SPANISH Prime Minister Rodriguez Zapatero announced plans this week to sell off the family silver in an effort to raise money for the hard-pressed Spanish economy. Zapatero is selling a 49 percent stake in Madrid and Barcelona airports and also part of the National Lottery organisation. On one hand he is saying that all is well and on the other he is holding a major car boot sale. What message is that giving to the financial markets? It is clear by his actions that Spain urgently needs cash but it would have been a better idea if he had put this plan into action at the start of the year rather than waiting until December when Spain is in a difficult financial condition. Zapatero is taking a major gamble; if it pays off then Spain and the euro are safe but if Spain needs a bailout then the future of the single European currency is very much in doubt. The European Union can afford bailouts for Ireland, Greece and Portugal but Spain is a different matter as a result of the size of its economy, (the fourth biggest in the euro zone). Zapatero is facing the fight of his life and the prize is saving the euro and Spain. There are mixed messages coming out of Germany and saving the Spanish economy is not high on their list of priorities. Zapatero is facing the ultimate test.
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