2018 has been a "fairly good" year, although there are starting to be hints of "a certain deceleration" in some indices. That said, the College of Economists of Catalonia, in a report presented this morning, says that the data doesn't show "the economic apocalypse that we were sold by politics".
The economists conclude that 2018 was a good year for Catalonia economically speaking, and they expect 2019 to be "reasonably good". Catalonia's GDP continued growing at a higher rate than Spain's for the first three quarters of 2018, 3% to 2.6%. Forecasts for 2019 are a little lower, between 2% and 2.5%.
The irrelevance of the budget
The economist Albert Carreras has said that, when it comes to the public sector, "the Catalan government has the economy under control thanks to the good performance of income". With everything, "we're worried about the dilution the role of the budget is submitted to". He explains that whilst there is strong pressure to approve the budget, the great spending increases have already been approved by other means. For example, the increase in pensions and the increase in public salaries.
"We're seeing that spending, cuts and increases in spending can be managed by executive order, even without a budget". That, according to Carreras, "leads to a growing irrelevance of the state's account". As such, "we've seen that everything that's very cross-spectrum and no political party wants to oppose, will be easy to pass by executive order", he says. "If the budget isn't necessary, they should tell us so. It's undermined the function they had historically".
The economist and journalist Jordi Goula highlighted tourism, saying the topic has "been handled in a way which has done a lot of harm", citing comments from some quarters that tourism Catalonia was in a crisis. "If we look at the data, by November, we'd already reached the entire figure of spending by foreigners from 2017," he said. "What's fallen has been internal tourism, which has recorded 7.4% less".
Goula went on to say that "we can't talk of crisis, we have to talk of records". "It's easy to imagine that this decrease is due to how what's happening in Catalonia is being sold to Spain," he said. Of overnight stays in Barcelona, 17 million were by people from abroad and 2.7 million from Spain. "There are sectors which have a certain tendency to complain," says Goula.
What's more, it's 4 and 5-star hotels that are seeing increases in foreign visitors. In conclusion, the college's dean, Modest Guinjoan said: "the tourism sector isn't in crisis despite Spain's boycotts".
Eppur si muove
The phrase is attributed to Galileo: "Eppur si muove" - "And yet it moves", talking about the Earth, but it also applies to the Catalan economy. "Reality has refuted the doomsaying", says Guinjoan: the figures show the Catalan economy moving in the right direction. He cited exports as an example, saying that once again it had set an all-time record: "we're going from record to record when it comes to exports", representing more than 25% of all Spain's exports.
As for the labour market, the economist Xavier Cuadras says that the unemployment rate in Catalonia (10.6%) is still high, but "much better than the Spanish [rate]" of 15%. Overall, the performance of the jobs market in 2018 "has been good enough".
Finally, Cuadras says that the current growth is the most solid since 2014 and that the deceleration "is a trend which we should consider normal and isn't in response to an idiosyncratic behaviour, but has to be evaluated in the context of the global economy".