Spain is Beyond Repair, So is the United States
By: Fred Sheehan
Oct 06, 2012
Spain is beyond repair. This is also true of the United States. Following is a bottom-up view of the insatiable parasites clinging to the rump of the Spanish economy and how such gruesome imagery applies elsewhere.
A Bloomberg story on September 27, 2012, resembled many others since the mid-‘oughts: “Spain’s Boom-Era Building Gear Sold as Developers Cut Off.” This does not need much explanation but a connection is offered: though QE3 is designed, and will (in cases) lift asset prices, gravity rather than levitation is the natural direction of assets.
Construction equipment manufactured during the Spanish housing boom now lounges and pouts, or jets to countries where housing bubbles still offer a thrill. For the connoisseur of booms-and-busts, Berlin, Oslo, and Hong Kong may be peaking. None are likely to match the sheer weight the defunct construction industry loads on the Spanish economy. Bloomberg described its proportions: “The property bonanza that ended in 2008 has left around 2 million unsold homes in Spain, representing supply that will take a decade to absorb…. Spain’s construction and real estate industry, which represented 18 percent of gross domestic product before the financial crisis, now accounts for 11 percent and building permits plummeted 87 percent last year from the 2004 peak.” [That it has only shrunk from 18% to 11% means the state is spending madly to keep it, and the banks, operating. – FJS] “Work started on fewer than 4,500 houses in February this year, a 94 percent decline from the October 2006 peak.”