Spain's crushing two-year recession ended in the third quarter, the central bank said yesterday. But the reality on the ground remained grim, with unemployment expected to take years to drop from record highs and the young emigrating to find a future.
Preliminary figures show Spain's economy grew 0.1 per cent from July through September compared with the previous quarter. The growth blip, expected to be confirmed October 30 by the national statistics agency, was driven by stronger exports after the economy declined for nine straight quarters.
The government has been trumpeting that the recession would end soon because of reforms and tough austerity measures that it says have helped convince investors Spain is a much safer bet than it was a year ago, when it came close to needing a national bailout like the one that went to Greece.
Even Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates showed some faith in the country's future by buying a stake this week in a Spanish construction company.
Still, experts say the country is just one step along the way towards a meaningful recovery. The unemployment rate, which is due to be updated today for the third quarter, is at a stunning 26.3 per cent.
"Spain is out of the woods in terms of a worst-case scenario of needing a full bailout, but it's going to be a very long-term recovery. Unemployment is going to continue to be very high for a number of years," said Antonio Barroso, an analyst with the London-based Teneo Intelligence consulting firm.