The plummet of the economy this 2020 will be unparalleled in the last 80 years and will dwarf the effects of the financial crisis unleashed in 2008. Spain will be one of the worst affected countries in the eurozone, with a fall of 8% in GDP and a rapid rise in unemployment to 20.8%.
These grim predictions were placed on the table this Monday by the International Monetary Fund, and furthermore, without excluding the possibility that the balance for the year will be even worse, given the huge uncertainties surrounding the economy throughout the Western world. In the case of Spain, there will be two major victims: tourism and the entire sector connected with it, an essential economic lung due to the high volume of revenue it provides; and exports, an area in expansion and, in the case of Catalonia, one that has grown steadily in recent years.
Two facts which bring home clearly the significance of the IMF forecasts: in the year of Spain's worst GDP fall during the financial crisis, 2009, the decrease in gross domestic product was 3.9%, and now, the forecast for this year is more than double. In second place, unemployment: the percentage out of work at the end of 2019 in the Spanish state was 13.8%; the forecast is for this to increase by seven points.
This would not create the largest unemployment figure that Spain has had in recent decades, as unfortunately at other times in recent history the rate has exceeded 23%, 24% and 25%. It could even be inferred, given this background, that the IMF may have underestimated the difficulties in job creation in the Spanish state.
The attitude of Pedro Sánchez's government, keeping its head low, is not very different to that of the former Spanish PM, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, over a decade ago, when the IMF warned him of the crisis that was coming. Deny the worst of it, point out that it's all simply a prediction and that the countries around us are also more or less in the same boat. A half truth.
We are in as bad a state as Italy, whose economy is forecast to fall by 9%, but not France or Germany, which are predicted to have 7% declines. Basically because the German economic energy to find a way through has little or nothing to do with the Spanish, the difference between one country that by and large has made hay while the sun was shining and another that wasted its resources on projects as superfluous as the radial high-speed train centred on Madrid when there were only two rail lines that were really essential: the Madrid-Barcelona passenger connection and the freight line for the whole Mediterranean arc, from Algeciras to the border with France. What has been carried through is a long way from these needs, as successive governments opted for a high speed network for everyone, even though the critical mass of passengers and the profitability levels were impossible.