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Treasurer fails to add up

Spain's national treasurer, Gloria Hernández García, was caught in a rather embarrassing fix at a conference last month.

Speaking to an audience of journalists, bankers and other officials in Barcelona, Hernández described the impressive moves Spain has made to improve its sovereign issuance. Reforms such as setting up dealer groups and using electronic platforms for distribution have helped to improve liquidity, on top of successful macroeconomic measures to control inflation and improve the public-debt-to-GDP ratio.

And this hard work by the eurozone's fourth-largest sovereign borrower has been rewarded, as Moody's upgraded the country's debt to Aaa back in December. This quickly tightened spreads on state bonds by about 10 basis points, helping Spain to save significant costs on the e64 billion in issuance scheduled for 2002.

So how much exactly will you save, asked one member of the audience? Hernández shifted in her seat. "Well, I don't have a calculator, and I can't do maths in my head. But I know the formula," she revealed.

Luckily, one of the speakers from an investment bank later solved the mystery. "For those of you who haven't worked it out yet, it's e64 million," he said.

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