From Spain, an exodus of capital

A securities firm said capital pulled from Spain in the past three months has equaled 50 percent of the country's total economic output.

Spaniards pulled a record $94 billion out of their bank accounts in July, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

With the unemployment rate near 25 percent and the Spanish banking system in a tailspin, middle class Spaniards are moving capital and sometimes their families out of the country, fearing a return to the peseta and a devaluation of their savings.

Although experts say it is not in the cards, many Spaniards also fear the government will freeze funds to ensure an orderly transition to the peseta, should that occur.

The fear of an economic collapse accelerated when the government took over mortgage giant Bankia in May, pumping $6.2 billion into that institution alone, the Times said.

The international community has also offered $125 billion to shore up Spain's banking system.

Securities trading giant Nomura said the equivalent of half of the country's gross domestic product had been transferred out of Spain in the past three months, the Times reported.

Much of that has been foreign investors distancing themselves from the Spanish economy. But it is beginning to also include middle-class Spaniards, said economist Jose Garcia Montalvo at Pompeu Fabra University.

“No doubt there is a little bit of panic. The wealthy people have already taken their money out. Now it's the professionals and mid-range people who are moving their money to Germany and London. The mood is very, very bad,” Montalvo said.

Copyright 2012 by United Press International