- ‘Pocket drones’: U.S. Army developing tiny surveillance tools for the next big war
- Belgian cafe posts sign: Dogs allowed, but Jews stay out
- Gen. Dempsey: Pentagon studying Russian readiness plans not viewed ‘for 20 years’
- John McCain: Botched, two-hour execution of murderer is ‘torture’
- House GOP ready to move border bill
- Bomb squad called after live WWII artillery washes on Cape Cod beach
- HAYDEN: Intelligence, evidence and the case against Russia
- Ohio university quiz implies atheists are naturally smarter than Christians
- Rep. Henry Cuellar on border crisis: ‘Playing defense on the one-yard line’
- Activists vow to occupy fast-food restaurants to get higher pay
Spain revises up deficit and raises taxes
Question of the Day
MADRID — Spain‘s new government warned Friday that the country’s budget deficit will be much higher than anticipated this year, as it unveiled a first batch of austerity measures that include surprise income and property tax hikes.
Following the new conservative government’s second Cabinet meeting, the budget deficit for this year was revised up to 8 percent of national income from the previous government’s forecast of 6 percent.
Alongside the upward revision, which comes amid predictions that the Spanish economy will soon be back in recession, the government headed by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced further measures to get a handle on its debts, including €8.9 billion ($11.5 billion) in spending cuts.
“This is the beginning of the beginning,” government spokeswoman Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said.
She said more reforms and austerity will come in 2012.
The conservative Popular Party took power only last week after a landslide election win on Nov. 20 and its main priority is to make sure that Spain doesn’t get dragged into the debt crisis mire that has already forced Greece, Ireland and Portugal into seeking financial bailouts and is now threatening much-bigger Italy.
Though Spain‘s budget deficit is higher than the 3 percent threshold that was supposedly part of the euro’s economic framework, it has so far avoided the same sort of bond market pressure that’s currently afflicting Italy, partly because its overall central government debt burden is relatively low at around 66 percent — Italy’s is around 120 percent.
The yield on Spain‘s benchmark ten-year bonds is closing out 2011 at just over 5 percent, lower than Italy’s 7 percent, a rate that is widely-considered to be unsustainable in the long-run.
Nevertheless, Spain has to keep a lid on its borrowings especially with unemployment so high and its regions and the private sector is so indebted too following the collapse of a property and construction bubble that had fueled robust growth for nearly a decade. Spain crawled out of nearly two years of recession in 2010, but the economy slowed this summer and growth was outright flat in the third quarter of this year.
An increase in the deficit forecast was not a total surprise, but the scale of the increase was.
Many economists had predicted an increase because the economy stagnated in the third quarter and is now officially forecast to drop back into recession in the first quarter of 2012. Spain‘s jobless rate is 21.5 percent, the highest in the euro zone.
Alongside the spending cuts, the new government maintained a freeze on civil servants’ salaries and on practically all government hiring. Pensions though were increased by 1 percent, the only area of spending to go up — Rajoy had pledged to increase pensions in a speech to Parliament last week prior to his swearing in.
Taxes on income will also be raised but only for two years.
Treasury Minister Cristobal Montoro said the increases will be progressive, with the wealthiest paying more and that the impact on lower-income earners will be minimal. The government is projecting that this will bring in €6.2 billion.
TWT Video Picks
Second- and third-stringers eye 2016 if front-runner stumbles
- 'We're coming for you, Barack Obama': Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL terrorists
- Russia shipping sophisticated weapons systems to Ukraine separatists
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
- 'Pocket drones': U.S. Army developing tiny spies for the next big war
- Michelle Obama says money in politics is bad, asks donors for 'big, fat check'
- EDITORIAL: Detroit's water 'spigot bigots'
- John McCain: Botched, two-hour execution of murderer is 'torture'
- Brian Kelly, Notre Dame ready for different route to title
- White House readies for House GOP impeachment push: 'Foolish' to ignore
- Presidents of Honduras, Guatemala blame U.S. for border children crisis
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq