt to offset the “extraordinary” losses during the long period of low rates. “The extraordinary thing is the six years of negative rates,” said Kindelán, for whom “measures like these can hardly combat inflation.”

Sector experts point out that the margins will grow, but that, in the same way, the financial costs will be higher and that the higher cost of credit will imply a lower demand, in addition to an increase in non-performing loans. This, and it is well known in the sector, implies an increase in provisions and lower profits, not to mention the impact of inflation, which affects general costs.

The measures, branded as populist by the banks, affect the protection of the economy of families and SMEs from the impact of inflation. But, according to the bank, the measure hinders the ability of banks to finance families and companies. The message, from the left, is that “the suffering of the many is the benefit of the few.” And, while the stock markets were boiling (the stock market lost 5,000 million dragged by banks and electricity), the right could not find a better way out than to attack with… ETA. Of the measures, no word. Political stuff.

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