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Tuesday, February 28, 2012 5:35 PM


Sharpen the Mower: Spain Needs Triple the Budget Cuts and Tax Hikes to Meet EMU Imposed Budget Targets


Conditions in Spain have deteriorated at a rapid pace. As little as a few months ago the Spanish economy was foolishly projected to grow at .7%. Now it expected to contract 1%.

Likewise, Spain's budget deficit was supposed to shrink to 6% in 2011 and 4.4% in 2012. Instead it rose to 8.51 percent in 2011, up from a revised estimate of 8.2% which was up from a revised estimate of 6.5%.

I think you can see a clear pattern here and as a result, the EU Commission Pressures Spain for Explanations.

Spain must explain soon to the European Commission why its 2011 budget deficit was substantially higher than expected and deliver clear future budget plans, the Commission said on Tuesday.

Spain's 2011 budget deficit came to 8.51 percent of GDP, the finance minister said on Monday, up from early estimates of 8.2 percent and far above forecasts from the Commission for something nearer 6.5 percent.

"We need to understand the causes of this significant slippage," Commission spokesman Olivier Bailly told a regular briefing in Brussels.

Spain will have to come up with more than 40 billion euros in savings to meet that target, implying spending cuts that most economists see as impossible given that the economy is already slipping into recession and the jobless rate is the highest in the European Union at 23 percent.

Bailly said Spain also needed to deliver its 2012 budget estimates in the coming weeks, not at the end of March, saying the task in hand was so great it could not be delayed.
Sharpen the Mower

My friend Bran notes that Spain now needs to come up with another 30 billion Euros in budget cuts on top of the 15 billion promised. Moreover, those cuts need to be spread out over 9 months, not 12.

This set of facts prompted the Spanish Gurus Blog to write Sharpen the mower. Spain's deficit exceeds 90 billion euros.
Specifically, Spain's budget deficit is 91.3 billion euros, 8.51% of GDP. So it should not take a wizard to realize the simple mathematical fact that team Rajoy has not yet begun with budget cuts and tax increases, if by 2012 Spain is to meet the 4.4% of GDP deficit target set by creditors.

The measures announced in December were only an appetizer. Instead of sharpening the blades, I think a good lawn mower would be more practical.

The announced cuts and tax increases of last December (income tax, capital gains), are expected to generate about 14,900 million.

To meet the objective of a 4.4% deficit, in 2012 the government deficit should not exceed 46,500 million euros.

To do so requires a nearly 30 billion euros hole to be filled, with the aggravating circumstance that it's now March and those 30 billion euros need to come in the next 9 months.

This figure is double the cuts and tax increases approved last December. So Rajoy has quite imagination if he expects this to happen.
I modified that translation substantially, but I am pretty sure I have it accurate. Spain's unemployment is already 22.9%. What pray tell would another 30 billion in cuts or tax hikes do to that number?

By the way, to go from 15 to 45 is tripling (not doubling) the tax hikes and cuts.

Many structural reforms pertaining to jobs and work rules are quite necessary. The accompanying tax hikes are not and the Spanish economy is poised to implode as a result.

Not to worry, EU commissioner Jean-Claude Juncker promises to "examine the situation with calm and serenity".

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com
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