The Corner

Spain Under Strain

The Daily Telegraph’s Jeremy Warner provides a bleak round-up of where things now stand for Spain.

His conclusion:

A further €40bn package of austerity measures has been announced in a desperate bid to get ahead of what Brussels wants of Spain and, we must suppose, thereby obtain a somehow unconditional bail-out, allowing national pride to be salvaged. These measures are almost bound to be self-defeating, for they threaten further to shrink the economy, thereby making deficit reduction tougher still. Spain is chasing its tail into austerity-induced fiscal and economic meltdown. Mr Rajoy is a dead man walking.

Other than leaving monetary union and defaulting on its euro debts, which for the moment even the rebellious Catalans don’t seem to want, is there any way out for Spain? The answer looks ever more likely to be no.

Membership of monetary union is preventing the application of appropriate monetary policy to the periphery sovereigns. The single currency has also denied Europe the natural market mechanism of free floating exchange rates to correct deficiencies in competitiveness and reduce external indebtedness.

There is only one conclusion to be drawn from all this; though the short-term costs would be profound, Spain must leave the single currency.

Spain is damned if it leaves, but damned for eternity if it stays. Eurozone policy as it stands offers no plausible way back to prosperity.

Indeed it doesn’t. But the Northern euro (rather than a Spanish exit) remains the least-bad next step.