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NÓS VISTOS POR ELES: Portugal, um blueprint para a Espanha e a Grécia

«Two decades ago, Portugal was regarded as an economic success. The country in the early and mid-1990s took steps to liberalize its economy, including an ambitious program of privatizing state companies, that led to rising wages and an investment-led boom.

Membership in the euro was expected to build on those gains by giving Portugal a stable currency, low interest rates and unfettered access to one of the world's largest trade zones. The country's booming economy left it in good shape to meet the common-currency zone annual budget deficit limit of no more than 3% of GDP.

But Portugal's boom contained the seeds of its own destruction. The rise in government tax revenue removed the urgency for unpopular spending cuts and economic liberalization. The government added workers, costs that would be hard to trim later.

Meanwhile, after Portugal adopted the euro in 1999, its dominant textiles industry wasn't able to use cheaper loans and a large common market to build a foundation for longer-term growth. Portugal's textiles were too expensive to compete with cheaper goods from China or Eastern Europe, but also lacked the high-fashion credentials of those from France or Italy.

Portugal's deficit soon exceeded the zone's limit. In 2002 it became the first euro-zone member to be slapped with an excessive-deficit warning.

[Portugal Feels Austerity's Bite, The Wall Street Journal]

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