Does Spain Need a Bailout?

Europe’s bail-out fund is not big enough to handle the country next in line: Spain, the euro’s fourth-biggest economy, with a GDP bigger than Greece, Ireland and Portugal combined.

On the face of it, the Spanish fears look exaggerated. Although it shares something of Ireland’s banking woes and of Greece’s wretched competitiveness, it is in less trouble than either. Its public debt, at around 60% of GDP, is below both Germany’s and the EU average. Its big banks are strong. Its multinationals are increasing their exports. In May, when investors ditched Spanish assets during the Greek panic, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Spain’s prime minister, abandoned the notion of spending his way out of recession. Instead he ordered spending cuts and then tax rises to trim the budget deficit from 11% of GDP in 2009 to 6% next year.

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