Spain’s minister of economy is confident his country and the eurozone can reverse its misfortunes.
In Spain, things may finally be turning around, as the country’s economy shows sign of recovery.
Its exports grew at the impressive rate of five percent in the first quarter this year. And in March, Spain achieved a trade surplus with the rest of the world – the country exported more goods to the world than it brought in. This was a first for Spain, which has never had a trade surplus ever before.
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And the interest yield on government bonds are down, indicating that investors view the country’s debt less risky than before.
But while all this is happening there is still a dark cloud hanging over the country – a stubbornly high rate of unemployment. Today, more than half of all young people between the ages of 16 and 24, do not have a job.
So, how can a whole generation coming of age under these circumstances ever gain confidence in the future?
It seems to be a mixed picture for the Spaniards, but decidedly not all dark, at least according to Luis de Guindos, the country’s minister of economy and competitiveness.
And while many people speculate that there are cultural differences in the southern European countries that gave rise to a greater economic downturn than in the north of the continent, he believes otherwise.
“I don’t think that is a cultural difference with economic consequences between the north and the south,” explains Guindos, “I think the main reason for the divergency that we are now having is that in the northern European countries [they] applied policies that gave rise to much more competitiveness than in the case of the south … but now we have to correct that situation and the correction of these balances are painful from a social and political standpoint.”
Guindos has been in the office now for a year-and-a-half. His supporters argue that his government was elected with very strong support from the Spanish people, so they are willing to give him and his colleagues time to succeed.
On this episode of Talk to Al Jazeera, we speak to the man in charge of Spain’s economy, to find out how much time should he be given to turn around the economy and what does the future hold for the country.