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“The IMF is demanding an end to the excessive austerity in countries like Spain,” headlines El País following the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund held October 11 in Tokyo.

The Director of the Fund, Christine Lagarde, has indeed called for “more time” to be given to countries to implement austerity measures.

According to El País, the statement marks —

... the high point of a Copernican turn in the IMF's view of the crisis, a vision that has evolved from a radical orthodoxy to [...] a fresh and promising realism. Many, especially among the group of leaders of the European Union, with Germany in the lead, should try to understand and take onboard these decisions.

The Madrid daily sums up the “four elements” that make the Spanish economy the global “centre of attention” in the conclusions of the IMF —

Spain is second-last place in the global growth forecast for 2013; its total bail-out by the EU is urgently needed to prevent new episodes of turbulence; if the Spanish government demands it, the more prosperous countries, like Germany, should make it easier; peripheral countries should be given longer periods to meet their commitments to lower the public deficit.

Lagarde's statements coincided with a new downgrade of Spain by Standard & Poor's, from BBB + to BBB-, or just one notch above the ‘speculative’ rating (junk bond). El País qualifies the decision as a —

... miserable disqualification, because it combines a critical analysis similar to that of the IMF with an alarmist and hyper-politicised rhetoric, to show itself [the ratings agency] as being a self-styled arbiter above all suspicion. This agency – and the others as well – should reflect on the effectiveness of their analyses.