(MoneyWatch) Germany's slowing economy is driving the country's leaders to raise the heat on Spain to ask for a bailout.
German officials are expressing frustration over Spanish Prime Minister Mario Rajoy's indecision about whether to ask the European Union for a rescue. Rajoy "must spell out what the situation is," Michael Meister, finance spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union, said Monday. That he is not doing so shows that the Spanish leader "evidently has a communications problem. If he needs help he must say so."
Meister's comments came after Spanish finance minister Luis de Guindos this weekend repeated Madrid's assertion that it is in no hurry to seek assistance.The German government is eager for Spain to accept the bailout in order to stem the eurozone financial crisis, which has dragged five of the 17 countries using the currency into recession. In the last week, several reports have pointed to a slowdown in Germany's economy, long the powerhouse of the EU.
German business confidence is at its lowest level in more than two and a half years. The Ifo Institute, an economic research firm, said Monday that its widely followed German business climate index dropped in September for a fifth straight month, to 101.4, from 102.3 in August. That's the lowest reading since February 2010. The index, based on a survey of 7,000 executives, looks at companies' assessments of their current business and their outlook for the next six months.
The Bundesbank, Germany's central bank, also said while it expects the economy to continue on its upward trend after a solid start to the third quarter, signs of a slowdown were emerging.
"Perspectives for the further economic development are still formed by great uncertainty," the Bundesbank said in a report Monday. "The domestic economic situation is so far robust, but signs of weaker dynamics are noticeable."