Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A biased solution for the Spanish crisis

Everybody talks about it but nobody seems to find it: I would like to share the (my) solution for the big, enormous, financial crisis we are suffering in Spain nowadays, and I am going to share it with you, basically because the solution maybe affects to you too.

After this introduction, allow me to highlight some aspects that none of the Spanish politicians are taking into account and could drive us to change our downwards trend. Whether you agree or not, that's a different story!

-Go where the job is: Spaniards tend to remain stable within the "comfort zone" but the world around has been moving fast while we were immerse in our inner demand, and focusing our investments in the Real Estate sector and hardly looking overseas (why doing it if things here are off the hook?) we became the "new rich" of Europe and nobody worried about the future (although we could have learn from previous bubbles with horrendous effects like Japan in the 90's)

20% of the existing jobs in 2007 don't exist anymore, hence the job seek is no longer useful for many people: they won't find a job because that job is simply not there anymore. Taking this into account, we have to look back in time and remember we were once a emigrant country: Switzerland, Germany, France...still have thousands of spanish families who went there to have a better future. Things have changed, the world has changed, you have to change too, Spain has to change:

There are many places where lots of opportunities are now available, are we also going to miss those opportunities? Middle East, BRIC countries, Europe (above the Pyrenees)...what make us refrain from trying whereas other much richer and developed countries are freely switching jobs, countries, continents...? This leads me to my second part of the "prescription" against the crisis:

Learn English, speak English, think English: Spain remains as one of the few countries where movies and series are not set in the original language and are dubbed into Spanish, eliminating one of the few chances that the static Spanish population has to listen something in a foreign language. But despite the 400 millions of hispanohablantes in the world, the world speaks English, from Dallas to Mumbai, from Manila to Finland, but we seem not to care about and some people still brag about not being able to say a single word in English...

Beyond our low level in English language is the fact that, in general, foreign languages terrorize Spaniards, and there's some background factor that must explain this (isolation during our dictatorship, Spanish pride, the "no other country like Spain to live" effect...?).
I want to believe that something is changing in this regard (mandatory English from primary school, internet, easiness to fly...) but reading things like this also discourage me...

But i was trying to "solve" the crisis: let's imagine a scenario where a considerable amount of people decide to try a better future abroad: our population will decrease, and the demand will adjust so we go back to levels of 10% (reasonable for Spain although still high for the rest of the EU).

Export Export, and then Export: Our industrial net will is badly damaged (no local demand, paralysis in the construction...) what to do? Let's focus on the exports, no more dependence on local demand or usual importers of our products. Let's encourage with subsidies to the exports our products to be sold abroad. We must create bonds with emergent economies to become their suppliers for quality products and "know how" and let's specially do it with the medium and small companies, those who are struggling to survive, Ribera de Duero's wines can compete with Bordeaux ones, Cava with Champaign, Cabrales cheese with Rochefort, construction materials...Let's not just believe that Spanish products are good, let's test it in new markets where the stereotypes of Spain are still those that you're thinking about. Working in the Middle East i could experience myself how Spain is still perceived as a friendly country but when it's time to talk about business we just don't count.

Think globally, act locally...or just think and act! I strongly disagree with the resignation of many Spaniards since the crisis started. it's socially accepted to quit searching and surrender to the eternal complain: there will be better times! It must be cultural, but at some point, rather than seeing riots in the street people just accepted it and pray for the crisis to pass...but, how to invert the tendency and send the message that times of crisis are good to try things that otherwise we would have never tried? Entrepreneurial ideas, a lush cultural and creative scenario, more NGO's volunteering...I may not be entitled to judge this, but my perception of the streets is resignation rather than persistence.

I know that the counterargument for many is easy: my view is rather pessimistic and doesn't invite to think in a better scenario in the short run...

But yes, there are also things that for a while leaves me the impression that things can change: A few weeks ago I spend the night in a beautiful hotel in Peratallada, the Hostal Blau, a beautiful medieval village in Gerona (Cataluña, Spain). There we had the chance to chat with the owner, Azucena, an under-30 madrilenian entrepreneur who decided one day to stay in this wonderful village and has recently undertaken the management of the hotel . She is now struggling to save the business because the number of visitors has decreased brutally due to the crisis...She is constantly thinking of new ideas (wine and food tasting, seminars, courses...) to regain the clientele she used to credit or help whatsoever has been given to her to any of the numerous ideas she had in order to boost the business. If one day Azucena has to close down as she suspects, the loss will be not just one hotel less, but the loss of the hope of another young entrepreneur who, on the hard work basis, is actively doing something to get out of the hole. And that loss is not quantifiable in numbers and it doesn't show up in any indicator...

Today's song is We are kids, by Lacrosse. I went to their concert last Saturday, it was good, except for the audience constantly talking (is Spanish, of course)


  1. Gonzalo, just a quick point: You know that Americans and Brits can't learn second languages either, right?

  2. Dear Joe, you're totally right, just a difference between Brits or Americans versus Spaniards: you can go everywhere and do business in English, but not in shame on us!

  3. Gonzalo great post..keep up the good work!

    English speakers need to learn languages but for other reasons (out of politeness when doing business in foreign countries but not out of necessity!)

  4. Thank you for your comment, Diarmuid,

    I agree with you, the competitive advantage of having English as mother language shouldn't be used in detriment of learning other languages that enrich one's resources to communicate, for any reason whatsoever.


  5. You know theres no evidence that watch tv in english is linked to better knowledge of the language, right?

  6. Yeah, maybe it's not the best way to learn properly a language and it's grammar...but no one can deny that getting used to listen series, movies, documentaries in English makes you improve the comprehension hence your communication skills in a different language (than Spanish in this case) if you at least have some basic knowledge of the language, of course, i can watch hundreds of Check movies at end up not knowing anything at all!

    Besides, in Spain you can listen to many dubbing voices of famous actors also putting their voices for radio commercials of all´s not cool to listen to Robert de Niro's Spanish dubbed voice also promoting a new liquor or fragance!


  7. 7. Mantener al público en la ignorancia y la mediocridad
    Hacer que el público sea incapaz de comprender las tecnologías y los métodos utilizados para su control y su esclavitud. “La calidad de la educación dada a las clases sociales inferiores debe ser la más pobre y mediocre posible, de forma que la distancia de la ignorancia que planea entre las clases inferiores y las clases sociales superiores sea y permanezca imposibles de alcanzar para las clases inferiores (ver ‘Armas silenciosas para guerras tranquilas)”. De este modo podremos hacer más business, todo el mundo querrá consumir cualquier cosa que queramos vender y encima trabajarán a cambio de menos porque tendrán menos aspiraciones... Lo importante es acabar con la "financial crisis", por el bien de todos.

    8. Estimular al público a ser complaciente con la mediocridad
    Promover al público a creer que es moda el hecho de ser estúpido, vulgar e inculto…

    9. Reforzar la autoculpabilidad
    Hacer creer al individuo que es solamente él el culpable por su propia desgracia, por causa de la insuficiencia de su inteligencia, de sus capacidades, o de sus esfuerzos. Así, en lugar de rebelarse contra el sistema económico, el individuo se autodesvalida y se culpa, lo que genera un estado depresivo, uno de cuyos efectos es la inhibición de su acción. Y, sin acción, no hay revolución!

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