Anti-Austerity Protests Return To Spain

In two weeks the Greek economy will once again suffer the consequences of European indentured servitude when it two main labor unions will grind the system to a halt with a general strike against planned austerity measures on September 26. Spain, however, can't wait, and is already out in the streets (video of today's protest can be found at BBC). From Al Jazeera: "Thousands of Spanish anti-austerity protesters have taken to the streets of Madrid to rally against government cuts aimed at cutting the public deficit. The demonstrators assembled in groups at noon on Saturday along the central streets of the capital city in a protest against spending cuts and tax rises. The developments came as Luis de Guindos, economy minister, said that Spain's borrowing costs still do not reflect the country's economic and fiscal adjustment, despite their recent easing." The key word uttered that makes this whole protest a moot point: "referendum" - silly Europeans don't seem to get quite yet that Democracy has been dead for decades, supplanted by kleptofascist globalization with just enough handouts for the lower and middle classes (usually in terms of welfare promises) to keep everyone happy. Actually make that silly Americans and Asians too.

The irony in all this of course is that this makes the circle of chaos in Spain is complete. On one hand people are protesting wage cuts; on the other Spain itself is insolvent as priced in by the market which anticipates Spain will eventually request a rescue by the ECB in turn sending its bonds lower; on the third hand Rajoy has now made it clear as long as Spanish bonds are cheap he will not request a bailout; on the fourth hand, the recent action by the Fed appears to have finally broken the hope trade with Spanish bonds sliding even as the IBEX ripped meaning very soon not only will Spain run out of cash, but even assuming Rajoy requests a bailout which he will once SPGBs hit 8%, rates will likely resume rising. 

From Al Jazeera:

Over 1,000 buses ferried people to Madrid for the protest, which was co-ordinated by two of Spain's leading trade unions, CCOO and UGT, along with roughly 150 smaller organisations.

The head of the UGT, Candido Mendez, said Spanish people should be given the chance "to clearly say whether they are in agreement or not" with the spending cuts.

"It is not inevitable that that the markets govern us, that Spain gets a bailout for its economy," he said.

Demonstrators vented their frustrations by holding aloft banners with slogans such as "Let's go! They are ruining the country and will have to pay for it."

Many wore different coloured T-shirts to represent their profession: teachers wore green; health-care workers were in white; public administration workers in black.

By mid-morning several major roads had been blocked as buses unloaded protesters at 10 rendezvous points from which marches began.

The government said it expected more than half a million people to reach Christopher Columbus Square where union leaders are to deliver speeches.

Tying it all together is the recent revelation that despite protests, Europe, Spain included, never really experienced "austerity" - Spanish demonstrators may well be angry at sliding wages, at a collapsing housing market, and other inevitable outcomes of mean reversion, but it is not due to a slower pace of debt accumulation (and certainly not due to a decline in debt). If protestors want to voice their displeasure with politician ineptitude, and the pervasive government sector, which is the true cause for their plight, go ahead and do so, best in election format, but don't for a minute think it has anything to do with austerity and prudent fiscal behavior.