Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Spanish Denial

Whenever people go into desperate, self-serving denial, we are often in for some good, mirthful, dry, wry humour. Yesterday it was the turn of Mr Cristobal Montoro, Spain’s Minister of Finance, a gentleman who – with his appearance of a bookkeeper awfully worried that his boss doesn’t grasp the figures at all - really looks his part. As he presented and defended the national budget for 2013 in parliament, Mr Montoro made two immortally funny remarks.

The first one was that ‘this is the most social budget ever in the history of our democracy’. Once you manage to stifle your hilarious laughter over such a sheer absurdity, you can only shake your head in total disbelief. A social budget? Which cuts jobs, unemployment benefits, health care, education and a string of other advantages from the poorer part of the nation, as it tosses billions to the banks, spares the coffers of the Church, and pardons – nay: REWARDS! - big time tax evaders? You really gottabe kiddin’ me! Nobody believes that. Not even Mr Montoro himself, I trust.

The other hilarious remark was that ‘2013 will be the last year of recession in Spain’. Now, Mr Montoro is not a stupid man, and I usually do appreciate his calm style and his matter-of-fact technocracy. But this one really is too rich, because, you see, I’ve been hearing that things will have improved in 9 months time for four years now! Time and time again, as another round of middle class bashing or poor folk squeezing is being announced (to create jobs and generate growth, of course!), it turns out that Spain is in happy expectation of a full recovery! Alas, so far, it has always turned out to be a false pregnancy. And I fear that this lovechild which Mr Montoro begot with his beloved Troika Austerity will also turn out to be a sorry pseudocyesis.

Which leads us to the real question: Will this crisis ever end? Well, yes, dear reader, of course it will. Nothing lasts forever, not even wars, or epidemics, or the worst mismanaged crisis since the South Sea Bubble. And as in wars and epidemics, the question is not: will it ever end, but ‘what will be left standing once it does?’ And that’s another matter altogether.

In the long run, dear reader, this crisis will subside and pass. Yet Europe will not be the better for it. Once the industrial powerhouse of the world, the continent will play Second Best to happier lands, tottering on with €uro balls chained to its aching ankles. Over this land of forlorn glory, the winners to come out of this crisis will lord it supreme. They are three: the banks, which have seen their scandalous losses socialized, while their CEO’s were ‘fired’ each with one, two or ten 10 million euro ‘compensation’ bonuses; the apparatchiks of the EU who will wield dictatorial, unchecked and unbalanced power; and – strange to say - the die-hard neo-cons and Reaganites in every land, who will have pulled off what they could never manage to sell to the electorate through the ballot box: the definite annihilation of the welfare state.

Talking of jokes: that last one is rather funny too. For it does make you wonder what Lady Thatcher – she of the famous anti-EEG NO, NO, NO!!! – thinks of the European Union now…? After all, bien etonnés de se trouver ensemble, I suppose: those fellows whom she hated with such a vengeance, are now realizing the political program she was dreaming of, to the very last letter!

 By the way, here is one more of those Agitprop editorials from the known Eurosceptic Red Commie Fascist newspaper The New York Times, written once again by a blockhead who does not understand how Peace and Prosperity, or Growth and Employment, are best reached.

(Oh, and DO note that even the chilly-hearted boys and girls of the IMF suddenly seem to have discovered that slash-and-burn austerity (which, by the by, they invented, slapped onto Africa for 5 decades and then applied to European nations…) is not the miracle cure that they always said it was! Are they perhaps afraid they might be held responsible for the results? And are now making ready to blame it all on those horrible devils, the Germans? The rats, it seems, are leaving the sinking ship. Sauve qui peut!)


  1. So, I stumbled across your blog in early 2015, and can't help but read your comments on Mr. Montoro's budget for 2013. In it he says that 2013 will be the last year of recession. You laughed at him. You thought his comments were hilarious. Yet you are wrong and he was right, Spain's economy in 2014 grew by 1.5% and expected to grow by 2.5% this year. You then find his comments on a "social budget" hilarious. Yet again, the economy created 400,000 jobs in 2014!!! How is it possible to be as wrong as you. I mean, you were so emphatic, so clear so right to laugh at Mr. Montoro...

  2. Dear Aitor,

    Thank you for your constructive criticism. As I was writing in the sarcastic mode back in 2012, perhaps I did not get my points all the way across. So please allow me to elucidate.

    First of all: AT THE TIME OF WRITING it was perfectly impossible to say whether Mr Montoro's announcement was a prophecy or merely another propaganda stunt. As I point out in the text: we had had various such announcements, both from the present Spanish government and its predecessors. And they always turned out to be nonsense. So, on that empirical basis, I dare say I was correct in my skepticism.

    Secondly: I did clearly stipulate that the crisis would at some point subside, and I am truly glad that there are now 'green buds' on the economic boughs. For I do love the country dearly, and I wish her well.

    But thirdly: much as there are some good signs and reasons for hope, the battle is not yet fought. With unemployments at some 24 %, youth unemployment at nearly 50 %, an estimate of citizens living below the poverty line of some 30 % (not my calculation, but that of respectable international bodies), a painful absence of credit to small and medium sized businesses (who generate 2/3 of employment in any open economy), tremendous cuts in education and health care, and a threatening renewal of the sovereign debt crisis because of Greece, Italy and France, it is hardly the time to cry victory; even in an election year!

    So: Yes, Mr Montoro's assessment that the formal crisis would be over in 2014 was right, in hindsight, and my mockery was premature. But the OVERALL crisis of Spanish society is still in full swing, and there is no denying that, whatever political preferences any reasonable man may entertain.

    And may I remind you that nasty revolutions usually break out, not when things are bad, but when people's expectations of improvement turn out to have been vain after all?

    Your English is splendid, by the by. I've only known five Spaniards who reached that level. My compliments!

    Yours, Alfred B M