The Spanish Roubinis

There is a myriad of Roubinis in Spain. There are many pronosticators in a country of procrastinators that forecast a lost decade. There are many pronosticators in a country of procrastinatos that anticipate tougher times than what the average citizen in this beautiful country could imagine.

I have met the myriad of Roubinis in Spain. Contrary to NYU's Professor and finance guru Nouriel Roubini, the Spanish Roubinis are not a minority, are not a bunch of outliers, are not a plethora of contrarians. Premier José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero is a contrarian. Finance Minister Elena Salgado is a contrarian. But most likely this Club of Denial, abandoned on time by former economic advisors Jordi Sevilla and Pedro Solbes, is heading off the wrong direction.

Es la economía, maquis! It is the economy, stupid! Our economic management is extremely constrained by the action of a Labour Minister that is a High School graduate, two trade union leaders that barely understand the nature of the crisis and myopically defend the interest of their fellow comrades that comfortably sit on a pile of cash that enters their checking accounts every month thanks to the protection granted by the inflexible labour market, and a leader of the entrepreneurs whose business has recently gone bankrupt. This is the crude reality of our economic management.

My younger brothers and sister now in their late teens and early twenties, along with the millions of Spanish youngsters will suffer from our inability to understand the urgency of the time we are living. We have lived the boom years. We have run lifestyles we could not afford. We have remained blinded while the economy deteriorated. We have refused to accept that the real estate bubble would one day explode.

A chief economist of a Spanish multinational explained to me last January that life was a compromise between freedom and equality, only the optimal amount of each for a given time and environment would yield a positive outcome. Spain has been shifting towards too much equality and less freedom in the last 30 years since Adolfo Suárez became a man of stature and conducted an exemplary Transition from dictatorship to democracy. Spaniards cannot choose from a pool of different healthcare providers, they are constrained to the regional healthcare provider where they live. Spaniards have a very limited range of quality universities where they can send their sons and daughters. Healthcare and education should remain under the public umbrella, contrary to Region of Madrid's President Esperanza Aguirre's approach. But incentives and concurrence should be introduced to increase productivity among public employees and improve the quality of the delivery of national public goods poorly run by a deteriorating Administration, whether it is the postal service, the public hospitals, the primary or secondary schools or the universities.

Spain stinks. The country stinks because of an abundance of endogamy at the university and the political party level. The country stinks because of an excess of politizacion in public life where our mediocre politicians can only shout nonsense statements to each other using our dramatic history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to hurt each other. The country stinks because there is no independence in our regulators and a lack of pragmatic and realistic sense in the direction proposed by our political leaders. The country stinks because of Savings Banks that are run by politicians without little financial education and minor credit risk management skills.

A Director General of the Public Administration explained to me in January the difference between what is possible and what is feasible. Everything is possible, contrary to what is feasible, which is limited by the color of our ruling elites.

It is time to leave partisanship behind during a ten-year period that could contribute to leaving the Lost Decade behind. Many in Spain think that Spaniards do not have the ability to move ahead, leaving the Times of Crispación and Mediocracy behind. Many think Spaniards continue to be lazy individuals that prefer to live the beautiful life of sun and tapas, informal economy and subsidies. I do not belong in the group of non-dreamers that refuse to accept we have to move forward, that do not understand a language that is not biased by the intrusion of our political elites, who contaminate the daily conversation of average Spaniards. I am not an Espanoli. I am a Soñador. I say Adelante Soñadores because I have found men and women of stature that will contribute to avoiding calamity and catastrophe of a disastrous economic mismanagement led by Premier Zapatero's Administration and the worst Opposition Leader Spain has seen in thirty years of democracy who has lost two consecutive elections and still holds on to power. This is the story of a country that lost its perspective and ambition. This is the story of a country where the mediocre continue to hold on to power. This is the story of a country that is afraid and has forgotten that we can dream one more time, as our fathers and mothers dreamt in the 1960s and 1970s.

I praise you Adolfo Suárez and Felipe González. I embrace your vision that moved Spain forward in the democratic direction and the European construction. We became democratic. We discovered freedom. We became European. Where are you great men and women of our contemporary time? You remain afraid while others continue to hold on your spots in public life.

Spain lost Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines in the 1898 American-Spanish War. The event is called Desastre in Spanish contemporary history. Spain may live another Desastre in 2012 if Spaniards do not react on time and choose a mediocre group of endogamic politicians to lead a country on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

The Spanish Roubinis have anticipated the economic fiasco that lies ahead, the lost decade that will keep unemployment rates above the 15% mark for years. It is time to finally agree on a set of structural reforms in the areas of healthcare, education, justice, foreign policy, European construction, labor market, the three-tier public administration, energy, small and medium enterprises and beyond. It is time to look back and learn from the great men of our Transition who are greatly missed.

I anticipate changing times. I look at the future from the shoulders of Spanish Giants and see a brighter decade, a Década Prodigiosa that will change Spain for good to start changing the world.

It is time. It is our time. Adelante Soñadores.

Find more about Jaime Pozuelo-Monfort at

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