THE economy is slowing down. The country’s gross domestic product has dipped. Unemployment is on the rise and so is inflation. But prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, faced with the national election on March 9, can at least claim he predicted it.
And now the Bank of Spain has confirmed it in its latest estimates.
The bank said the Spanish economy grew by 3.8 per cent last year, slightly down on the 3.9 per cent growth the year before. Similarly, the bank said, gross domestic product grew by 3.5 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year, down on the third quarter’s 3.8 per cent annual rate.
The central bank’s forecasts are roughly in line with those of the government and, if only for that, will hardly dent the confidence of Zapatero and his socialist MPs ahead of next month’s general election.
The national statistics institute will publish preliminary gross domestic product figures on February 14 and final figures on February 20.
But a number of indicators are pointing to a major economic downturn this year with the construction-led boom at an end and ever-tightening credit conditions.
A good indicator as to the health of the economy is unemployment, which rose to 8.6 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year, the first increase since 2015, while inflation rose to 4.3 per cent, the highest figure in more than 10 years.