Oct.23 - Spain's economy exited a two-year recession in the third quarter thanks to strong exports. Andrew Potter reports.
Spain has endured a gloomy economic environment. But finally, some sunshine. Spain's central bank says the country has emerged from recession for the first time in two years. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) SPANISH PRIME MINISTER, MARIANO RAJOY, SAYING: "As all are aware, exports and tourism are currently the main drivers behind the Spanish economy which has now ended its recession, as ratified today by the Bank of Spain, and is now slowly and gradually initiating its recovery." It's tiny growth for the third quarter, just 0.1 percent, but the Spanish government says it shows its deeply unpopular spending cuts are working. Treasury minister Cristobal Montoro. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) SPANISH TREASURY MINISTER, CRISTOBAL MONTORO, SAYING: (SOUNDBITE CONTINUES OVER SHOT OF PARLIAMENT) "If we continue on this path and don't deviate from our priorities, we will find a way out of this crisis as soon as possible, returning to the Spain which loves employment, the Spain of economic growth." More than a quarter of Spaniards are unemployed. And if the economy's improving few say they can feel it yet. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) MADRID RESIDENT, GREGORIO FERNANDEZ, SAYING: "I think it's a lie, there is more unemployment, more everything. I don't think so, I think it's as before, more or less." (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) LAWYER, CRISTOBAL, SAYING: "Yes, from a technical perspective we're out of recession but, in the real economy related to people on the streets, we still can't see it, we wish we could." Spain's economy has shrunk by 7.5 percent since 2008 when the property market collapsed, leaving millions out of work and driving thousands of companies bankrupt. Ironically that's meant workers are cheaper to hire, making Spain more productive than some European rivals, driving up exports. But demand at home remains stagnant, and sustained growth could prove elusive for years to come.