We in the US need to remain aware of what is going on with global economics. Spanish demographics issue:
[Edward Hugh:] If paying around 5% on your 10 year bonds is considered to be an acceptable cost for financing your country’s debt – Germany, for example is paying around 1.7% – then there is no need to apply to the EU and trigger ECB bond buying via the Outright Monetary Transactions program. If, on the other hand, you think the country could well benefit from lower funding costs, and the kind of pressure for reform which would be exerted from the outside through a Memorandum of Understanding, then clearly a bailout is needed.
Personally I take the latter view, since personally I think the country still has a long way to go in terms of reforms and since it is clear that introducing more measures that bite would be massively unpopular (and especially in the context of all the recent corruption scandals), the shelter provided by a troika driven program would make implementing them a lot easier.
I want to propose a definition – a country suffering from deteriorating demographics (rapid population ageing) and a private debt overhang is sufficiently internationally competitive when its exports grow quickly enough to fuel headline GDP growth sufficient to generate new employment on a sustainable basis.
This is patently not Spain’s case, and it won’t be in the coming years, so more needs to be done.
Perhaps the worst of all assumptions that policymakers seem to be making is the one that “economies always recover”, an assumption which seems to be based on some sort of quasi-religious version of the “hidden hand” theory. Indeed, all that is necessary to make this a less than universal generalization is one counter example, and unfortunately the real world is populated by several of them. Argentina in the 20th century would be one, the country started out among the richest globally, and look how it ended the century. Twentieth century Japan would be another, and once you start to look you can surely find more (try Ukraine, or Hungary). So recovery isn’t automatic, and something has to happen for recovery to occur. That something isn’t present in Spain at the moment, and indeed the danger is that as conditions deteriorate the contraction becomes self-perpetuating.
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