Tuesday, November 20, 2012

SPAIN'S BANKS see bad debts hit new high:
Problem loans at Spain's banks hit a new all-time high in September, as the collapse of the country's property bubble continued to hurt the economy.
However, the BBC makes a huge mistake (one more) on this bit:
An estimated 350,000 families have been evicted from their homes since Spain's property market crashed. There have been widespread news reports in Spain of suicides by some repossession victims, prompting public outrage at the banks.
Yes, there's been approximately 400,000 evictions, but only about 2,500 are families thrown out from their primary homes; all others are evictions from second, or even third, residences; business buildings, commercial space, or even parking spaces. So it's not like 400,000 families have had to go live under a bridge; it's much, much less than that, and most have been assisted by social services on different levels of government or even by private initiatives.

And yes, there's been widespread reports of suicides, although there's been a grand total of 4 (way below the suicide rate in the general population). And in cases that didn't really have much to do with poverty or the financial crisis. For example, the case that prompted the biggest news coverage was that of Amaia Egaña who had, as well as her husband, a well paid job and no financial problems. Thing is, she offered the marital home as collateral on a bank loan to her brother without telling anyone, not even her husband. His brother defaulted, the bank went ahead, and the poor woman, likely because of social and family pressure, still kept mum, not even going on court dates. On the day of the eviction --even if it was announced in advance by the judge-- her husband went to work as usual as he still didn't know anything. When the court officials and police came to her home to evict her, she opened the door -- then jumped off a window. An extremely sad case which was used by the Socialist party (the lady was a former official) to play opposition to the government. Oddly, until November last year the Socialists were in government and they were bragging that they were streamlining the eviction processes.

Another case, yesterday, was of a man who also jumped to death when court officials came to evict him. According to the reports, he was a mentally unstable man and it wasn't a heartless bank prompting the eviction: it was his own family who co-owned the appartment that the man was refusing to vacate.

Just  a bit of perspective.