14 de enero de 2008

"Financial Times Abofetea a Zapatero... otra vez"

En el mismo día en que el gran Zp afirma en El Mundo que “plantea a los españoles el objetivo de superar a Francia en renta per cápita”, Financial Times, de nuevo le pega otra bofetada al talantoso dirigente, diciéndole que debería seguir el ejemplo de gestión francesa que impulsa Sarkozy. Pero al fin y al cabo ¿Qué sabrá Financial Times de economía en comparación con este prodigio que en solo “dos tardes” fue capaz de adquirir los conocimientos necesarios para dirigir la octava potencia económica del mundo?

José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Spain’s prime minister, boasts that his country is wealthier than Italy. Overtaking France, he declares, is now a national goal. In the middle of a bitter election campaign, patriotic triumphalism is understandable. But Mr Zapatero could come to regret remarks that also appear hubristic. After three transforming decades, in which the Spanish economy has become a star European performer, it may be about to suffer the consequences of a credit-fuelled spending and property boom.

Only last September, the economic outlook was different. The Socialist government had reason to be satisfied. Growth was cooling and house price inflation slowing. This was a necessary antidote to years of consumer-led exuberance and construction spending, not helped by very low real eurozone interest rates. Third-quarter annual output growth of 3.8 per cent was still well above the long-term average.

Then came the global credit squeeze. With a current account deficit third only to the US in nominal terms and high levels of household debt, it is hard to see how Spain can avoid a serious correction. Inflation in December spiked to its highest in over a decade, house prices are falling and unemployment is rising: a potent cocktail of economic risks.

It is no surprise, then, that political campaigning for the March elections has turned poisonous. In his defence, Mr Zapatero can point to the modest fiscal surplus his administration has run. This creates scope for limited tax cuts. But his record is far from convincing. Spain has been content to enjoy the benefits of cheap credit and strong European demand for its goods and services. Unlike France, it has not embarked on the structural reforms needed for longer lasting prosperity.

Mr Zapatero pretends these are not needed. But, if re-elected, he should rethink. Generous tax cuts should be avoided in order to maintain a mildly restrictive fiscal stance. Measures to foster competitiveness are essential. These should include dismantling barriers to competition in retailing, transport and energy. He should ditch a preference for national champions.

Persistent weakness in productivity growth must be addressed too. Recent steps to expand Spain’s small technology base, promote entrepreneurship and bolster its ossified education system are positive. But universities need more independence. Allowing companies to opt out of collective wage deals would make the labour market more flexible. This is far from a comprehensive manifesto. But it is the least Spain must do if it is to remain one of Europe’s pacesetters.

2 comentarios:

El Cerrajero dijo...

Cualquiera, con dos dedos de frente, no debe tener el menor problema en darle un 'garrotazo' a Rodríguez el Traidor.

J. F. Sebastian dijo...

Temo que el F. T. no sea un diario leído asiduamente por los españoles, entre los cuales me cuento. ¿No dices nada del Globo de Bardem?

Ideas Libérrimas - 2008 -