Pessimism. Great pessimism. That is the only conclusion that can be extracted from the new growth figures for the European economies that the European Commission has offered this Monday. Spain is still at the bottom of the heap and will be the last country in the eurozone to recover its pre-pandemic economic levels, which will not happen until the end of 2023. The executive in Brussels has again stripped naked the Spanish government's own data and presented a concerning picture of the economy. Thus, the growth for this year that was estimated at 5.6% has now been left at just 4% and inflation of 6.3% is forecast for this 2022. The forecasts are even worse if there are further complications with the supply of Russian gas and the connections with Europe are completely cut: in that case, inflation would be above 9% and the eurozone GDP would plummet.
Given that the previous forecasts were made by the European Commission at the beginning of the year, it is quite clear that the deterioration of the economy has been sharp. Although the war in Ukraine and the invasion of Russia have taken up less and less news space on the front pages, the consequences are obvious and are here to stay. The powder keg a few thousand kilometres away from us also has other derivatives that make up a situation of enormous difficulty: the sudden rise in energy prices, the lack of raw materials and, in particular, an incipient global food crisis that has sent prices skyrocketing and led major countries, such as India, to implement measures unprecedented in recent times to control wheat exports, with that country being the second largest producer of this essential cereal behind China.
The economic crisis cannot be separated from the political crisis and Spain has been appearing in all the international media for a month now over Catalangate, the most significant case of international espionage that has come to light up till now, which has its raison d'être in the persecution of the Catalan independence movement. Both crises are amplified by the feedback loops of a directionless Spanish government and a prime minister who repeatedly proclaims that Spain is the engine of transformation despite all the adversities. However, reality is a long way from accompanying Pedro Sánchez, who is approaching an extremely difficult election in Andalusia, until very recently a Socialist stronghold and today ruled by the People's Party. An overwhelming victory for the PP's Juanma Moreno would leave the PSOE on the ropes at a key moment in a legislature that it still might fail to complete.
Sánchez had the Next Generation funds from Europe to reverse the situation but, far from doing that, the centralization employed by his government in the distribution of those billions, has ended up provoking widespread protest from the autonomous communities, starting with Catalonia, which manages 7.8% of the European funds when the level proportionate to its GDP contribution would be around 19%. More than 11 points difference, more than double what it is in fact receiving; we are talking about many billions of euros. Thus, the funds have not been the panacea that they imagined in the Moncloa, nor a ramp for relaunching the economy. The increase in social spending is serving to reduce the impact of the crisis on the sectors that are less well off but, in return, does not help contain economic difficulties. So much so that despite public debt having multiplied in a stratospheric way - four times over between 2008 and 2021 - it is of absolutely no help in giving tools to companies, SMEs and the self-employed to tackle the crisis.