spanish demonstrators angry over mortgage rates
Last Updated : GMT 06:41:18
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Spanish demonstrators angry over mortgage rates

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Spanish demonstrators angry over mortgage rates

Madrid - AFP

Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets of the Spanish capital on Saturday to decry interest rates and the role of financial institutions in the country\'s debt crisis. The protests were called in Madrid and seven other cities by an association of banking customers to condemn government-endorsed protections of the financial sector and the interest rates banks charge on loans and mortgages. \"Stick \'em up, it\'s a robbery,\" demonstrators chanted outside the Bank of Spain and other banks. Demonstrator Juan Carlos Fumo, 60, said he was one of the country\'s approximately five million unemployed. He said he bought his house four years ago for 166,000 euros ($220,000) but its value had plummeted to 66,000 euros. Nonetheless, he said, his bank refused to renegotiate his loan and he must pay 935 euros a month at what he considered the too-high rate of four percent. \"I am a victim of a junk mortgage,\" Fumo said. The Spanish economy, the eurozone\'s fourth largest, shrank by 0.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011 and the government has warned that the drop will likely be steeper in the first quarter of this year. The economy is still reeling from a 2008 housing bubble collapse, which destroyed millions of property-related jobs and was then compounded by the global financial and eurozone debt crises. More than one in four Spaniards is now out of work -- the highest rate in the industrialised world.

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