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OECD Economic Surveys: Spain 2017

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Spain is enjoying a robust recovery from a deep recession and a wide range of structural reforms has contributed to sustainable rises in living standards. Highly accommodative euro-area monetary policy, low oil prices and, more recently, expansionary fiscal policy have all supported domestic demand. Exports have been a particular bright spot, as Spain has resisted the slowdown in global export growth. However, raising well-being and GDP per capita, particularly via productivity increases, and making growth more inclusive remains a challenge. Spain has long suffered from very low productivity growth, which has restrained increases in living standards. Misallocation of capital towards low productivity firms and underinvestment in innovation have dragged down productivity, although more recently capital allocation has been improving. Policies to foster a better allocation of capital and higher productivity include reducing regulatory barriers in product markets that are holding back competition, encouraging higher investment in R&D and innovation and ensuring that capital goes to a wider set of innovative firms. Reducing entry barriers and improving framework conditions would also help to foster green investment. The unemployment rate is gradually falling down thanks to stronger growth, but it remains very high, particularly among the young and long-term unemployed. The high share of long-term unemployed risks loss of skills, disaffection and alienation. Poverty has also risen, mainly due to lack of quality jobs that provide enough hours of paid work to support decent incomes. Part of the answer is continued strong economic growth, but strengthening training and job placement and better minimum income support are crucial.

SPECIAL FEATURES: IMPROVING JOB QUALITY; INNOVATIVE BUSINESS INVESTMENT

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Assessment and recommendations

Spain’s economic recovery, underway since 2013, has been one of the strongest in the OECD thanks to a wide-ranging agenda of structural reform (), highly expansionary euro area monetary policy, easier fiscal policy, and significant repair of the banking system. Dynamic growth and wage moderation have led to strong employment gains, bringing down unemployment from very high levels and providing consumers with more income. Exports have grown strongly despite weak global markets, reflecting improving wage competitiveness and have helped turn a current account deficit into a surplus. Further economic growth at a pace above 2% annually is likely in the short term.

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