Seseña and the ruin of Spain

Monday, 30 January, 2012

Novak Djokovic beats Rafael Nadal in a five-set epic Australian Open final; passengers are stranded at Spanish airports after Spanair abruptly goes bust, cancelling all its flights with a half an hour’s notice, and the country’s unemployment rate reaches 22.8 percent, leaving almost 5.3 million Spaniards out of work. When it rains, it pours and it stays mainly in the plain in Spain, which is where Seseña happens to be located.

Seseña, in Toledo province, is home to a property development that encapsulates the madness which has led to Spain’s dramatic fall from prosperity to poverty. Of the 13,000 apartments in Residencial Francisco Hernando, barely ten percent are occupied, and anyone who dares venture into this spectral space cannot wait to find the exit sign. But this is not the only development of its kind. In 2006 alone, 800,000 apartments were built in Spain — more than in France, Italy and Germany combined that year. Like Ireland, which was similarly gripped by an irrational property speculation fever, Spain is facing ruin. At the end of September last year, El Pais reported that Spanish banks had some €210 billion worth of mortgages on their balance sheets and 40 percent of that amount was said to be “doubtful”. That should give those meeting in Brussels today something extra to think about as they ponder what to do about the crisis engulfing the world’s “lifestyle superpower”.

The pain in Spain

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