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S&P warns of socially explosive situation in euro zone

People hold banners and placards as they march during a protest against government austerity measures in Barcelona March 10, 2013. REUTERS/A
People hold banners and placards as they march during a protest against government austerity measures in Barcelona March 10, 2013. REUTERS/A

BERLIN (Reuters) - Standard and Poor's sees a high risk that Spain, Italy, Portugal and France will not be able to carry through necessary reforms as the unemployed become less willing to put up with austerity, S&P's Germany head Torsten Hinrichs told a newspaper.

"The high unemployment in Spain, Italy and France is socially explosive," Hinrichs was quoted as saying in Monday's Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung.

"There has to be a social consensus for saving measures. High unemployment ... does not help."

Hinrichs said the people of Spain and Portugal had already proven they were willing to bear with austerity measures, but "this cannot continue forever".

In Italy, there was the further danger that "a new government may not be strong enough for the still necessary reforms to strengthen growth," he said.

Hinrichs said S&P still rated Germany as a triple A with stable outlook and did not see any reason for concern: "It is one of the few AAA and stable countries that we still have in Europe".

The weak profitability of the banking sector due to the profusion of banks was the only problem in Germany, he said, although he saw positive changes in the sector in terms of equity capital and refinancing.

(Reporting By Sarah Marsh; Editing by Stephen Powell)

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