December 31, 2012 at 10:43 am #57204
We talk about property but we all know that Spain’s problems go much deeper than a property boom and bust, which in a way was just symptomatic of the deeper malaise.
This presentation (in Spanish) by Jesús Fernández – Villaverde, a Spaniard who now teaches economics as a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, is the best summary I have read of the problems Spain has to face up to. Unfortunately it is only available in Spanish, but it’s essential reading for understanding the situation today.
Needless to say, the politicians are one of the biggest problems of all. Mind you, they say counties get the leaders they deserve…..
December 31, 2012 at 4:10 pm #114318
I’ve just dipped into this and can already say it is the best article I have read about Spain’s economic and political situation. Essential reading. Thanks.
December 31, 2012 at 4:52 pm #114319
I enjoyed reading this link but there is nothing new in it that has not been discussed on here over the years by forum members who know and love Spain.
The difficulty in fundamental political change is that so many are resistant. That is a natural human response as the lecturer points out but in Spain it runs much, much deeper. Very little real political reform has ever been done and the country is essentially still feudal. Spain is a conservative country it’s not radical. Even the young express little desire for political radicalism unlike sections of France, Germany for example.
I know we see the few demos on TV and sit in’s etc. but they don’t organise themselves into any cogent alternative political force which will last.
In place of landowners and the catholic church who used to run Spain there are now the two political parties who simply swap power every so often. The status quo is always preserved because it’s in all their own interests so to do and maintaining that grip on the system is unlikely ever to change. The last time they tried that resulted in a civil war.
Political reform means the weakening of power both for individuals and political parties. Vested interests see their hold over economic advantage slipping away so consequently they do all is necessary to prevent it.
Feudal Spain it really is because it’s unaccountable, hierarchical and lacks transparency other than the details they wish to be seen through the veneer they create. The media in Spain are fairly useless at exposure because in essence they are all a part of the same thing.
I enjoyed the comparison the brave lecturer made between a middle class suburb of similar size of Philadelphia and Madrid. The differences are profound. Imagine any Spanish local authority publishing it’s annual spending program’s on the internet for public scrutiny. They would need to have a section entitled ‘brown envelope payments’. 🙂
Even this economic crisis will not fundamentally change Spain. In about 10 years time it will all return to business as usual.
Memories are short anyway and if folks start to find work and life gets brighter they will all say “who cares”.
December 31, 2012 at 5:25 pm #114320
I agree that blaming Spain’s current problems on only the property and banking failures does not explain the full picture, it has always just been an easy way to apportion blame, and a lazy one.
You can’t ignore the relatively recent civil war and a long dictatorship, as the professor pointed out, under Franco Spain was a closed country and not open to international business.
When democracy was finally and recently introduced, too much freedom was given to the autonomous regions and the country was never ‘joined’ up properly. The old factions are still in place and they hate each other.
Law enforcement is inefficient with three separate police forces, and the funcionarios in Malaga, Valencia and Madrid, and everywhere else, are not singing from the same hymn sheet, their hymn sheets come from their own regional governments and have different words on them.
The bigger regions even have their own language and Franco’s efforts to unite the country with Castellano never worked, not even under his iron rule.
And as the professor concluded, the internet generation and membership of the EU, maybe that should be in reverse order, is just about the only way forward.
December 31, 2012 at 5:49 pm #114321
“there is nothing new in it that has not been discussed on here over the years by forum members who know and love Spain.”
I concur. The question arises, do the Spaniards loved their Country as much as we do ???? Are they willing to take the current situation which I take as a golden opportunity to turn things around for the foreseeable future ??? They can in doing so blame the EU. The two political parties can come through with relatively small price to pay for the suffering/damage to their voters base. .
January 4, 2013 at 10:33 am #114400
Eventually got around to reading this, great article, I expect he will be sent packing back to the US in short order by the political elites with vested interests. Many of the Spanish already know what he is saying but still feel powerless, a crisis of biblical proportions is needed for any real change to happen.
Yes I’m afraid I have to agree with you. It’s one of the reasons the euro (and the EU federation that it is leading Spain into) might still be of some benefit to Spain. While the UK would view the loss of power and sovereignty to an unaccountable elite in Brussels with horror, the Spanish might still see it as an improvement on the current state of affairs.
January 13, 2013 at 11:01 am #114593
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