Belén Romana, general secretary of the Círculo de Empresarios, said yesterday in Pamplona that 2012 will be a year of very little growth in the developed world, but she stated that the problem is only Europe and the United States. She explained that the Atlantic-centered world is coming to an end and the axis of trade increasingly shifts towards the Pacific. The common problem, according to the adviser from Acerinox and Ageas, is that developed countries have used expansionary policy to prop up growth, but that was the only bullet they had, and its effect has already ended. On the other hand, she argued that public debt can have other negative effects, such as, since credit is limited, reducing funding to viable private companies and making it more expensive. However, in her opinion, there is no longer room for debate: when the markets do not grant debt, there is no option for Keynesian policies”.
“The world is not in recession; the problem is Europe and the United States”
Within Spain, she stressed that the labour market is not a problem now, but a constant one: While in other countries the economy grows because productivity increases, in Spain we grow by increasing the number of workers but decreasing average productivity. According to Romana, this would mean that when a recession strikes, the market adjusts by sending large numbers of people out of work. And despite these symptoms, there are still those who refuse to reform the labour market model! However, she also stressed that the Spanish economy has other strengths: It is the only developed country, along with Germany and Japan, that has maintained its share with respect to world trade, because in many sectors we remain competitive.
In contrast to what many other experts think, Romana rejected that credit was one of the most pressing problems. In fact, she argued that banks are lending, since the credit denial rate has not dropped at all, indicating that it is a demand problem. There are many companies that, as their situation is worse than that of a few years ago, cannot borrow in the same amounts, she explained. The general secretary of the Círculo de Empresarios also rejected the Tobin tax as a way to make banks contribute with resources to the public treasury. Tobin himself has already distanced himself from that initiative, considering that it would be very difficult to implement, she said. In addition, who will be the international agent that imposes the collection and distributes the rate? In the end, it is an execution problem. She mentioned the case of Switzerland that could benefit greatly from this, while banks would pass the increased costs on to their users.