Economy grew 0.3 percent in fourth quarter, De Guindos says

Minister presents advance figures to bolster government claims that recovery is gaining pace

Economy Minister Luis de Guindos.
Economy Minister Luis de Guindos.EFE

Economy Minister Luis de Guindos announced on Monday in Congress that the fledgling recovery of the Spanish economy gained more strength in the fourth quarter of 2013. According to advance figures from the government, GDP grew 0.3 percent between October and December compared with the previous quarter. That is two points higher than the figure for the third quarter, when Spain finally managed to leave behind the longest recession of the democratic era.

During his appearance in Congress, De Guindos summed up the positive signs now appearing in the Spanish economy, with the aim of bolstering the government’s argument that the recovery is gaining pace. The country is now “faced with a recovery, albeit fragile, but one that is, after all, a recovery,” he said.

Among the positive factors he mentioned, De Guindos focused in particular on the fall in borrowing costs for the Spanish state and the accompanying drop in the risk premium, which all point to the recovery in confidence among foreign investors with regard to Spain. He also pointed to the progress made in terms of exports, as well as the fact that the restructuring of Spain’s banking sector was in its final stages.

The minister added that the housing market was beginning to touch bottom, and that in terms of unemployment, which fell in 2013, jobs will be created this year. De Guindos forecast that the unemployment rate will fall from 25.9 percent, its current level, to 25 percent by the end of 2014.

“For the first time since the crisis, we are looking at a different scenario,” said the economy minister, before admitting that the situation was far from satisfactory, despite the improvements. In terms of bringing down the deficit, De Guindos guaranteed that the 2013 target would be met, saying that “the worst of the necessary cuts are no doubt behind us now.”

CORRECTION: The first version of this article included an error by saying that the 0.3-percent rate of growth was two points higher than the figure for the second quarter, when it was in the third quarter of 2013 that the Spanish economy registered growth of 0.1 percent, thus exiting recession.

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