|Huevos, up by 114% since euro|
SPAIN The only things that have come down in price since the arrival of the euro ten years ago on January 1, 2001, are related to technology. According to OCU (Organización de Consumidores y Usuarios), the consumers organization, bread, a basic necessity in the country's shopping basket, rose by a whacking 81% since then. The officical shopping basket used as a measuring stick for these things, went up from costing an annual average of €4,600 to its present €6,800, an increase of 48%. The average salary, though, went up by a mere 14% in comparison. Some other items: eggs, up by 114%, milk, 48%; rice, 48% and olive oil, 33%. These among a lot of other items. OCU says that this is the moment to 'do some maths' as 'neither the euro nor the EU are going through their best moments' and there is an abundance of rumours about returning to pesetas, marks, francs or whatever. Other comparative prices rises include>>>IF YOU FIND THIS ARTICLE INTERESTING, USEFUL OR ENTERTAINING, PLEASE CONSIDER THE WORK, EFFORT AND COST IT TAKES TO BRING IT TO YOU. WE WOULD APPRECIATE A DONATION TO CONTINUE A FREE SERVICE.
housing, for instance, which went up by 78% in Madrid for a 'used' home. New builds were up by 66% per square metre, according to the Sociedad de Tasación (Society of Valuers). Public transport is no exception either: up by 45% for train journeys since 2002, travel by bus is 48% more expensive, and urban transport by 58%. Fuel, petrol or diesel, went up by an increasingly prohibitive 48% since the pre-euro days.
In fact, 'technology', as it's called in Spanish, are the only things that went down. Television sets, sound systems and DVD readers now cost 62% less than ten years ago. Photo cameras went down by 72% and white goods, by only 4%.
The annual average salary in Spain, according to the Instituto Nacional de Estadística (INE, or National Statistics Institute), was €19,802 in 2002, and in 2009 (the latest figures available) it was €22,511 - only up by 14% from 2002 to 2009.
OCU says that many, probably most, salaries are increased according to the Índice de Precios de Consumo (IPC, or Consumers Price Index). The accumulated variation for the index is 32%, which does not therefore reflect the general price increases since the euro came into being. Their figures point out that if salaries had grown in direct proportion to salaries, Spaniards should have an extra €3,600 in their pockets.
Among many measures being taken by the new government, is freezing the minimum wage at its present level, and cutting salaries to civil servants, as well as freezing (or possibly cutting back) old age pensions. The question then arises: who has benefitted the most from keeping wages and salaries as low as this? And the answer is: employers.
Nevertheless, it is a matter of common sense: less money to spend, less products are bought. But common sense has no price, yet it is priceless.
© 2011 Alberto Bullrich