DARK CLOUDS are looming over Spain's economy, no matter how many times Zapatero brags about 4.1% GDP growth. This Telegraph report has received zero attention in Spain:
Spain's foreign reserves have plummeted to wafer-thin levels, leaving the country exposed to a possible banking crisis if the property market swings from boom to bust - despite membership of the eurozone.
The Banco de Espana's holdings of foreign currencies and gold have fallen to €13.2bn (£9.02bn), equivalent to 12 days of imports.
Over the past two months the Banco de España has sold off 80 tonnes of gold, flooding the world market with enough bullion to dampen the usual spring rally. The bank has reduced its holdings of US Treasuries, British gilts, and other investments at a similar rate.
Total reserves have now fallen by two thirds from €41.5bn in early 2002. Greece and Portugal have seen a similar drop.
By contrast, the overall reserves of the eurozone system have remained stable. France (€76bn), Germany (€86bn), Italy (€59.5bn) have all kept holdings at full strength since the launch of the euro.
The Banco de España refused to comment on the sales, leaving it unclear why reserves have fallen so low, or where the money has gone.
It appears the bank has been draining the reserves to help finance the current account deficit, which has ballooned to 9.5pc of GDP, reaching €8.6bn in January alone.
"The current account is completely out of control," said Alberto Mattelan, an economist at Inverseguros in Madrid.