sábado, marzo 08, 2008

Spain's economy: what's coming up

I read in The Economist that its poll of experts has downgraded the forecast for economic growth in Spain to 2.4% in 2008, and 2.1% in 2009 (and some people forecast as low as 1.8% for this year and 0.9% for the next!!). Of course, the news have been largely ignored by all politicians in the campaign (Spain is having an election tomorrow, March 9th). Now this raises a few questions for me:

- Maybe the superiority of the anglo-saxon culture lies on how people rely/depend on hard data for everything they endeavor (politics, business, maybe even arts and culture). In Spain, politicians are known for spinning the data in their favor, if not to completely manipulate the sources of good data. And the press, even though technically "free", is very partial and contributes to this (some articles on the supposedly "quality press", when talking about both leaders of the main political parties, resemble the depiction of the "Great Leader" in "1984"). In both the UK and the USA, my impression is that people rely much more on impartial data when they take decisions.

Of course, a corollary of that thought is: how could I help change that?? I've always been very interested in education, and I think that's the only way that a country (society, economy, culture...) is able to advance. And by improving education I don't mean just throwing money at it, as the Spanish government has been doing lately.

- the second, and more critical, thought, goes to employment. If the Spanish economy is not able to create jobs at the same pace as people join the workforce while growing at 3.2% (1st quarter of 2008, with a net job destruction of 120,000 jobs), what will happen to the economy when it starts growing at 2%?? It is going to affect me and my friends, but especially it will harm the usual suspects: people in low paying, not very qualified jobs.

In conclusion, the perspectives are quite grim for the Spanish economy. Whoever the winner is in tomorrow's election, he shoul start working on minimizing the damage and getting the economy on the growth path as soon as possible. And if they use some real figures and hard data, that task will be much easier.

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