It was a lesson learned in Greece, where despite successive European bailouts, about a third of deposits have been withdrawn from its banks since 2009, as the public worried that Athens might have to return to the drachma.
Spain is still a far cry from a nearly bankrupt Greece: it has a much larger and more diverse economy, lower levels of debt and a bond market that is still functioning.
It might be more accurate to say that money is leaving Spanish banks at more of a jog than anything close to a sprint.
Although retail and corporate deposits are down 10 percent compared with those of July 2011, the country remains relatively rich in savings, with 2.3 trillion euros in overall deposits, according to data from Morgan Stanley.
But once under way, the flight of bank deposits can easily overwhelm rational facts and analysis.
Setting off the flight was the failure of Bankia, which came as a shock to Spanish savers who had been assured by government officials that the bank was in good shape.
Instead of calming fears, the state takeover prompted comparisons to Argentina in 2001, when peso bank accounts denominated in dollars were frozen in order to stem the flight of deposits.
The corralito, or corral, as the Argentine action is known, has become part of the public conversation in Spain. The million-plus Argentines who have since immigrated to Spain have provided ample and gory stories of desperate legal battles and wiped-out savings.
Eduardo Pérez, a Spaniard who was working in Argentina during that period, remembers the events all too well. He said he lost four-fifths of the money he had kept in an Argentine savings account, though he declined to say how much money was involved.
“Some of my friends lost everything,” Mr. Pérez said. “So yes, everyone in Spain knows about the corralito.”
Recently, Mr. Pérez, who lives in the northern city of Bilbao, removed about a third of his euros from his Spanish savings account and sent them to Singapore, converting them to Singapore dollars.
Having lost his job at a multinational company a few months ago, Mr. Pérez, 48, is trying to make ends meet by focusing on his travel Web site and blog, which aggregate Spanish-language travel videos.
But as the job outlook worsens, he is contemplating following in the path of his savings and starting a new life in Singapore with his wife.
“Two years ago, we never would have thought of this, but now I have real fears that there will be a breakup with the euro,” he said. “And when you keep hearing people saying, ‘Don’t worry, it’s not going to happen’ — well, that is when you have to start worrying.”
Analysts said that the record-high outflow from Spain in July was probably spurred in part by July’s being a taxpaying month for many corporations, which prompted them to withdraw cash from deposit accounts.
Also playing a role were investment funds that moved cash reserves to foreign banks in light of the credit downgrades at Spanish banks.
Still, as the examples of Mr. Vildosola and Mr. Pérez show, individual deposit flight is becoming more pronounced.
Some people are willing to fly to London for the day just to open an account there, as most banks in the city require such transactions to be made in person.
Spanish bankers working for British financial institutions say they have been hit with a barrage of questions about how to open savings accounts in London.
“It seems as if everyone I know in Spain is getting on an easyJet to come to London and open a bank account,” said one such banker, who spoke on condition of anonymity, citing his company’s policy.
That is what Mr. Vildosola did before he took the more drastic step of moving his family to England.
“It’s sad,” he said. “But I just don’t think there is a future for me in Spain right now.”
(The New York Times. September 3, 2012)