The economic crisis in the euro zone is “far from over,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel†said in her New Year message and in definite contrast to what her finance minister, Wolfgang SchaŁble, had said the day before.
Along with other prominent politicians and officials, SchaŁble had declared that the “worst of the financial crisis” has passed. But on Friday, Merkel said that “the economic environment next year will not be easier, but more difficult.”
She added that this reality “should not discourage us, but — on the contrary — serve as an incentive” to press forward with reforms including increased monitoring of financial markets. But with many euro zone economies struggling to return to growth (or even not to slip further into recession), and public anger against austerity measures apparent in protests and strikes that have become routine in, it is no wonder that Merkel acknowledged that “many are also heading into the new year with trepidation.”
Recent developments in five of the euro zone’s 27 member nations suggest why.
1. Spain Is Still In a Recession
Many contend that the government has bailed out the country’s banks at the expense of ordinary Spaniards who have turned out for protests. There have been numerous reports of people who, unable to pay their mortgages, have jumped from their balconies rather than face eviction and of others squatting in abandoned building projects. Unemployed adults, teenage children in tow, have been left homeless and moved in with elderly parents whose pensions have become the family’s only source of income.
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