Spain implemented a host of structural reforms following the Global Crisis. But questions remain about whether the current economic condition is due to the reforms or to ‘automatic’ adjustment in public and private sectors. This column sheds light on these questions by examining changes in a set of economic indicators following the introduction of the reforms. Five stylised facts are presented that suggest limitations of the reforms. Much of the current climate appears to reflect inherent limitations of the Spanish economy.
Ramon Xifré, 29 August 2016
Manuel García Santana, Josep Pijoan-Mas, Enrique Moral-Benito, Roberto Ramos, 23 May 2016
Spain enjoyed substantial growth in the decade prior to the Global Crisis, despite declining aggregate productivity. Recent research blames the poor productivity on different forms of a ‘financial resource curse’. This column argues that resource misallocation was particularly severe due to corruption and crony capitalism. This suggests future growth will require serious political reforms.
Ioana Marinescu, Jose Ignacio García Pérez, Judit Vall Castello, 07 April 2016
Short-term contracts are viewed as a way of stimulating youth employment. This column presents evidence that this is the case in Spain, but that such contracts are also detrimental to job stability and lifetime earnings. The negative effects get stronger the longer workers are exposed to fixed-term contracts.
Wilhelm Kohler, Marcel Smolka, 20 February 2015
The share of international trade within firm boundaries varies greatly across countries.
This column presents new evidence on how the productivity of a firm affects the choice between vertical integration and outsourcing, as well as between foreign and domestic sourcing. The productivity effects found in Spanish firm-level data suggest that contractual imperfections distort the sourcing of inputs in the global economy, and that firm boundaries emerge in response to mitigate this distortion.
Paul De Grauwe, 07 July 2014
There has been a stark contrast between the experiences of Spain and the UK since the Global Crisis. This column argues that although the ECB’s Outright Monetary Transactions policy has been instrumental in reducing Spanish government bond yields, it has not made the Spanish fiscal position sustainable. Although the UK has implemented less austerity than Spain since the start of the crisis, a large currency depreciation has helped to reduce its debt-to-GDP ratio
Samuel Bentolila, Marcel Jansen, 01 February 2014
The evidence about the effect of declined lending during the Great Recession on the employment is quite limited. This column presents new research on the problem focusing on the case of Spain. A large part of credit to non-financial firms before the crisis came from weak banks, which solvency was strongly eroded during the crisis. As a result, firms that relied heavily on loans from such weak banks displayed significantly higher employment reduction in comparison to similar, less exposed firms. The bulk of employment destruction was driven by firm closures, which carries higher economic costs than downsizing, and could potentially make the recession more protracted.
Rafael Doménech, Víctor Pérez-Díaz, 11 December 2013
Based on the report issued by a Committee of Experts, the Spanish Parliament will pass a new law that implements an innovative sustainability factor in the public pension system. This column argues that the proposal solves the problem of financial sustainability in the long run while opening a wider debate on the welfare system and growth under conditions of increased global competition.
Carlos Álvarez-Nogal, Christophe Chamley, 21 October 2013
The recent showdown over the US debt ceiling can be thought of as a game of chicken over the repayment of sovereign debt, with potentially severe consequences. This column describes an analogous historical episode in Spain, in which city delegates in the Cortes resisted tax increases, and Phillip II responded by suspending payments on a portion of the sovereign debt. By the time the cities caved to a doubling of their tax contribution two years later, the resulting bank failures and credit freeze had caused lasting economic damage.
Aerdt Houben, Jan Kakes, 30 July 2013
Financial cycles have increasingly diverged across members of the Eurozone. National macroprudential tools are thus key to managing financial imbalances and protecting Europe’s economic integration. This column discusses research suggesting that reasonable macroprudential policies by the GIIPS countries in the euro’s first decade would have helped avoid much pain in Italy, Portugal and Spain. Greece’s public debt problems were far too large and its banks could not have been shielded with macroprudential policies.
Manuel Illueca, Lars Norden, Gregory Udell, 26 June 2013
Economic liberalisation can go wrong when the objectives and corporate governance of the firms in the deregulated industry are not adequately taken into account. This column presents evidence on the deregulation of the Spanish savings banks, known as ‘cajas’, which led to a dramatic expansion of lending and branching, increase in risk taking, and the final implosion of the whole savings-bank sector in Spain in 2012.
Giovanni D'Alessio, Romina Gambacorta, Giuseppe Ilardi, 24 May 2013
The ECB’s recent survey on household finances and consumption threw up some unexpected results – counter-intuitively, the average German household has less wealth than the average Mediterranean household. In line with a recent VoxEU.org contribution from De Grauwe and Ji, this article analyses the principal differences in wealth and income between the main Eurozone countries.
Javier Andrés, Rafael Doménech, 05 April 2013
Fiscal adjustment and structural reform are key parts of Eurozone bailout packages (or key features of government policy that aims to avoid such bailouts). This column argues that patience is the most prized virtue of policymakers implementing fiscal adjustment and structural reform. Reducing unemployment and fiscal consolidation are mutually reinforcing, but they move at different speeds.
Thomas Grennes, Andris Strazds, 28 February 2013
Can European countries share their debts? This column argues that higher government indebtedness means larger household net financial assets. Thus, any pooling of European legacy debt would be considered unacceptable by countries with less government debt unless it also involved the pooling of households’ financial assets. Yet, this would be legally and technically insurmountable. The EU must face forced Ricardian equivalence: the countries with the largest legacy-debt burdens must reduce them by increasing the tax burden or, alternatively, reduce their budget expenditure.
Dirk Schoenmaker, Arjen Siegmann, 27 February 2013
So far, discussions around Europe’s prospective banking union have focused only on the supervision of banks. This column argues that policymakers must also think about the resolution of banks in distress. While national governments confine themselves to the domestic effects of a banking failure, a European Resolution Authority could incorporate domestic and cross-border effects. A cost-benefit analysis of a hypothetical resolution of the top 25 European banks shows that the UK, Spain, Sweden, and the Netherlands would be the main winners.
Miguel Cardoso, Mónica Correa-López, Rafael Doménech, 24 November 2012
How can we explain the ‘Spanish paradox’ – a modest market share loss since the launch of the euro alongside a real exchange rate appreciation? This column argues that the non-price determinants of competitiveness have been more important than export prices in explaining the change of world exports shares. Notably, Spanish firms’ strategic decision-making has helped shape Spain´s internationalisation and may, ultimately, be the crucial factor explaining the paradox.
Aoife Hanley, Joaquín Monreal-Pérez, 05 November 2012
How can Spanish firms innovate to overcome strong economic headwinds? This column presents empirical evidence to show that, in a time of economic crisis, Spanish firms would do well to orient themselves toward foreign markets. The authors propose that there could well be mutiple – and durable – benefits to both the firms and the Spanish economy.
Jacob Kirkegaard, 08 October 2012
Political pressures are rising again in Europe. This column argues that reactions in parliaments, central banks and on the street are well within the bounds of predictable reactions to hard times. These developments change nothing of significance in the calculus concerning the eventual success of the Eurozone crisis response.
Manuel Bagues, Natalia Zinovyeva, 16 September 2012
To reduce favouritism in university promotions, Spain recently introduced a centralised system with random assignment of evaluators. This column presents evidence from a unique data set showing that favouritism still matters. Prior connections between candidates and evaluators have a dramatic impact on promotion. The net result is that outcomes are more random and candidates with many connections and from large universities benefit the most.
Zsolt Darvas, 05 September 2012
The need to rebalance the debts of several Eurozone members is a major root of the current crisis. This column argues that a purely intra-euro rebalancing strategy has its limits and that a weaker euro would help. It urges the European Central Bank to adopt looser monetary policy, which is anyway justified in a highly recessionary environment.
William Cline, 30 August 2012
Interest rates on Italian and Spanish bonds are back up to their 2011 levels, raising alarm bells across Europe. But this column argues that the media’s hard-held belief that neither Italy nor Spain can withstand interest rates of 7% is wrong.