Spain is sliding into a full-blown economic depression with unemployment approaching levels not seen since the Second Republic of the 1930s and little chance of recovery until well into the next decade, according to a clutch of reports over recent days.
The Madrid research group RR de Acuña & Asociados said the collapse of Spain's building industry will cause the economy to contract for the next three years, with a peak to trough loss of over 11pc of GDP. The grim forecast is starkly at odds with claims by premier Jose Luis Zapatero, who still says Spain's recession will be milder than elsewhere in Europe.
RR de Acuña said the overhang of unsold properties on the market, or still being built, has reached 1,623,000 . This dwarfs annual demand of 218,000, and will take six or seven years to clear. The group said Spain's unemployment will peak at around 25pc, comparable to the worst chapter of the Great Depression.
Spanish workers typically receive 50pc to 60pc of their former pay for eighteen months after losing their job. Then the guillotine falls. Spain's parliament has rushed through a law guaranteeing €420 a month for long-term unemployed, but this will not prevent a social crisis if the slump drags on.
Separately, UBS said unemployment will reach 4.8m and may go as high as 5.4m if the job purge in the service sector gathers pace. There is the growing risk of a "Lost Decade" akin to Japan's malaise after the Nikkei bubble.
Roberto Ruiz, the bank's Spain strategist, said salaries must fall by 10pc in real terms to regain lost competitiveness, replicating the sort of wage squeeze seen in Germany after reunification.
There is no sign yet that either Spanish trade unions or the Zapatero government are ready for such draconian measures. Talks between the unions and Spain's industry federation (CEOE) broke down in acrimony in July.......For the time being, an odd calm prevails across the Iberian peninsular. There are no street riots, even though youth unemployment has reached 38pc. It is hard to imagine anything like the bloody uprising by Asturian miners in 1934, the last time so many people were without jobs. Local communities have started to issue scrip currency known as "moneda social", based on reflation experiments tried by Austrian cantons in 1932 and more recently by Argentina....MORE
Friday, September 25, 2009
Spain tips into DEPRESSION
People we don't want to emulate. From the Telegraph: