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UK newspaper's 'Spain is bust' claim provokes fury

Alex Dunham · 13 May 2013, 15:26

Published: 13 May 2013 15:26 GMT+02:00

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“The latest IMF Fiscal Monitor, published last month, comes about as close to declaring Spain insolvent as you are ever likely to see in official analysis of this sort.”

Jeremy Warner, one the UK’s leading economic commentators, kick-started his article on Spain’s alleged insolvency with these inflammatory words.

He went on to say, “If the Cypriot precedent is anything to go by, a heavy price will be demanded by way of recompense. Confiscation of deposits looks all too possible.”

Warner's opinion piece, which he based on a report by the IMF’s Fiscal Monitor, has been echoed in countless Spanish media since it was published last Friday.

It was soon met by an onslaught of comments by the Spanish general public, who acknowledged Spain’s financial problems but rejected his claims as a self-important outsider.

Spanish daily ABC ran the story on Sunday with the headline "Brutal attack on Spain by The Telegraph", followed by  the line "The British press takes it out on Spain yet again, employing their usual double standards and turning a blind eye to their own financial shortcomings".

Meanwhile, economic commentator for El Mundo Casimiro García-Abadillo titled his opinion piece on the matter "The Telegraph's hispanophobia". The Spanish journalist and blogger described Warner's article as part of an "anti-European campaign" in which "he hopes to make the euro fail by attacking Spain."

Spain’s Embassy in London also voiced their disapproval by sending out an official complaint to the British broadsheet about the “irresponsible, unfounded and self-interested comments” made by the economic commentator.

The International Monetary Fund said that it was “incorrect” to speak about Spain’s “insolvency” on the basis of the projections contained in a recent report by the multilateral institution.

Faced with a barrage of criticism, Warner wrote a follow-up piece on Saturday in which he attempted to justify his calamitous predictions.

But rather than calming tempers, his comments seem to have poured more oil on the fire.

Story continues below…

“I've merely taken some quite alarming IMF forecasts and drawn some obvious conclusions from them," he wrote in his blog.

"Perhaps I'm wrong – that there is no solvency problem in Spain.

If so, my words will carry no weight. That's the thing about bank runs. They tend not to happen unless there is genuine reason for concern. So let's get the information out there and let people make up their own minds.”

Alex Dunham (alex.dunham@thelocal.com)

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