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Davos: Spain wins praise over reforms

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Davos: Spain wins praise over reforms
The Managing Director of the IMF speaks in Davos, Switzerland on Thursday. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
14:59 CET+01:00
The head of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde was one of several high-profile figures to laud Spain's economic recovery at a session at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Thursday.

"Spain has been able to recover confidence, with the group of measures it has adopted, said Lagarde during the early morning session.

While the IMF boss — currently being investigated for negligence during her time as France's finance minister — said Spain's politics of austerity has been "perhaps rather excessive at the beginning", she praised the country's structural reforms and the decision to clean the banks' balance sheets.

"Spain has made deep structural changes, which have allowed for the creation of 300,000 jobs in the last 12 months," said fellow session participant, the president of Santander Bank Ana Botín.

The manager of the hedge fund Bridgewater Associates, Ray Dalio, was similarly upbeat saying Spain, like Ireland, had done a "great job" when it came to reforms.

But Dalio sounded a note of warning about Spain's youth unemployment rate, still over 50 percent, and over the rise of the poll-topping left-wing group Podemos which he described as "an extremist party" which "could undermine productivity. 

The comments came on the same morning in which strong new jobs figures appeared to point towards a further consolidation of Spain's recovery.

The number of people without jobs fell last year by 433,900, the figures from Spain's national statistics office show. 

Spain has forecast growth of two percent in 2015, one of the fastest growth rates in Europe. However, Santander president Botín believes this rate "could be closer to three percent".

It was a message echoed by Spanish economy minister Luis de Guindos on Thursday when he said the government's forecasts could be revised upwards.

"I think these figures could be better," he said during an interview with private television La Sexta. 

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