Bacon and speed

Fernando Fernández. Professor. IE Business School

12 May 2011

The current Spanish government has descended into a chaos of incoherence and frivolity. Meanwhile the country seems more concerned about Ronaldo’s goals and celeb gossip.

The use made of 23 F by Rodríguez Zapatero to avoid having to reply to Rajoy is unacceptable. Even more so for a president who has made the successful management of the transition his very own hallmark. A mandatory pact, if we are to recall his words. Not knowing one´s arse from one´s elbow is typical of someone who has lost all sense of reality, a trait of a politician who has no understanding whatsoever of what is going on in the world. What was going to be the most effective parliament ever has been a nightmare. Even Carmen Chacón has rebelled against him, with what our leader has done for Catalonia and for that generation of insufficiently trained young people, which he has given a helping hand in reaching the highest levels of incompetence. But we shouldn´t be surprised. If there is one thing that has characterised this post-modern socialism, it is its unbearable incoherence and superficiality.

I am writing from very far away. I have spent the day wondering about Spain´s image. The main news from the Council on Competitiveness has been that some large Spanish enterprises delayed launching businesses after they stood by and watched Spain steadfastly became the sick man of Europe, all the while maintaining a Brechtian silence; however, it has been a revealing exercise of masochism. The few who know what I am speaking about (let´s be honest, the goals scored by Ronaldo or Messi are much more important) don´t understand what we are playing at, how we have managed to waste the huge amount of goodwill we had across the entire emerging world.

How have you managed to do things so badly when you had everything going for you? How have you managed to be so ignorant of what was happening? Did you really think you could avoid a bank crisis with such a massive real estate bubble? I try to convince them that we are not so naive, that perhaps it has been deliberate, that the PSOE has reacted as did Franco in his later stages to the first oil crisis (there is no political room for economic adjustments, let´s come up with a story we can sell), just like the Arab leaders are doing to counter the awakening of the civil population. Then I realised that I am losing the person I am speaking to, that he is taking his drink elsewhere, to another country he finds more attractive, leaving me with my well-rehearsed lines on my lips.

I´m afraid that is what might happen to these businesses if they do not adapt their sales pitch to the perception of reality. The world is not at all interested in our provincial battles to save the nationality of savings banks; it has enough on trying to understand what is happening to these same banks in Korea. It is utterly bored with our provincialism; everyone has something to say about the last promotional visit made by one autonomous community or another. Those who are most in the know (there is always one at every cocktail party) ask you directly when Zapatero plans to stop Catalonia from assuming more debt so that Spanair can replace Ryanair in Gerona, when is the Bank of Spain going to treat the Catalan savings banks like the rest, Galician savings banks, for example, including intervention if necessary, and when we are going to stop playing on people’s fears on the subject of nuclear power. When I ask them to be patient with the changeover of our president, those who do not go directly for another drink openly tell me that they’ve been more than patient, believing that Spain was something else for the last seven years. I note an increasingly bitter tone.

The Maghreb crisis has done away with the little appetite for risk that remained among long-suffering investors. I read the Spanish press and I see people who are concerned about Belén Esteban and a government forcing a smile while the backroom is on fire, and we don’t even have enough to buy a watering can.

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