Another bucket of cold water for Spain. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has improved its economic outlooks for all developed countries except Spain, for which it maintains its estimate of a 12.8% fall in GDP for this year 2020. That is the brief summing-up of a catastrophic forecast, delivered just as the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic is being noticed in a significant way and a state of alarm has already been adopted in Madrid and other municipalities in its region, while Catalonia is also this Wednesday addressing important mobility restrictions on its citizens, a ban on face-to-face classes in universities and a series of strong measures affecting bars and restaurants where the possibility of transmission is thought to be higher.
It is clear that things are getting worse than in other countries, when in the industrialized world only Spain fails to improve its prospects for the end of the year compared to the estimates published four months ago. For example, the IMF's calculations for Germany show a fall of 6% in growth - when in June it was 8% - and for France 9.8 - it was 12.5% in June. But if we go through the 17 most industrialized countries one by one we see improvement, both in the eurozone, in the United States and Canada, and in China. Only Spain is stuck in its 12.8% GDP fall. These calculations were made before the announcement of the new measures that are being adopted in Spain and that will be more drastic in the coming weeks. The figures in Spain also show that the attempt to prioritize the economy with an accelerated lifting of lockdown measures before the summer did not address the underlying problem: the economy did not evolve as satisfactorily as some thought and very high contagion numbers were maintained, which were key in understanding the initial rate of spread of the pandemic.
It is absolutely necessary for governments to be aware of this economic situation, in which ERTO furlough schemes - which certainly provide great help but do not resolve the problem - end up camouflaging unemployment figures that would be outrageous and can thus appear conveniently touched up. In the future, we will have to ask ourselves how it is possible that the Spanish economy is unable to regain momentum when countries around us in similar conditions with regard to Covid-19 are able to do so. But as this analysis will require a broader consensus than is currently found in society and in the political class to carry out reforms that are neither comfortable nor easy and also set aside some of the specific economic dogmas of left-wing orthodoxy, the most important thing now is to make the public aware of the collective effort which must be implemented as soon as possible in the public health measures that the Catalan government is now announcing.
The Pedro Sánchez government cannot continue to engage in political marketing and confrontation with all institutions, forgetting about the economy. We already know that the promise made by the current prime minister, who once said he would like to be remembered as the leader who fixed the economy in Spain, will not be fulfilled. Nor will we emerge stronger from this crisis, as they preached in that million-dollar advertising campaign. But the collapse of the economy forces us to do something more simply scratch out a few votes at any price and set aside reforms that only the government can lead even at the expense of eventually paying a high electoral cost. This will always be better than just playing on and on like the musicians on the Titanic until the ship - in the end, yes - sinks completely.