Sunday, 20 June 2010

Spending Fiesta Is Over for Spain

THE SUNDAY TIMES: The country threatens Europe with a new debt crisis as its once vibrant economy falters, inflicting a painful human toll

Job losses has already provoked protests and is likely to worsen. Photo: The Sunday Times

Each day Joaquim Vizcaino, a 26-year-old Madrid University graduate, goes on the internet to look for a job. In the past six months he has had only one day’s work, as a driver, and he is getting desperate.

His girlfriend Letizia pays the £600-a-month rent on their two-room flat in the sprawling suburbs of Madrid and has supported him since he lost a job in marketing. Now she is beginning to lose patience.

“She keeps on telling me to go out and get a job,” he said with a grin as he drove her car to a doctor’s surgery on Friday for blood tests to find out why he has been losing weight. It might be stress: “I can’t even get a job as a waiter.”

Spain’s 20% unemployment — it is double that among the 16 to 25-year-olds — is surpassed in Europe only by Lithuania’s and is inflicting a painful human toll on what was once called the “Iberian tiger”, one of the most vibrant and dynamic countries of the European Union.

“For many years we lived extremely well,” said Ramon Tamames, a distinguished professor of economics at Madrid University, referring to a decade of extraordinary growth fuelled by low-cost loans from Europe.

“They were some of the best years in Spain’s history,” he added. “Now the party is over.” Read on and comment >>> Matthew Campbell | Sunday, June 20, 2010

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