Column | Better fundamentals, the worse environment

This year the Spanish economy will grow by less than it has done since the beginning of the recovery from the last crisis, but will continue to do so at a pace

Column | Better fundamentals, the worse environment

This year the Spanish economy will grow by less than it has done since the beginning of the recovery from the last crisis, but will continue to do so at a pace faster than the average for the eurozone. This will keep one more year, the worst growth records of all advanced economies: hardly exceed 1%, with very low rates of inflation will continue to justify the maintenance of a monetary policy exceptionally loose during, at least, throughout the year.

it Is precisely the membership in the monetary area, which explains in large measure the lights and the shadows of the macroeconomic development of our country. Without the historic decline in interest rates and massive purchases of public and private bonds determined by the ECB, the recovery in Spanish would not have been so explicit because it would not have been so intense financial restructuring of enterprises and of households, highly indebted, on the eve of the crisis. Would not have been as bearable increase in the indebtedness of the public Administrations during the crisis. Let us remember that in front of those types of interest in the environment of the 7% that investors demanded to the Spanish Treasury until July 2012 to lend to 10 years, are now competing for it to 0.5%. The difference with the rate corresponding to the German bond, the joyful risk premium, is also at historically low levels. International investors do not consider risk differentials in our country, despite the fact that the stock of public debt is far superior to what we had then. Neither have perceived the multinational companies, which channel those flows of foreign direct investment, that have not stopped growing in recent years. All this, by the way, in a period of prolonged temporary policy.

The fundamental reasons of the good behaviour of the Spanish economy are, in my opinion, two. The first and most binding the protective umbrella of the ECB, the community institution that has done more than to prevent evils worse in the monetary union and, since then, by breaking the loop "evil" that constituted the economic recession, the banking crisis and the sovereign debt. Without the decisions of the ECB, Spain would not have escaped so easily from this vicious circle or I would have done with much higher costs to those who suffered.

The second reason is the improvement of the quality of the entrepreneurial function in the last decade. The verification of this you do not have a statistical record simple, but is manifest in various important aspects. The most immediate is the increase of the propensity to export, not only the number of companies that export on a regular basis, but diversify what they sell to the outside and from their destinations. As a result, although not only, the imbalance in the balance of payments on current account has ceased to be a source of concern. The second manifestation is also linked to the reduction of the external financing needs and the decisions of the ECB is the improvement of the financial structure of our companies, especially small and medium sized, more dependent on bank financing. The financial costs absorb today a smaller proportion of the surplus of the companies not only by the decrease in the debt, but by the fall of interest rates. Both help to explain also the lower weight of the bad debts in the banking assets.

Fundamentals best are also those that are deducted from the productive structure of our economy, with a lesser role in the sector of residential construction and real estate promotion that on the eve of the last two crises. Finally, although not less important, but also more difficult to capture statistically, it is the relay gradual transition that is taking place in the direction of medium-sized and small businesses by professional, better prepared, with a more international vocation and a greater vision to medium-term. Some of these circumstances has been recorded indirectly in these international rankings such as the Doing Business, World Bank, or the World Competitiveness Report, World Economic Forum, where the positions of the Spanish economy have improved in the last year.

The combination of these aspects —the complicity of the ECB, improvement of the species business, and curb the deterioration of the quality of institutions favourable to the birth and development of the business— has encouraged the provision of better fundamentals before the global downturn current. Are best these in any way mean they are necessary. The external liabilities accumulated by our economy are still elevated and by themselves represent such a vulnerability to episodes of financial instability international.

The exhibition also exists in the real economy. And this is the shadow key that is generated by the same community of neighbors to which we belong, the eurozone, from where comes the majority of our revenue through exports. The whole of the currency area has suffered the vicissitudes of the trade war as if it were one of the contenders to direct. It has done so because the whole of the eurozone is a block that is very open to the outside, and some of their productions of more exportable, the car without going any further, have suffered such intimidation continued from that changed the american presidency. The slowdown in the majority of institutions anticipate for the group of advanced economies, the eurozone is the most remarkable. The latest forecasts disseminated, the semi-annual from the World Bank, allocated a growth to the eurozone in this year of 1.0%, against 1.1% in the past, being manufacturing the main cause of the contraction. The largest economy of the region is also the least grows. The collapse of exports and its industrial production has been on the verge of putting the German economy statistically in recession during the second half of last year. The lower growth of China, the main customer of Germany, and the consequences of the exit of the Uk from the EU completed the tepidity of the recovery.

All this is not conducive to economic growth and employment enough in our country to reconcile the commitments with the EU of fiscal consolidation and strengthened public investments in knowledge, necessary for productivity to improve, and with it the quality and sustainability of growth in the future. It remains for us but to trust in the adoption of investment decisions for a pan-european by the community institutions.

The relay for the fiscal policy of the exhausted monetary policy is one of the conditions necessary for the eurozone to stop flirting with the “secular stagnation” and with the consequent threats to the own viability of the union. To stimulate investment, contribute to the mobilisation of the excess of accumulated savings for families, businesses and some Governments, who already has two preferred destinations in the two transitions defined by the new EC, the energy and the digital. Failure to extend this political will to be put to work to the institutions, such as the European Investment Bank, without going any further. If Europe reacts, and the new Spanish Government orders its priorities of economic policy, the perception of citizens can remain that the eurozone membership is cost-effective.

@ontiverosemilio. His latest book: ‘Excesses. Threats to global prosperity’ (Planet).

Updated Date: 19 January 2020, 06:00

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