Time Is Time: The Problems In 2016 Will Still Be There In 2017

How 2019 could be a tranquil yearnew year 2019

I hate this endless temptation for bracketing time into what we call “years.” Time is time and, by definition, there are no interruptions. We don’t know what 2017 will bring, but a lot of it has already happened in 2016. Thinking it’s going to be very different is just deceiving ourselves. The problems which have beset us are still the same problems in 2017, whether it’s terrorism or open warfare or Spain’s ingovernability. What is certain is that it’s going to get worse. When things change, they don’t put themselves right, or at least not to everyone’s liking.

Let’s talk about one issue: Catalonia has said that in 2017 it will hold an irrevocable referendum to leave Spain. The most likely outcome is that this is just another disaster. Something will have changed, but we don’t know in favour of whom. Whatever happens – let’s suppose Catalonia gets Madrid to recognise its independence –  the real problems will have started and what has happened up to now will be just a joke.  Every event takes its own time, which doesn’t mean that it is independent from others. For example, I believe that without an economic crisis, we would not have had the problem of Catalonia. At least how it is formulated today. It’s not a coincidence that up until the crisis, Catalonia was a want to but can’t. And now with the crisis it has taken the step towards independence.  For that reason, I don’t think it’s possible “to make it fit”  by changing the Constitution. Nor that the other autonomous regions are not going to demand the same thing. Spain’s “autonomies” have had everything and the only thing left is to destroy the whole system. And it looks as if that is going to happen. There are no clear solutions for any problem. Politics is not a science.

The euro is another example. What’s going to happen about Greece, Brexit, the debts which are out of control, the economy which is not growing and the fact that Germany is the only country which is moving forward. (Note that Catalonia is not a problem which is independent from all this). The most likely thing is that they don’t do anything definite, they don’t call things by their name and the name of the euro doesn’t disappear. But just like the Latin Monetary Union in the XIX century, the name will continue to exist although some day de facto it will cease to exist. I don’t see any other other solution.

Then southern European countries could devalue but within certain limits, and we will keep going. Or any other alternative, because here we can’t rule out that everything won’t explode into a thousand pieces – as was about to happen in 2012. But if they manage to keep part of the structure with this change of name (remember: something has to change in order for nothing to change), they will.

And so on. The world continues to tick along and perfection doesn’t exist. One proposal which seems worthy of praise is that there is no war. Another is to eliminate hunger, and there is now enough technology to do this. Hunger is a scourge from the past. But those of us who don’t think straight, who have irrational objections to biotechnology, we let millions of children die every year.

One surprise factor is going to be Trump, a total surprise. I don’t know how this is all going to turn out. On the one hand, he is going to give a massive boost to his economy. On the other, he wants to destroy international trade, compartimentalise it. This is a clear risk: an increasingly multipolar and uncertain world. So 2017: please let there be no wars. There already are, but that they don’t get worse .

About the Author

Miguel Navascués
Miguel Navascués has worked as an economist at the Bank of Spain for 30 years, and focuses on international and monetary economics. He blogs in Spanish at: http://http://www.miguelnavascues.com/