economics

Bank of Spain Delays Publication of Inequality Study

Updated on
  • Governor had pledged to include study in its annual report
  • Pensioners, low-wage earners are clamoring for higher incomes

The Bank of Spain delayed the publication of promised research into social inequality amid a a public debate over the way the benefits of the country’s economic boom are being shared out.

Governor Luis Maria Linde told a parliamentary committee in April that the bank would include a “very detailed” analysis on inequality as part of its annual report. The document published Tuesday did not contain the study and the bank said a one-time report on income inequality will be released at a future date.

As Spain’s economic expansion stretches into its fifth year, pensioners and Spaniards in low-wage jobs are demanding a bigger share of the wealth that’s being created. The backlash against the legacy of austerity poses a problem for Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy as he battles to assert the government’s authority in Catalonia where a separatist regional president has just taken office.

Socialist party economic spokesman in parliament Pedro Saura, who quizzed the governor on the issue in April, said he was puzzled by the decision not to include the analysis in the annual report. “The chapter on inequality expected in the 2017 annual report of the Bank of Spain disappears,” he said on his verified twitter account. “The government isn’t interested.”

The Bank of Spain declined to comment when contacted by Bloomberg.

Unlike previous editions, this year’s annual report contained just three chapters, making it the shortest since at least 1998. The report only hinted at the unequal wealth distribution issue as it conceded there had been a “notable increase” in inequality in Spain as a result of the economic crisis and pointed to unemployment as the biggest driver of social disparity.

Bloomberg reported last week that the Bank of Spain was debating how to handle the study. The bank was set to release it as a separate research paper, according to two people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly.

(Updates with story to include comments from Socialist parliament spokesman.)
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