Monday, October 17, 2011

Spain: an eventful history of economic crises

There is talk that Spain could get dragged into a financial crisis. While it is debatable whether this will happen or not, and whether it is inevitable, it is instructive to study Spain's economic history in this regard.

Concha Betrán, Pablo Martín-­‐Aceña and María Pons look at a century and a half of data and basically do in more details for Spain what Carmen Reinhardt and Kenneth Rogoff did for many countries in their best seller. And as the latter book, the picture is depressing. Crises of all sorts were a rather regular occurrence, we have been just blessed with rather few of them over the last half century. For example, in the second half of the 2oth century, Spain experiences half a dozen currency crises, a couple of banking crises, three periods with negative stock returns over several years, and the IMF had to intervene three times for a debt crisis. It takes from this that while crises are becoming less frequent, they still occur, and the current one was long overdue.

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