Eurozone crisis: So who owes who what?

While Spain agonises over if and how to approach the EU for funds to prop up their banks while miraculously saving face at the same time, how much would our banks stand to lose if things went seriously wrong?

There is no doubt our banks are in much, much better shape than they would have been a few years ago. By and large compared to their colleagues on the continent they have taken the medicine. Yet the numbers are not insignificant.


Our banks are only owed about £3 billion by the Spanish government, but more than £8 billion by Spanish banks. That is dwarfed by lending to the rest of the private sector which is more than £40 billion.

The total exposure of the UK 's major banks to the Spanish economy is more than £50 billion.

A branch of Barclays in central London Credit: Press Association Images

Barclays have the biggest with more than £25 billion, RBS next with over £16 billion. Ironically, although Santander has a parent company in Spain, its actual exposure to the country in comparison is tiny with just £300 million.

It is hard to break down exactly what all of this debt is. But Barclays admits they have £14 billion in Spanish mortgages, many of which will be extremely secure, but perhaps not all. And out of RBS' exposure, a hefty chunk, probably about £10 billion worth is related to mortgages - either property loans themselves, or debt backed by mortgage securities.

Our exposure to Spain is dwarfed by the banks' overall exposure to the eurozone in total, some 600 billion pounds, very roughly the same amount as our entire public spending for the year.

The bigger risk for the UK is from what's known as secondary exposure to the eurozone, through countries like France. We have nearly £90 billion of exposure to France which in turn has more than £300 billion at stake in the Eurozone.

Forgive all the numbers but it is well worth taking a look to see what is what.

This chart which shows our direct exposure to the rest of the continent is courtesy of City UK with figures from BIS and the Bank of England.