MADRID – It’s been more than a rocky few years for Spain. It’s been a rocky half-century.
Run by a military dictator until the 1970s, Spain emerged in the early 2000s as a model of social democracy and the poster child for the European Union. Then the global economy collapsed in 2008, and suddenly Spain was suffering from Depression-era levels of unemployment and an economy melting down like Dali horrorscape. In a few years it had gone from budget surpluses, a growing middle class, and generous social supports to wrenching austerity policies and collapsing wages, triggered by the massive failure of Spanish banks.
Unlike Greece, the Spanish government was not a chronic over-spender. Its debt was merely 36% of its GDP in 2007, about half the debt burden of the U.S. and Germany at the time. The Socialist Party wasn’t stocked with bank industry shills, or slavish admirers of greedy capitalism, but their reaction to the crisis devastated their own constituents just as Spain’s decades-long economic model was coming undone. There are lessons for Americans in understanding what happened to Spain.
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To the north, historic development in a Spanish region. To the south, urban design fuelled by Spain’s real estate boom.
Urban growth in Spain is seriously disjointed. We take a look in more detail in our latest post.
[Images: AP, Reuters]
The big loser is Turkey.
Despite the horror stories you may have heard about over half of Greek and Spanish youths being out of work, the reality is a bit more complicated. The above chart courtesy of the OECD (via Alan Beattie of the Financial Times) gives us a more accurate picture of youth joblessness. Instead of counting everyone under 25 who isn’t working as unemployed, it only counts everyone under 25 who isn’t working and isn’t in schol or a training program as unemployed. Things are still bad, but not nearly as bad as the headlines suggest.
Every year, the Festival of San Fermin attracts thousands of visitors to Pamplona, Spain. Over the course of nine days, the festival hosts many bullfights, a carnival, fireworks, and of course, the encierro, or “running of the bulls.” Held since 1591, San Fermin remains a popular, if also dangerous and controversial event: Several people have been gored already this year, and the festival continues until July 14th. Collected below are some scenes from the first few days of this 2011’s Festival of San Fermin.
Above: A man tries to avoid a steer that broke away from the pack of fighting bulls during the second day of the San Fermin running-of-the-bulls on July 7, 2011. (Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
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Ever since Sunday, May 15th, residents from many cities around Spain have been demonstrating against the country’s ongoing financial crisis, its politicians, and its bankers. The spontaneous protests are the largest since the country plunged into recession in 2008, and they’re made up mainly of young people who have set up camps in main squares across the country. Called “los indignados” (the indignant), the May 15 Movement, or simply 15-M, they are fueled by frustration with austerity measures, apparent indifference from politicians, and serious joblessness. Spain’s unemployment rate for those under 25 stood at 43.5 percent as of February — the highest youth unemployment rate in the 27-nation European Union.
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[Pedro Armestre/AFP/Getty Images]