In the Spain of 2019

The year begins, as it should, with sales and bargains which excite the enthusiasm of the consumer and and warm the cockles of the producers. In contrast to the teaching about about poverty and salvation, in the Greek polis “they refuted the ancestral cliché that leisure and business are opposites, like dignity and turpitude” (“The Enemies of Trade” Antonio Escohotado). Trade is not evil, it is prosperity and the key driver of economic and social development. But the growth in production not only serves to fill the spaces left on the shelves in shops and supermarkets, but also, as Adam Smith said, to promote health and education, principal tools of equality of opportunity.

The prophets of doom, but also more meticulous experts, are not optimistic about GDP growth in 2019. Signals: the US President and his budget deficit policy – less taxes for companies and the rich – together with his extravagances over tariff barriers to merchandise and physical barriers to people. A devilish message from the country of the free; a bad example for European nationalism and populism. He has forgotten the devastating European civil wars and the benefits of the European Union: free exchange of merchandise, people and capital. Who would have dared to suggest, when Spain demanded a Cohesion Fund to palliate the effects of competition with its European partner that we would have a continuous trade surplus with these more advanced partners? Barriers have not been needed to prosper but rather freedom and a single currency which has buried the uncertainties of our much loved peseta.

Catalonia is an emotional nuisance for the rest of Spain, but close and real for the Spanish Catalans or just Catalans who inhabit a territory from which capital has fled and in which the authorities have forgotten public management. Those Catalans who love to distort history to their ends forget that he first Bourbon, Felipe V, converted a rough watercourse into a city street: the Rambla of Catalunya.

Perhaps it is an afront to common sense and the country´s welfare that the constitutionalist parties which could form a coalition in Catalonia should be manipulated by messages of gender violence and reject negotiations, for being tiring and boring, with the current leaders of the Catalan government. Negotiate and negotiate and negotiate before returning to direct rule from Madrid. The leaders of the Catalan government have shown themselves unable to govern for the common good of their citizens. The Sánchez government with its parliamentary minority has administered, but without exposing itself to dangerous risks difficult. It has pushed its budget, with its own proposals, knowing it will not be approved. But as Groucho Marx said “here is another one”. The increase in the minimum wage has already shown their socialist colours. We need to continue to take care of the economy. It is not that easy, but not that hard either.

About the Author

Luis Alcaide
Luis Alcaide works as an economist for the Spanish government since 1961. He has been state adviser in the European Union and Bank of Spain director of communications. Alcaide published editorial articles in Spain's leading newspaper El País between 1977 and 1983, and in Diario 16 between 1985 and 1988. He regularly contributes to Economía Exterior and Política Exterior. He's founder member of Grupo Consejeros.