Search

 

Cablegate: Spain Economic Roundup, Dec. 7-24

VZCZCXRO5113
RR RUEHIK
DE RUEHMD #1214/01 3581158
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 241158Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY MADRID
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1601
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUEHLA/AMCONSUL BARCELONA 4282
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RHMCSUU/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MADRID 001214

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EUR/WE, EEB/IFD/OMA
STATE PASS USTR FOR D.WEINER AND J.GROVES
COMMERCE FOR 4212/DON CALVERT AND 6990/R.LAYTON
TREASURY FOR OAI/OEE R.JOHNSTON
ENERGY FOR PIA:K.BALLOU

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAIR ECON EFIN EINV ENRG SP
SUBJECT: SPAIN ECONOMIC ROUNDUP, DEC. 7-24

REF: MADRID 1162

MADRID 00001214 001.3 OF 002


Contents:

ECON/EFIN: Zapatero Defends Policies in Response to S&P
Warning
EAIR: Air Comet Collapse Complicates Business Leader's
Position
ENRG: Nuclear Reforms Approved
ECON: GOS 2010 Budget Approved As Expected
ENRG: Electricity Bills to Rise by 2%
EFIN/EINV: Savings Banks Agree to Merge
ECON: November Inflation 0.3%

Zapatero Defends Policies in Response to S&P Warning

1.(U) Standard & Poor's warning of a possible rating
downgrade for Spain,s public debt overshadowed President
Zapatero's December 10 presentation of his annual report on
the economy. While S&P did not change Spain's AA rating, it
lowered its outlook from stable to negative and warned of a
rating downgrade if the GOS fails to reduce significantly its
budget deficit. S&P's announcement could make it more
expensive for Spain to service its debt. Now at 66% of GDP,
Spain,s public debt is well below the EU average (84%), but
its deficit is currently at 11% of GDP, one of the highest in
the Eurozone. Zapatero emphasized that the other two main
rating agencies, Fitch and Moody's, have confirmed their
highest ratings for Spain. He defended his economic
policies, saying that government spending was needed to
confront the crisis and held that recovery and renewed job
growth were just around the corner. He also said the GOS was
on track to reduce its deficit to 3% of GDP by 2013, as
required by Brussels. (El Pais, 12/11)

Air Comet Collapse Complicates Business Leader's Position

2.(U) The December 22 bankruptcy of Air Comet airline left
some 7,000 holiday travelers stranded and 640 workers
unemployed. The GOS promised to fund replacement flights to
Buenos Aires, Lima, and Bogota for stranded passengers. The
bankruptcy, triggered by a British judge's December 18
embargo on the company's airplanes for nonpayment of a debt,
has generated widespread criticism of principal owner Gerardo
Diaz Ferran, a travel agency group owner who heads Spain,s
CEOE umbrella business chamber. Chamber members have
speculated that Diaz Ferran may not be able to devote
sufficient time to dealing with the bankruptcy and its impact
on his group's operations while at the same time heading the
CEOE when its wage negotiations with labor and the GOS are
expected to resume. Ironically, several employees of the
travel agency group were among those sharing the
585-million-euro top prize in Spain,s December 22 Christmas
lottery. (El Pais, 12/22; Expansion, 12/23; ABC, 12/23; 20
Minutos, 12/24)

Nuclear Reforms Approved

3.(U) The Council of Ministers approved on December 23
reforms affecting the nuclear power industry. One formalized
the possibility that a future Council of Ministers could
decide to extend the life of nuclear plants beyond the
customary 40-year limit. Another approved the construction
of a temporary storage site for nuclear residue; at present
each plant stores its own residue, but this is not a
long-term solution. In 2004, the Congress called for
construction of a single storage facility, but the project
had been paralyzed since 2006. (Europa Press, 12/23; El
Pais, 12/24)

GOS 2010 Budget Approved As Expected

4.(U) On December 21, the Congress approved the government's
2010 budget as expected. Despite the ruling PSOE's lack of a
legislative majority and the tension between the two leading
parties, the GOS was able to negotiate amendments
successfully with enough parties so that for the first time
in three years, the (less important) Senate did not vote down
the proposal. Among the over 200 changes to the GOS'
original proposal were modifications to the "Beckham law"
that reduced tax breaks for foreign football stars and other
highly paid foreigners as well as changes to maintain the
400-euro tax deduction for lower-income taxpayers. (Europa

MADRID 00001214 002.3 OF 002


Press, 12/22)

Electricity Bills to Rise by 2%

5.(U) The Council of Ministers agreed on December 23 that
electricity rates for most households and small businesses
would rise by 2.64% on January 1. Comment: By itself, this
increase will not do much to close the continuing gap between
what consumers pay and what the government owes the
electricity generating companies. However, the GOS has been
raising rates above the rate of inflation for the last few
years, and another increase is possible in July. (20
Minutos, 12/24; El Pais, 12/24)

Savings Banks Agree to Merge

6.(U) Four small savings banks ("cajas"), Caja de Burgos,
Caja Navarra, CajaCanarias, and Sa Nostra, announced that
they would merge. The new entity, to be named Banca Civica,
would be the sixth largest caja in terms of assets. Final
approvals by boards, shareholders and GOS authorities are
expected to be completed by the end of February. (Europa
Press, 12/18)

November Inflation 0.3%

7.(U) Twelve-month consumer price inflation in November was
0.3% after a month-on-month increase in November of 0.5%.
Both figures were 0.1% below the preliminary estimate
reported in reftel. (National Statistics Institute, 12/15)
CHACON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

ALRANZ: Denounces US Senate Confirmation Of Judge Barrett

ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa denounces the US Senate’s confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court seat formerly held by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. “This action demonstrates the rank hypocrisy of the once-respected upper chamber ... More>>

OECD: COVID-19 Crisis Puts Migration And Progress On Integration At Risk, Says

Watch the live webcast of the press conference Migration flows have increased over the past decade and some progress has been made to improve the integration of immigrants in the host countries. But some of these gains may be erased by the COVID-19 pandemic ... More>>

Reporters Without Borders: Julian Assange’s Extradition Hearing Marred By Barriers To Open Justice

After monitoring four weeks of evidence in the US extradition proceedings against Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reiterates concern regarding the targeting of Assange for his contributions to journalism, and calls ... More>>

OHCHR: Stranded Migrants Need Safe And Dignified Return – UN Migrant Workers Committee

The UN Committee on Migrant Workers has today called on governments to take immediate action to address the inhumane conditions of migrant workers who are stranded in detention camps and ensure they can have an orderly, safe and dignified return to ... More>>