My colleague Jeremy Warner has set off a storm in the Spanish press and something close to a diplomatic incident by asserting in a blog that Spain is insolvent.
The Telegraph has been accused by Spanish newspapers of launching a "brutal attack", succumbing to "Hispanophobia", leading an Anglo-Saxon assault, and otherwise trying to divert attention away from Britain's own lamentable condition. Spanish readers might be comforted to know that we are even more brutal with our own leaders.
Since I was in Madrid last week as a guest of the Spanish government, let me add my half-penny to the debate. Spain has already done all that can reasonably be expected of any nation, enduring its "calvario" with dignity and fortitude. It has slashed internal consumption by 16 percentage points of GDP without triggering a social explosion - "no mean feat", said one minister.
Whether the country proves to be solvent or insolvent by mid-decade depends almost entirely on the future actions of the European Central Bank and the northern creditor powers. Nothing is pre-determined.
Data released on Wednesday shows that Euroland is in even an deeper double-dip recession than feared, with the risk of a Japanese-style slump stretching on for years. There was no outside shock to explain this relapse. It was caused by policy error, and those policies have not been corrected.
If Euroland sticks to its grim path of synchronized contraction on all fronts - fiscal, monetary and bank deleveraging - and if it continues to impose all the burden of intra-EMU adjustment on the deficit states in a replay of the early 1930s, then it will push Spain, Portugal and others over a cliff.
There has been much talk of retreat from austerity but all this means is that Europe no longer insists on chasing its own tail in a downward spiral. It will not demand extra cuts to make up deficit shortfalls created by recession itself. Pro-cyclical fiscal tightening will continue.
The ECB has a special duty of care to Spain. It played its role in causing the crisis, holding interest rates too low in the early years of EMU to nurse Germany through its post-unification bust. The result was a double-digit surge in the eurozone's M3 money supply and uncontrollable credit booms as northern banks flooded the South with cheap capital. Spain was as much sinned against as sinner.
The ECB has now swung from too loose to too tight, allowing M3 to stagnate for the whole of Euroland, with EMU-wide loans contracting, and deflation gaining a foothold in a string of countries. The ECB's latest quarter point cut in rates does not keep pace. Real rates are rising.
Frankfurt has the monetary tools to reverse this. It could pursue a reflationary policy that would help lift Spain and others off the reefs. It chooses not to do so.
The consequence of the EU policy mix for Spain is a contraction in "nominal" GDP, down 1.8pc last year. This means the national debt stock of around 320pc of GDP - 212pc private, and 86pc public, plus other arrears - is rising on a shrinking base.
Britain's debt levels are roughly the same. But the UK's nominal GDP is growing at nearly 4pc as a result of covert monetisation by the Bank of England. The debt sits on an expanding base. The compound effect spells two different destinies.
The European Commission refers repeatedly to this as the "denominator effect" in its "In-Depth Review" of Spain's imbalances last month. It is why Spain's net international investment position (NIIP) deteriorated from minus 89.5pc to minus 91.7pc of GDP in 2011, even though the country is paying off foreign debts. The report described the level as "very high", far above the safe threshold of 35pc.
Spain is making heroic efforts to adjust. Officials are rightly proud that exports are flourishing, keeping pace with those of Germany. Shipments have risen 15pc to Africa and 13pc to Asia over the past year, as struggling firms scour the world for a lifeline.
For the first time in living memory, the country is clawing its way back to competitiveness without a devaluation. Total exports in January and February were up 5pc from a year before, a startling contrast to the 3.2pc fall in Britain, where the long-awaited fruit of devaluation never seems to arrive.
The roots of Spanish export success lie in the high productivity of its world class companies Iberdola, Telefonica and Santander, so like the "dualism" of Japan where the exporting "Samurai" seem decoupled from the internal economy.
Spain's car industry has clearly turned the corner. Ford is closing its Genk car plant in Belgium and shifting the work to Valencia. Volkswagen is to invest ?785m in Pamplona to build Polos. France's Renault is to boost output by 30pc at its plants in Valladolid and Palencia by 2015.
They are betting on Spain because Spanish workers have agreed to keep plants open seven days a week, to toil on Sundays without overtime pay, and to accept wage deals below inflation. A blast of Iberian Thatcherism is at last blowing away the thickets of the 1970s.
The reforms are patchy. The Commission says labour markets are still "overly rigid". Yet there is no doubt that Spain is becoming a different country. Officials at the infrastructure group FCC said they have five teams of workers operating seven cement factories around the country to cut costs, so amenable these days that they are willing to carry out shifts 200 miles from their homes. "We couldn't think think of doing that at our plant in Austria," said one manager.
Spain has closed much of the gap in unit labour costs (ULC) with the eurozone core built up in the early years of EMU, though part of this is a statistical illusion caused by the property crash. More than 1.6m low productivity jobs in construction have disappeared, boosting the average productivity level.
The Commission says Spain lost 20pc in exchange rate competitiveness from 2000 to 2008, and has gained back 7pc so far. "The adjustment of ULC has been largely driven by the economic recession and very high unemployment, and it could partly reverse once the cyclical conditions improve."
The elemental problem for Spain is that if does manage to pull off an "internal devaluation" by cutting wages back to parity, it will make its debt burden worse. It is damned if it does, and damned if it doesn't.
The country is already in deflation. Prices fell 0.6pc last month, stripping out the one-off effects of higher VAT and levies. Officials appear delighted by victory over inflation but they should be careful what they wish for. The "denominator effect" is going to bite even deeper.
Raoul Ruparel from Open Europe said Spain's export boom is impressive but from a low base. Exports are just 30pc of GDP, compared with 105pc for Ireland, 91pc for Estonia, 84pc for Belgium, 83pc for Holland, 59pc for Latvia or 50pc for Germany. The economic gearing is far lower. "We don't think exports can offset the collapse in internal demand," he said.
Nor is it clear whether Spain can keep up the export momentum based on running down old plant. Fixed investment fell 9.1pc last year, and is expected to fall another 7.6pc this year.
Smaller firms are facing an acute credit crunch, forced to pay 250 basis points more for credit than core-EMU rivals, if they can raise money at all. The ECB's bond purchase lifeline for Spain has brough down bond spreads and eliminated the risk of a sovereign funding crisis for now, but it has yet to filter through to the frontline.
The Commission said part of the export surge is "cyclical". The switch to a healthy trade balance "remains incomplete". The current account sould be in balance this year but the fact that Spain is still near deficit with 27pc unemployment begs the question of how many lives must be blighted for Spain to generate big enough surpluses to pay down external debt.
The level of pain still to come depends on the housing market, the great disaster that has infected everything. Prices are down 33pc from the peak so far, or 45pc in real terms. The government's stress test for the banks is premised on a real fall of 50pc. If that proves correct, Spain is nearly there.
If the dissenters are right, Spain is nowhere near bottom. Madrid consultants RR de Acuna have a report coming out this month warning that the glut of unsold properties has risen to a fresh peak of 2.25m homes, including those in the hands of builders and banks, or in the eviction process.
"It will take 10 years to get rid of the stock. We're pretty sure that prices will bleed another 15pc," said Fernando Rodriguez de Acuna. "The market is broken, and the quoted prices in many areas are a fiction. You can't sell even if you offer a 50pc haircut. A lot of buildings will have to be knocked down and land is going to revert to farmland, or just to nothing."
If he is right, it is going to be a long hard struggle for Spain. As the Commission says, the Spanish people have "gradually exhausted their financial asset buffers".
The hot dispute over Jeremy Warner's blog is a surprise since the pro-EU chief economist of Citigroup, Willem Buiter, has been arguing for some time that Spain will need debt restructuring, as have others. The issue is standard debate in financial circles.
Mr Buiter's latest report says there will be "no light at the end of the tunnel" for another two to three years, predicting that Spain's economy will shrink by a further 2.1pc in 2014. That would play havoc with debt dynamics. "If it happens we're in serious trouble," said a senior official.
At the end of the day, the question for the Spanish people is not whether they can hold their place in EMU for year after year by further sacrifice, but whether it is in their national and human interest to do so.
They are a great nation. They can demand different terms from Europe, and sooner or later they will.