'Zombie Buildings' Plague Spain's Economy

The burst of the housing bubble is still causing major economic turmoil in Spain, where 1.5 million "zombie" housing units sit empty.
September 22, 2010, 9am PDT | Nate Berg
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"Some 1.5 million unfinished, unsold or unwanted residential units stand scattered across the country, products of a still-deflating housing bubble that threatens to undermine Spain's broader economy for years to come. It is the hangover after an epic fiesta, a period Spaniards now refer to as 'cuando pensábamos que éramos ricos'-'when we thought we were rich.'

Once hailed as early proof of the success of the euro, Europe's single currency, Spain's low interest rates from the mid-1990s and its proximity to richer neighbors ushered in a decade-long period of prosperity.

Now, as a recovery remains elusive across the continent, Spain's ability to revive growth is considered a vital test of the future stability of the currency and Europe's economic health."

The building boom and a fleet of bad loans have left Spain's housing market in a painful spot, one similar to that being faced in the U.S.

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Published on Thursday, September 16, 2010 in The Wall Street Journal
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