The global economic crisis is worsening, especially in the hard-hit Eurozone, where nation after nation continues to struggle with a growing recession coupled with high unemployment, rising debt and low growth.
One of the zone's biggest sufferers is Spain, which recently began considering a measure that would allow foreigners permanent residency if they purchase a home worth at least $200,000.
As the country's unemployment rises and its recession worsens, government officials are getting desperate in search of ways to reduce a glut of vacant real estate. Unveiled by Trade Ministry Secretary Jaime Garcia-Legaz in recent days, the plan stands a good chance of being approved in the coming weeks. It would be aimed primarily at Chinese and Russian buyers, say various reports.
There are more than 700,000 unsold homes in a country of 47.1 million following the collapse of the real estate market in the U.S. and much of Western Europe in 2008. Demand in the stagnant domestic market remains moribund due to economic conditions.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said in late November that while the plan has yet to be finalized, Spain "needs to sell these homes" because getting rid of the growing surplus could work to revive the country's battered construction industry.
Guess they need 'the wealthy' now
The plan comes as tens of thousands of homes have been repossessed by banks, their owners evicted over their inability to pay their mortgages (sound familiar?). Though the government in mid-November approved a decree curbing evictions for two years in specific cases of dire need, average Spaniards continue to lose their homes nonetheless.
Spain's residency plan undercuts similar proposals in other hard-hit Eurozone nations such as Ireland and neighboring Portugal, where residency papers are offered to foreigners who buy houses worth more than $510,000 and $638,000 respectively.
Guess these European socialists need "the wealthy" now.
Some European countries; however, are lower than Spain. They include Latvia, on the Baltic Coast, which offers residency for buyers who purchase real estate in the capital city of Riga worth $178,000, or $89,000 in the countryside.
Spain is currently suffering through a double-dip recession - something a number of analysts are predicting will happen in the United States in the coming year - with unemployment surpassing 25 percent.
Rajoy says he believes Spain has nonetheless managed to avoid a financial implosion and its economy could actually start growing again in late 2013.
"I'm convinced that the worst is over," Rajoy told reporters after meeting with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff recently.
Spain, like other Eurozone nations (and the U.S.), grasping for economic lifelines
But for now, the financial problems - and ways to deal with it - persist. In recent days, the country easily raised 3.9 billion euros ($4.9) as Madrid ponders whether to tap into a financial facility that was designed in part to help ease the country's financial pressure.
To raise the funds, the treasury sold 1.71 billion euros worth of three-year bonds at an average interest rate of 3.66 percent. That was unchanged from the last auction of its kind in early November. The country also sold 644 million euros of five-year bonds at 4.52 percent, which was less than the 4.68 percent last time.
That said, as the residency-for-homes plan indicates, Spain - like Greece, Ireland and other Eurozone nations - continues to grasp at any life preserver it can find in order to stave off collapse and be forced to deal with the hordes of citizens who will no doubt take out their anger on their elected officials.
A number of analysts fear that is the future of the U.S., as Washington faces dire choices of its own making over how to best deal with the consequences of an impending "fiscal cliff" - options that will include major new tax increases, dramatic cuts to the budget or, most likely, both.
As always, prepare.
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