About a decade ago, Spain set off to "grow" its economy by launching an unprecedented homebuilding campaign. Several years later the campaign backfired, when the global housing bubble popped, and hundreds of thousands of houses ended up underwater, vacant or simply incomplete while millions of people lost their jobs, resulting in possibly the worst depression in Spanish history.
In Spain, entrepreneurship is largely a high-class hobby. Family money and connections have long been the best indicators of small business' success. A recent World Bank report ranked Spain lower than Bangladesh and Afghanistan on the ease of starting a business. Now Spain's ruling conservatives want to change that.
The turmoil in Europe appears to have died down, at least for now. Interest rates have fallen except for Spain. European Central Bank officials say they have contained the crisis — even if a recession occurs. But not everyone is so sure, and the recent rise in interest rates in Spain is making some investors nervous.
Financial markets are watching closely for word about the bank's next step, which is expected to include the purchase of long-term bonds from countries such as Italy and Spain. That would lower their borrowing costs and help shore up the euro.» E-Mail This » Add to Del.icio.us
There's a slow-motion bank run happening in Europe, as depositors move their money from financially troubled countries like Greece and Spain to stronger countries like Germany.» E-Mail This » Add to Del.icio.us
As Spain's borrowing costs continue to go through the roof, the European Commission proposes a "banking union" for the 17-country eurozone. The plan would include a fund to protect individual governments from being overwhelmed by the cost of bank rescues.» E-Mail This » Add to Del.icio.us
Moody's Investors Service is lowering the ratings because of the country's worsening financial picture. Moody's said it took the action because the banks face a rising tide of bad loans with Spain's economy in recession, its real estate market a shambles and its unemployment rate stubbornly high.» E-Mail This » Add to Del.icio.us
The Washington Post has me doing a live web chat at 2:00 on the now apparently inevitable health care reform. If you wan to ask me some questions, please head over there . . . you can actually submit questions now, but the answers won't go live until 2:00.