Until 2008 the economy of Spain had been regarded as one of the most dynamic within the EU, attracting significant amounts of foreign investment. Spain’s economy had been credited with having avoided the virtual zero growth rates of some of its largest partners in the EU. In fact, the country’s economy had created more than half of all the new jobs in the European Union over the five years ending 2005.
More recently, the Spanish economy had benefited greatly from the global real estate boom, with construction representing an astonishing 16% of GDP and 12% of employment in its final year. According to calculations by the German newspaper Die Welt, Spain had been on course to overtake countries like Germany in per capita income by 2011. However, the downside of the now defunct real estate boom was a corresponding rise in the levels of personal debt; as prospective homeowners had struggled to meet asking prices, the average level of household debt tripled in less than a decade.