Consumer debt in Spain

According to figures released yestoday by the Bank of Spain, the rate of borrowing by consumers in Spain reached an all-time high in 2004. Consumer debt rose last year by 17.5 percent up to 595.183 million euros, a huge 74.5 percent of the Spanish GDP. This means that borrowing in Spain has tripled in eight years. In 1996 it stood at 200.000 million euros.

Long-term loans continued to rise by 20 percent, rising to an overall sum of 502.145 million euros in absolute terms. Experts say that the continued rise in Spanish mortgage loans reflects the steady rise in house prices in Spain and the low rates of interest. Spanish banks do not seem to have heeded the warning given by the Bank of Spain last year to moderate the number of mortgage loans they give to their customers, and interest rates in Spain continue to be amongst the lowest in Europe.

Family financial assets in Spain also rose to historic heights in 2004 to 1.

36 billion euros, which is 115,000 million more than the previous year. The net financial wealth of Spanish families also rose by 26,000 million euros with respect to 2003.