Una temporada en el infierno. WP: Decadencia y caída de Europa
El comentario no del todo irónico de Wolfgang Munchau, publicado en Financial Times, sugiriendo que “España tiene buenas razones para abandonar el euro“, ha suscitado muchos comentarios públicos y privados.
Desde Madrid, Paul Isbell, del Real Instituto Elcano, responde con una carta muy matizada, subrayando, al mismo tiempo, los límites de la “burbuja” inmobiliaria española y sus riesgos de fondo.
Estos son algunos de sus argumentos:
—-A corto plazo, el destino económico de España está ligado al de Alemania, a través de los tipos de interés. Si Alemania y el Banco central europeo subiesen los tipos, ¿qué ocurriría con la “burbuja” inmobiliaria española?
—-España sufre de falta de productividad y competitividad.
—-Sin la zona euro, España sería víctima de las tormentas suramericanas. Madrid será la última capital europea en abandonar la bandera del euro.
Spain unlikely even to contemplate leaving the euro
By Paul Isbell
Published: February 21 2006 02:00 | Last updated: February 21 2006 02:00
Sir, I agree with Wolfgang Munchau that it is unlikely that Italy would ever abandon the euro (“Spain has reason to quit euro”, February 20). To do so would likely provoke the most severe financial crisis that Italy has experienced since the interwar period. Mr Munchau’s reflections on Spain, however, deserve some comment.
It is true that Spain has accumulated intense disequilibria during the past decade, as the pattern of Spanish growth has become increasingly Anglo-Saxon, powered by strong consumer demand and underpinned by low interest rates, rising private debt and skyrocketing housing prices. Ironically, as Mr Munchau points out, Spain’s short-term economic fate is linked inversely to Germany’s: the longer Germany stagnates and the more slowly interest rates rise, the better chance Spain has of extending its bubble economy. But should Germany rise – and European Central Bank rates along with it – Spain will be increasingly vulnerable.
Spain’s growth model suffers from one big difference with the US: a lack of productivity growth. This is even more important than nominal wage growth (which in fact has been moderate in Spain) in undermining Spanish competitiveness and represents the single biggest long-term threat to an otherwise successful Spanish economic transition. It is also the most difficult kind of economic weakness to remedy.
True, Spain lacks the capacity to regain competitiveness through currency devaluation. However, this is not the great unbearable vulnerability that Mr Munchau suggests but rather Spain’s mighty shield against contagion from Latin America, where Spain is highly exposed. While Spain’s national debt in absolute and relative terms is smaller than that of Italy’s, its exposure to the “Latam effect” is much higher. Had Spain not been a member of the Economic and Monetary Union during the Argentine crisis and the near-default in Brazil, it would have long ago suffered from devaluation, stock market weakness, a decline in the housing market and, likely, a recession. In that scenario, the Spanish Socialist Workers’ party victory in 2004 would not have come as a surprise.
But Spain will be the last man holding the euro flag. While the country faces a correction sooner or later, such an adjustment – and all future ones – would certainly be much more severe should Spain ever even contemplate the possibility of exiting the euro.
Senior Analyst for International Economy,
Elcano Royal Institute for International and Strategic Studies,
E-28006 Madrid, Spain