Thursday, May 20, 2010

Spain's new age of austerity

The Spanish government has approved a 15bn-euro ($19bn; £13bn) austerity plan to rein in the public deficit and ease fears of a Greek-style debt crisis. Many Spanish jobs enjoy 13 monthly salaries, as many Greek civil servants had a 13th and 14th monthly payment.
The programme is intended to reduce a deficit of 11% of GDP to 6% by 2011.
The plan, unveiled last week by PM Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, will involve a 5% cut to public sector salaries.
Many Spaniards fear the effect the cuts will have on the economy, where the unemployment rate exceeds 20% - twice the eurozone average. There must be so many families struggling to pay mortgages and spend in the economy.
There was some economic cheer last week, when statistics showed Spain had moved out of recession in the first quarter of this year, with growth of 0.1%. In Spain over the weekend someone remarked to me that the Spanish have now spent most of their "mattress money" that they had following entry into the euro, and that many had acquired selling land or doing "black" real estate deals.
The European Union has been anxious to see more fragile European economies including Spain, Portugal and Greece impose tougher austerity measures.
This month, the EU approved a 750bn-euro rescue package to prop up European economies struggling with large debts.

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