As the EU’s largest economy recovers from the coronavirus crisis, a country that is far behind: Spain.
nation, Hardest hit Due to the economic impact of last year’s crisis, Europe has made far less progress in restoring pre-pandemic output levels than other Eurozone member states.
Alicia Coronil, chief economist of Singular Bank, a private bank in Madrid, said: “It is worrying now.” [at a three decade peak of 5.5 per cent] And the growth is slower. “
As of the end of the third quarter, Italy’s GDP was 1.4% lower than the level at the end of 2019. Germany narrowed the gap to 1.1%, and France narrowed it to only 0.1%. But in Spain, the gap is even greater. Its gross domestic product is still 6.6% lower than its pre-pandemic level. The economy has just returned to its 2016 scale.
Pablo Casado, the leader of the country’s center-right People’s Party, accused the left-wing government of overseeing “the worst recovery in developed countries”.
After 18 months, the economic performance of countries closely tracked their fight against the pandemic, and Spain’s experience represented a kind of decoupling. Spain has one of the lowest infection rates in Europe, but relative to its neighbors, this does not seem to boost the economy.
Raymond Torres, chief economist of the Spanish Savings Bank Foundation, said: “Compared with other countries and expectations, the recovery has been delayed.”
He cited three factors-weak household consumption; rising energy prices have had a serious impact on inflation; and the delay in using the EU’s 800 billion euro recovery fund. Spain is one of the main beneficiaries of the fund and will receive 140 billion euros in grants and loans in the next six years.
The bigger question is how these delays hurt the country’s long-term prospects.
Torres said that it turns out that Spanish families are unwilling to spend the 55 billion euros in savings he estimated they had accumulated during the pandemic. He associates this tension with the instability of the labor force (approximately a quarter of the jobs are temporary) and the impact of energy prices. Even before the recent record high, the percentage of Spaniards spending on electricity was much higher than elsewhere in Europe-on average more than 8% of net disposable income in 2019.
Antoni Cañete, head of Pimec, the Catalan Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, also emphasized the impact of the supply chain crisis on the growth of Spain’s key automobile industries and other industries, as well as the problem of the peak tourist season, even though the peak tourist season is in late summer.
Torres added that the delay in EU funding may not only hinder the government, but also hinder private sector investment, which, like domestic consumption, declined slightly in the third quarter.
Many business leaders hope to advance demonstration projects, but privately complain about the slow release of funds-partly because of the state aid negotiations between Madrid and Brussels and partly because of the complexity of bidding for many projects.
According to a recent report by the Spanish financial regulator AIReF, as of the end of August, the government had access to nearly 5 billion euros in recovery funds-including the latest data-but only 104 million euros were spent. Although economists agree that the funds are spent faster than they are spent, regulators say that the delay will slow their impact on growth.
These factors dampened expectations of recovery.Just over a year ago, the government forecast The economy will grow by 9.8% in 2021-including 2.6% growth from the Recovery Fund.
But Madrid’s forecast for 2021 has dropped to 6.5%-the consensus today is that growth will be lower.Growth in the third quarter was lower than expected, and data in the second quarter was lower than expected Downward correction From an estimated 2.8% to 1.1%. AIReF is now expected Grow This year it is 5.5%-less than half of the loss in 2020.
The government insists that the recovery is strong and may not necessarily be reflected in the GDP data that has not yet been finalized. Last month, the number of people paying for social security — the most commonly used measure in the labor market — reached an all-time high of nearly 20 million. The unemployment rate in October did not increase for the first time in 46 years, which has traditionally been a difficult month for the country’s highly seasonal economy.
“These numbers are very encouraging,” government spokesman Isabel Rodriguez said this month. “All indicators show that the economy is growing.”
Some observers said that for decades, the Spanish economy has been lagging behind other European countries in the economic cycle, and its volatility has been more intense, with greater increases and even greater declines.
In fact, this is partly the worry of economists such as Colonel and Torres. The main drivers of the economy next year—private consumption, investment, EU funds, and tourism—are likely to accelerate. Since energy costs are unlikely to fall, and inflation is already high, this may increase price pressure.
This is a common concern of enterprises. “There are many small things that hinder growth,” said Canet of the Catalan Association of Small Businesses. “But what’s worse is that inflation is getting higher and higher, and we may lose competitiveness… This is our biggest worry.”