Anti-Austerity Protests Grow in Europe
By PATRICK DONAHUE | BLOOMBERG | APRIL 30, 2012
With Spain’s largest unions leading marches involving thousands of protesters in 55 cities yesterday, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government battled to prevent Spain from becoming the next country to seek a bailout. In France, where the presidential-election runoff is set for May 6, Socialist frontrunner Francois Hollande pushed back against German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s focus on deficit reduction.
“Watching Spain now is exactly like watching Ireland around October 2010 before Ireland was forced into its bailout,” Megan Greene, a senior economist at Roubini Global Economics LLC, told Bloomberg Television’s “Street Smart” on April 27. “The government can’t win no matter what it does.”
Spain’s economy shrank in the first quarter as the nation officially entered its second recession since 2009. Gross domestic product contracted 0.3 percent. Joblessness in the euro area probably to rose to 10.9 percent last month, the highest since 1997, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg.
As Spanish joblessness reached almost one in four of the working-age population, Hollande demanded that euro-area leaders move to promoting growth from cutting budgets, as agreed by 25 European governments in the so-called fiscal pact. Merkel drew the line at re-opening talks on the fiscal treaty, though she said growth could be boosted with labor-market reform and European Union funding.