After two years, Mariano Rajoy finally got to visit the West Wing, and timing couldn’t be better: last Friday, JPMorgan published an economic note called “Spain is Back”, praising reforms and forecasting a 1pc growth for 2014. Despite huge challenges like unemployment, the financial institution believes this year Spain will get back on track.
Now Mr Rajoy expects to get the same credit from the first world economy’s leader as well as the IMF. With President Obama he discussed the reforms taken -many of them highly controversial at home-, arguing they were all “absolutely” necessary to bring jobs next year. Currently the jobless rate is over 25%, whereas the EU average is of 12%.
With a brief mention to the NSA scandal, the nuclear agreement with Iran, Latin America, Spain’s geostrategical position in the North of Africa and Catalonia’s pro independence movement, both leaders centered their talk around the economy.
“Nobody doubts that the euro is a fact, nobody is talking about bailouts today. Markets and the premium risk have calmed down and some EU countries are starting to experience some growth. The horizon seems more clear to fight unemployment,” Mr Rajoy said.
Both leaders also discussed the implications of the Trans-Pacific Partnership between the EU and Washington, Obama’s big trade deal. Although deplored in some European countries, Madrid has shown its interest of signing since it will presumably bring some jobs.
Later in the day, the Spanish PM met IMF’s chief Christine Lagarde, “sharing views on the challenge of ensuring that the ongoing recovery leads to strong growth and job creation, building on the achievements attained so far,” as the IMF spokesperson stated.
For Mr Rajoy it is essential to take the plane back to Madrid having closed the “Spain in pain” chapter. To make clear that the times when U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner expressed his fear about Spain are over. And yet he did not grant any interview to the U.S. media, thus avoiding to deal perhaps with any sensitive questions, as happened with Bloomberg when he visited New York last September. Back then Mr Rajoy was asked about the corruption claims his party was facing in the so-called Bárcenas case. According to the American media, the Spanish PM team tried to censorship that part of the interview.