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Miércoles, 15 de febrero de 2006
Financial Times advierte: España pierde competitividad
Financial Times publica un artículo grave y sintomático sobre
la economía española: el crecimiento inexorable de los déficits
y la inflación “son el síntoma de la pérdida
de competitividad de la economía española”, declara
Luís de Guindos, consultante de Lehman Bros.
Esta es la crónica de FT:
Spain’s current account deficit rose by almost 60 per cent between
January and November 2005. The deficit reached €60.7bn ($72bn) in the
first 11 months of the year, according to the Bank of Spain.
As a percentage of gross domestic product, the current account deficit is the highest in the developed world, puncturing some of the exuberance about the sustainability one of Europe’s most buoyant economies. The deficit is about 7.3 per cent of GDP, against 5.8 per cent in the US, 5.9 per cent in Australia and 3.4 per cent in the UK.
“The current account deficit, and rising inflation, are symptoms of Spain’s loss of competitiveness,” said Luis de Guindos, a former deputy finance minister who is now an adviser to Lehman Bros in Europe. “Economic growth is being driven by the construction industry and private consumption, and this is not sustainable in the long run.”
Spain’s current account imbalance is mainly due to the soaring cost of its energy import bill, which has risen 40 per cent since 2004.
Officials said capital goods imports were also growing strongly – by almost 14 per cent in the first 11 months of the year – and that this would eventually expand Spain’s productive capacity.
The trade deficit reached a record €63bn in the first 11 months of 2005, with exports up 4.4 per cent and imports up 11.4 per cent.
The surplus on tourism revenues, a mainstay of the Spanish economy, fell to €24bn from €25bn a year earlier, while net transfers – mainly from immigrants sending money abroad – rose sixfold to €1.3bn
Membership of the euro means that Spain cannot devalue its currency to correct the deficit. At the same time, the fact that Spain belongs to a large and stable monetary union has raised the threshold of the external deficit its partners are willing to finance.
Economists believe Spain’s external borrowing costs will rise if the deficit is not brought under control. The import bill could rise less dramatically this year if Spaniards, who are now deeply in debt, begin to moderate consumption.
The finance ministry estimates Spain’s trade deficit will widen to 8.7 per cent of GDP in 2006, while its external borrowing needs are put at 7.7 per cent of GDP. Economic growth is forecast at 3.3 per cent in 2006, compared with an annualised 3.5 per cent in the third quarter of 2005.
Spanish inflation reached an annualised rate of 3.7 per cent in December, compared with 2.2 per cent in the eurozone. The Socialist government acknowledges that the persistent inflation differential with the rest of Europe – which accounts for two-thirds of Spain’s external trade – is also eroding competitiveness.
But neither José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, the prime minister, nor Pedro Solbes, finance minister, have shown any willingness to tackle the indexation of wages and Spain’s rigid collective bargaining laws, which keep inflation high. So while the economy continues to grow and to create jobs, there are doubts as to how long the momentum can be maintained.
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