Saturday, May 22, 2010

Spain's economic crisis turns nasty

If you thought 2010 was going to be back to normal with the economy and the year of recovery, looks like you are out of luck. A dreadful week for the Spanish economy ended yesterday with the administrators moving into CajaSur a major savings bank in the south of the country. Depositors should be reassured that there is deposit protection insurance of €100.000 per person so that a joint account would have up to €2000.000 of their deposits safe.

Another Caja, CAM, is in merger talks with other banks after it too has got into difficulties.

All this comes after the government announced a series of austerity measures. These come on top of the VAT and investment tax rises that were announced in January. The new measures include a cut in public sector pay (5% on average), ending the 2.500€ gift to new mothers (nicknamed the baby cheque) and a freeze in most state pensions.
The government has also promised to bring in some increased taxes for "the rich" but won't say what they are or who they consider rich. The press is speculating that the wealth tax may be brought back for people with assets over €1m.

This comes just as the economy was reportedly growing again albeit by a miserly 0.1%. You wonder how long such a weak recovery can last in the face of such bad news. The austerity measures are designed to cut the deficit by around 8% of GDP so that's a massive chunk of demand to come out of the economy. The banks' woes will make mortgages even harder to come by we can safely assume which does not augur well for the housing market. On top of this the unions are threatening a General Strike (article) in protest against both the austerity measures and proposed labour market reforms.

The Advoco website has a full guide in English to the economic crisis charting its development and underlying causes from the beginning up to the present day: Spain's economic crisis.

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