Hi Fernando, greetings from Barcelona,
Hi! I have family in Barcelona and go there often. Unfortunately its been degrading considerably in the last few years, one of the reasons why I didn’t end up there myself.
As you suspect already, there are chances of a corralito or something similar taking place in Spain, and its not just me saying it, its Economy Nobel Paul Krugman saying it.
What are the chances of this happening first in Greece and then in Spain? Significant enough that you should take action. Spain is already devaluating via reduction of salaries but its just not enough, eventually they will have to do something, and the big players already moved their money out. Once again, it’s the low and medium class which will get hurt the most. So going to your first question:
first, the chances of a corralito happening in Spain and what “signals” we could watch for in order to see it coming. Most probably there is a correlation between this and Spain leaving the eurozone.
The signals are everything you’ve been seeing for the last few years, the crisis all around you is textbook, almost a copy of what happened in Argentina in 2001. High unemployment, increase of poverty, reduction of the standards of living, increased taxations, impossible debt and a construction bubble that burst leaving the country in awful financial shape. Finally, you have a currency such as the Euro, which can easily flee the country. This is a key point because it indicates that when the time comes a corralito must be enforced to keep everyone from running from the sinking ship. You no longer have to worry about seeing these signs or not, but you should be worried about getting hurt as little as possible when it happens. About the second part of your question, yes I believe its very likely to end up detaching from the Eurozone and only the stronger player remaining within the EU, or maybe turned into an Eurozone Grade A and B, so as to protect the countries that are still afloat from going down with the ones that are sinking. A worst case scenario would be a total disintegration of the EU, but I believe they will try to avoid it as much as possible.
– second, what measures would you take to secure your money, ie to protect it against a corralito,
It will depend mostly on how much money you have. Banks in Spain simply aren’t safe for you, so any money in it is at risk. I would have at least a month worth of expenses in cash at hand, in Euros. This you will need during the first weeks. If Spain goes Argentina December 19th 2001, it will not be pretty, so also stock up on the basics so often mentioned here in my blog, not forgetting about food, water, any medications you may need, some tool for self defense, hopefully a firearm which you can legally own in Spain. I know that what you are looking at today is of concern, and I’m not trying to be a jerk but the worst is yet to come. You will have to learn to fend for yourself in terms of security because the Spain of the future will be more dangerous than the one you know now.
If you have more money then you have to think what to do with it. A percentage of it will be safe in precious metals, if you have more or if you want to diversify your assets and a trip to Switzerland is a good idea. No doubt that’s what many rich did already. Stocks would be safe in theory, but given their volatile nature I don’t feel comfortable with them, especially for economic disaster planning.
The “Bancolchon” (matress bank) is viable but up to a certain amount of cash. Say you have a pile of Euros under the mattress today, and tomorrow they bring back the peseta which you have a limited time to exchange your Euros for at a disadvantage rate, then your cash isn’t protecting you much. In this case money in precious metals or in a foreign account is safe until the dust settles and you can later exchange for whatever currency or rate becomes standard. You have a point about Swiss banks throwing Spain and Greece citizens under the train if the governments ask for their citizen´s information. You would have to go looking to Panama or Singapore for off shore banking. In spite of this possibility having at least the money outside Spain would protect you from the imminent effects of the corralito.
I´d stop looking for signs, they are all already there, and do what you can to protect your assets right now. The situation in Spain is bad and will keep getting worse. The only question is how bad will it get for the rest of Europe and how long can they keep the EU together.