Business, Finance & Economics

Spain's growing debt problem

Santa Coloma is a working class town. Its housing projects are visible from a mile away. This woman is going to the market but she says her husband's pension barely keeps food on the table. She says sometimes she goes without water or electricity. She, like one in five Spaniards, lives in poverty, and she's worried that she won't be able to pay the mortgage on her small apartment as food prices go up. With so many people in debt, debt collectors have been more in demand by collection agencies. In Spain, those agencies are particularly effective. One of the leaders in the debt collecting sector is this company, whose offices in Barcelona are busy even on a Friday evening. They use public humiliation as a particularly effective tactic. The president of the company explains: this country is a nest of rogues so we call attention to the debtor so the people around him realize he is shameless and that's the last thing the debtor wants. The company will dispatch an agent dressed in a tuxedo and top hat and carries a briefcase with DEBT COLLECTOR printed on it and follows you everywhere. This kind of stalking is perfectly legal in Spain and this analyst says Spain is the only country that doesn't regulate the activity of debt collection companies. The company's business has boomed by 40% over the last year. It success has also provided boon for debtor defender companies, such as this one. Both agencies are likely to earn record profits in the year to come.

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