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Leonid Bershidsky

Two Points for Austerity: Spain and Ireland

These bailed-out countries are recovering nicely.
Spain is growing.

Spain is growing.

Photographer: Javier Soriano/AFP/Getty Images

Spain and Ireland now have the euro zone's most dynamic economies: The International Monetary Fund expects Spain to expand by 3.1 percent this year and Ireland, by 4 percent -- realistic expectations, in light of their progress in the first six months. Given this performance, one has to wonder how long any economists can continue to condemn austerity as deadly poison based on the example of Greece.

Spain grew 0.9 percent in the first quarter of 2015 and 1 percent in the second. Perhaps some of that can be attributed to an increase in tourists who prefer Spain to unstable Greece, but the first two quarters of the year are mostly low season. And the tourist argument works both ways: Spain is recovering, so people would rather travel there than to Greece. Besides, manufacturing, construction, wholesale and retail trade, and professional services all made positive contributions to first-quarter growth.