No country for young men… or young women either

by niamh on June 4, 2013

There’s a nice summary of EU plans to address the ‘slow train-wreck’ of youth unemployment here.

But as the author says, ‘where are the jobs going to come from?’

Screen Shot 2013-06-04 at 12.10.24

Amidst the litany of country-by-country disasters noted here is this:

‘The chart shows a downturn in Ireland’s youth unemployment, from over 30% in early 2012 to 26% now. This is why: ”In the past four years, over 300,000 people have emigrated from Ireland; 40% were aged between 15 and 24”.- RTE News, 9 May2013’. My own recently-graduated daughter and most of her friends among them.

{ 53 comments }

1

Barry 06.04.13 at 1:07 pm

“But as the author says, ‘where are the jobs going to come from?’”

Countries are going to have to drop out of the Euro, the sooner, the better. Hopefully they’ll purge and imprison[1] the politicians who supported the types of ‘bailouts’ which only bailed out the rich UK/German bankers.

It’s no longer honestly deniable that the Euro is a disaster, and that the people running it don’t mind that, at best, and very likely have a well-thumbed copy of Naomi Klein’s ‘Shock Doctrine’ on their desks – as a manual.

[1] I’m a softie, and understand that many of these countries don’t want to bring back capital punishment.

2

Metatone 06.04.13 at 1:17 pm

Frances Coppola has some sensible comments around the same graph:

http://coppolacomment.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/the-movement-of-people-and-its.html

For myself, one this represents is that economists have forgotten/never understood that an economy is a system and that if you dismantle part of the system it can have knock on effects from which there is no easy recovery.

The other thing this reminds me of is my musings about the North of England and the East of Germany – short version, in an open economy people will migrate to centres of activity. The European project inherently amplifies the move to cities and city-regions. The future of an open economy Europe is some central industrial regions with a high population (Randstad? Rhine-Ruhr?) alongside the big capitals (Berlin, London, Paris) and then some cities of historical importance that survive to stay economically viable (Edinburgh, Dublin, Barcelona) and then hinterlands, with cities that are dwindling or marginally stable and decaying former suburbs and much wider empty areas. I think you can see this pattern in East Germany quite well and less well, but visible in some features in the North of England.

3

Walt 06.04.13 at 1:26 pm

Economists? Including the many economists who thought the euro was a bad idea, and have called for radically different macroeconomic policies?

4

ajay 06.04.13 at 1:40 pm

The other thing this reminds me of is my musings about the North of England and the East of Germany – short version, in an open economy people will migrate to centres of activity. The European project inherently amplifies the move to cities and city-regions

Except that if you are from the North of England and can’t get a job and so go to London to find one, people will be able to understand (give or take) what you are saying, and if you are from Greece and go to the Rhineland they won’t. Youth unemployment in Ireland (apparently) correlates much better with the UK than with any of the other eurozone countries and I would assume that this is a big part of it.

5

Jesús Couto Fandiño 06.04.13 at 1:54 pm

Can any of you mail your impressions to our cretins in power in Spain? The last idiocy was MoP Gonzáles Pons saying that young people working in the EU cant be said to be outside their country. I guess I missed the memo in which we will get pensions and healthcare paid from the common European fund.

One wonders if they are that clueless, or think we are so stupid they can just say bullshit like this night and day

6

MPAVictoria 06.04.13 at 2:00 pm

This is just depressing.

7

themgt 06.04.13 at 2:11 pm

Bloomberg just published “Spain’s Crisis Fades as Exports Transform Country” – http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-03/spain-s-crisis-fades-as-exports-lead-the-way.html

Powerful stuff

8

Jesús Couto Fandiño 06.04.13 at 2:17 pm

Yes, whatever they are snorting its very powerful. Like “INCREDIBLE JOB RECOVERY IN MAY!”.. .due to the summer tourist season, like all years, take that out and the recovery has been calculated to be… 245 people in the whole country.

Meanwhile the Bank of Spain focus on telling us we should find ways to pay less than minimum wages, no doubt to fuel that incredible export boom and channel it efficently … to as few hands as possible.

9

Andy W 06.04.13 at 2:25 pm

On a quick reading, that Bloomberg article doesn’t seem to do much to justify its headline. It has plenty of examples of firms hanging on by turning to export markets, but that’s hardly a recipe for the economy as a whole, and there’s very little to suggest that the crisis is fading: a drop in unemployment claims could easily be down to people giving up or getting out, rather than actually finding work.

10

Andy W 06.04.13 at 2:27 pm

Wow, that unemployment claim wasn’t even seasonally adjusted? That’s desperately poor reporting.

11

Jesús Couto Fandiño 06.04.13 at 2:36 pm

#10 And politics. The PP said exactly the same … when the PSOE was in power. Then it was “saying unemployment falls in May is like saying days are longer”. Now they are in power is AMAZING RECOVERY AT LAST WE ARE GETTING OUT!!!

Bull. Shit. The economy is still forecasted to have a 1,5% contraction.

12

marcel 06.04.13 at 2:45 pm

ajay wrote:

Except that if you are from the North of England and can’t get a job and so go to London to find one, people will be able to understand (give or take) what you are saying, and if you are from Greece and go to the Rhineland they won’t.

Have you ever tried to understand anyone with a Yorkshire accent? True, I am American, so maybe I don’t have the necessary experience, but I found it incomprehensible. But then, the same thing happened to me, a nice northerner, who could easily understand midwestern, New York and Boston accents, when I had a business trip c. 1980 to Charlotte NC. It took several repetitions of most statements before I could cotton on to (not cotton to) what people were saying.

13

marcel 06.04.13 at 2:46 pm

Niamh: ”In the past four years, over 300,000 people have emigrated from Ireland; 40% were aged between 15 and 24”.

I don’t know enough about the population of Ireland. Is 120,000 a significant fraction of this age group in Ireland?

14

Matt McG 06.04.13 at 3:08 pm

re: 13

The whole country has a population of 4.5 million, so yeah.

15

Niall McAuley 06.04.13 at 3:11 pm

120,000 is about 2 years worth of young people.

16

Ronan(rf) 06.04.13 at 3:16 pm

“Have you ever tried to understand anyone with a Yorkshire accent? True, I am American, so maybe I don’t have the necessary experience, but I found it incomprehensible.”

I always had this problem with my (not particularly strong) Irish accent. No one understood it, ever. I remember one American once asking a friend and myself what language we were speaking (it was English) – but I’ve learned to slow it down and pronounce clearly,so thats been a positive of emigration (although a few words seem to give problems, such as rushing/Russian – ‘sorry I cant stop, Im rushing’ – ‘I never knew you were Russian’ – youd be surprised at how popular this joke is.)
But I think if you get used to one ‘unusual’ accent, they all become comprehensible (which is a theory I heard Mila Kunis come up with, but it rings largely true to my ears)

Anywaay..

On emigration numbers, I think it’s difficult to justify classifying UK/continental European migration as emigration any more (in the conventional usage of the word) More an internal migration

17

Trader Joe 06.04.13 at 3:17 pm

It should be noted that for most of these countries the <25y unemployment rate was in the 15-30% BEFORE the financial crisis really began – i.e. when the economies were busy overbuilding, overheating and laying on debt.

This is indicative of some fairly substantial structural inefficiencies. Economies that are growing usually create jobs across the age spectrum if for no other reason than to replace workers who retire or otherwise leave the workforce.

Language issues were noted above, but that wouldn't apply to the in country rates – France for example was just either side of 20% unemployment the entire period from 00 to 08….during a time when the economy was mostly growing and indicative of an unwillingness to hire in-country separate and apart from mobility issues.

Odds are somewhere there is a Harvard study full of badly constructed data sets that shows when <25y employment tops 25% revolutions follow.

18

Bloix 06.04.13 at 3:36 pm

120,000 is about 20% of the 15-24 population of Ireland.

However, people age into and out of the age group, so you can’t quite say that 20% of people in this age group have emigrated. But in 2012 alone, about 6% of people 15-24 emigrated.

These figures are gross, not net, and although Ireland is experiencing net emigration now, there’s still significant immigration. Over a four year period, some number of those who left almost certainly returned and are counted in the immigration statistics. A significant number as well are non-Irish nationals, many of whom came to Ireland to work and are leaving due to high unemployment.

None of which casts doubt on Niamh’s point that the decrease in youth unemployment results from emigration, not better prospects.

Statistics from http://www.cso.ie/en/media/csoie/releasespublications/documents/population/2012/popmig_2012.pdf

19

mpowell 06.04.13 at 4:04 pm

I think given the length of the contraction in Spain and other places, it is clear that keeping the euro was a mistake for many of those countires. But we before we blame the politicians, is it remotely plausible that better democratic representation in Europe would lead to better outcomes? As far as I am aware the Euro is very popular and the population also near-unanimous in their opposition to inflation (whether they understand what that really is or not). It is also possible that this is the best that a country like Spain can hope for in the medium term. Forty years ago, the state was a dictatorship. Perhaps their instititutions are not robust enough for an intelligent, independent monetary policy.

20

marcel 06.04.13 at 4:18 pm

Ronan wrote:

On emigration numbers, I think it’s difficult to justify classifying UK/continental European migration as emigration any more (in the conventional usage of the word) More an internal migration

Maybe it seems this way to the kids who are moving.

Less so to their parents and to others of their parents’ generation who paid taxes for school and childcare in part under the expectation that these young’uns would eventually contribute to their pensions.

Or, abstracting from pecuniary considerations, upheld their part of the social contract and did their part to acculturate and socialize the next generation hoping and expecting that that would lead to the continuation of their culture and way of life.

And it’s not as if the kids are breaking any implicit agreement or abdicating their responsibilities by moving. They are being given no reasonable alternative.

(Written by the father of 2 20-somethings who have, fortunately, not been put in this position. But they better look sharp if I find them, um, off of my lawn, goddammit).

21

Jesús Couto Fandiño 06.04.13 at 4:26 pm

I dont buy the argument that our institutions are not good enough for independent policy.

Mainly cause even if they are, and by large they are as they are in hands of cretins and corrupts, the alternative is being under the well though policies of more evolved, modern, robust institutions that only care about Germany and the “core”.

The first situation can be solved. The second does not seems to be possible to solve.

22

ajay 06.04.13 at 4:32 pm

It should be noted that for most of these countries the <25y unemployment rate was in the 15-30% BEFORE the financial crisis really began – i.e. when the economies were busy overbuilding, overheating and laying on debt.
This is indicative of some fairly substantial structural inefficiencies.

Or possibly just of the fact that youth unemployment rates always tend to be higher than – roughly double – those of the population as a whole.
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/youth-unemployment-rates-us-germany.html

23

Rakesh Bhandari 06.04.13 at 5:00 pm

One worries that with such a high rate of emigration from some places, then “outsiders” may rise as percentage of the employed population (even perhaps as the total employment to population ratio falls or remains low, as here in the US). Of course this is tricky, as “outsiders” may leave actually leave at a higher rate than the citizens of the locale. At the very least the perception may be that the local economy is coming to be dominated by outsiders. The track wreck may then become what Guy Standing is calling a politics of inferno. Berlusconi’s approval of vigilante violence against “an army of evil” serves here as an example. Standing argues that without the provision of a guaranteed basic income little stands in the way of a politics of inferno.

Standing’s Precariat is an important book. He also critiques the thesis that youth unemployment must be largely voluntary on account of the unemployed generally having higher qualifications than those youth who do accept work.

There is also the question of youth involvement in the shadow economy.

24

Trader Joe 06.04.13 at 5:16 pm

@22 ajay
Interesting charts and commentary, but all post 2008 (I’d like to say post recession, but that would be premature).

Its true there is always a higher natural unemployment for <25y than the general economy. A portion of them are in school and/or not working full time which raises the statistics. Likewise its understandable why youth unemployment would run high after a recession as business looks to rehire experienced workers first…my comment was directed at the 2000-2008 period when unemployment levels were still +20% for many of the countries on the chart in the OP. That was largely a period of economic growth and it didn't seem to result in any significant absorbtion of the youth labor force. A chart like Ireland's might have been what one would expect to see – or even Spain, albeit at a very high unemployment level throughout.

25

ajay 06.04.13 at 5:34 pm

Its true there is always a higher natural unemployment for <25y than the general economy. A portion of them are in school and/or not working full time which raises the statistics.

I thought that, but the European statistics chaps distinguish between youth unemployment rate (which excludes fulltime students from the denominator) and youth unemployment ratio (which doesn’t and is hence a lot lower). The figures above are the rate. Neither figure counts students as unemployed.
Here’s the OECD figures back to 2004:
http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/employment/youth-unemployment-rate_20752342-table2

The OECD as a whole never got below 12% youth unemployment. Eyeballing it, it looks like, for pretty much any country, youth unemployment is always double the overall figure (see elsewhere on the site).

26

ajay 06.04.13 at 5:38 pm

…which would imply that asking “Why does France have such high youth unemployment” is the wrong question; the right questions are “why does France have such high unemployment” and “why is youth unemployment so much higher, and what can we do about this given the damage that being unemployed as a youth causes your earning prospects for the rest of your life?”

27

Barry 06.04.13 at 5:52 pm

Andy W 06.04.13 at 2:27 pm
“Wow, that unemployment claim wasn’t even seasonally adjusted? That’s desperately poor reporting.”

Whenever I think that reporters are Pravda-ishly supportive of whatever war the US govt dreams up, I read the business press, and see what real boot-licking looks like.

28

Barry 06.04.13 at 5:54 pm

marcel: “Less so to their parents and to others of their parents’ generation who paid taxes for school and childcare in part under the expectation that these young’uns would eventually contribute to their pensions. “

Another way to put it is that Europe doesn’t have a fiscal union, just a monetary union (this has been covered by Krugman, who linked to others who covered it earlier).

29

Trader Joe 06.04.13 at 6:11 pm

@ajay 25&26
I see what you mean and agree with the questions you pose in 26.

Another slant would be- what exactly does Germany do that their figures are so substantially better than anyone else (US included). One thought, and admittedly a guess, compulsory military training – perhaps making the youths a bit more employable when they are done? Just an idea.

30

niamh 06.04.13 at 6:54 pm

But Germany is not having a recession. Their total unemployment rates have actually fallen since 2008. They have held real living standards constant for most people for some 20 years. They have very good training systems, and now propose to open the model to some of the southern European unemployed youth . They have also made the lower and outer levels of their own labour market much more flexible (ie insecure, low-paid, poor benefits), in a new class of ‘prekarität’. This has come about for a whole complex of reasons to do with their export-led growth model, a story told by Wolfgang Streeck in ReForming Capitalism (2009).

31

Andy W 06.04.13 at 7:00 pm

Trader Joe @ 29: “what exactly does Germany do that their figures are so substantially better than anyone else (US included)”

According to Krugman and others, the recipe seems to be:

1) Form a currency union with your neighbors;
2) Lend them large amounts of money, overheating their economies and driving their wage levels sky-high compared to yours;
3) Export tons of goods to them, soaking up all the cash from stage 2;
4) Wait for a financial crisis, cut the lending off abruptly and watch them twist in the wind.

Did I miss anything out?

32

Jesús Couto Fandiño 06.04.13 at 7:14 pm

Oh yes, the Germans are going to open the model to the south. Yes.

Aha.

Let me get this straight – they are going. To. TRAIN CHEAPER COMPETITORS. To their industry and services sector.

Yep. Sure. Aha.

33

Trader Joe 06.04.13 at 8:06 pm

@30
My point was that Germay was among the best on youth employment both pre and post 2008 which suggests a structural difference. Ajay’s data @25 show that the improvement far pre-dates the recession. Although obviously the ongoing recession in southern Europe, France, Ireland etc. has mangnified the differences in recent years it was a difference there all along.

Your answer suggests a mix of 1) better youth training and 2) a more export oriented economy are amongt the differentiating factors.

I’d add that getting people into the work force when they are young is pro-cyclical which is to say that it encourages exactly the type of vibrant, entrepreneurial and knowledge based economy which facilitates rebounding from recessions. Positive immigration policies have been shown to foster this as well.

It actually makes me wonder what the relationship between youth employment and GDP growth has been over time and in different geographies (i.e. not just Europe). I’m not sure its causal, but it stands to reason that an economy that consistently employs a higher proportion of its young workers would out perform one which doesn’t over time.

34

dsquared 06.04.13 at 9:38 pm

Except that if you are from the North of England and can’t get a job and so go to London to find one, people will be able to understand (give or take) what you are saying, and if you are from Greece and go to the Rhineland they won’t.

Sitcom potential here surely: “Kalispera, Pet”?

Less so to their parents and to others of their parents’ generation who paid taxes for school and childcare in part under the expectation that these young’uns would eventually contribute to their pensions.

Or, abstracting from pecuniary considerations, upheld their part of the social contract and did their part to acculturate and socialize the next generation hoping and expecting that that would lead to the continuation of their culture and way of life.

I am not sure there were really so very many generations of Irish people who grew up in the expectation that emigration was something that would never be particularly relevant to their families. There are four Irish contributors to CT (strictly speaking, three plus one US citizen born in Ireland) and only one of them still lives there.

Labour mobility within the Euro area is surely part of the solution, not the problem, and it is not even all that long ago that Ireland had significant net inward migration from Germany and France.

35

GRE 06.05.13 at 3:07 am

In Sydney Australia we have various construction projects about the place and many young Irish (both male & female) are employed on these projects. Indeed, the suburb where I live (about 4 kilometres from the city centre) has experienced a bit of a surge in new Irish residents.

36

Jesús Couto Fandiño 06.05.13 at 9:16 am

#34 “Labour mobility within the Euro area is surely part of the solution, not the problem, and it is not even all that long ago that Ireland had significant net inward migration from Germany and France”

Is less part of the solution than, say, in USA, when you take into account our old and sick will NOT be sustained by German/Finish/British/X taxes and social security payments, etc. And that you are basically looking at one way tickets from the Southern employable in the North – I dont think anybody can realistically expect they will return to the countries where they will face huge unemploment who knows for so many years, less pay, and well, migration has always other factors to tie you down. You got a husband/wife/partner. A kid. Etc.

37

ajay 06.05.13 at 9:32 am

Another slant would be- what exactly does Germany do that their figures are so substantially better than anyone else (US included). One thought, and admittedly a guess, compulsory military training – perhaps making the youths a bit more employable when they are done? Just an idea.

Germany doesn’t have compulsory military training – it has (or rather had during the period in question; binned it in 2011) compulsory national service, but you could elect to serve in a civilian capacity instead.
The argument for conscription being an economic booster is slightly undermined by the observation that, if I remember correctly, the only country in the eurozone still to have conscription is… Greece.

As 31 points out, the Germans seem to have hit on a terrific formula for economic growth, which is to bully other countries into letting you run their economies for them, to your benefit.
To give a historical perspective, this is German Economic Growth Strategy “Alpha”. GEGS “Bravo” is to point out to the rest of Europe and the world that you are too big and important to fail, and they’d better hurry up and bail you out if they don’t want to be dragged down in your eventual collapse.
Both have been tried before, with mixed results for Germany and the rest of the world.

38

ajay 06.05.13 at 9:33 am

I am not sure there were really so very many generations of Irish people who grew up in the expectation that emigration was something that would never be particularly relevant to their families.

Quite. Maybe there’s one? Depends how you define “generation”.

39

ajay 06.05.13 at 9:34 am

Sitcom potential here surely: “Kalispera, Pet”?

Might not be quite that comical, when you consider that Germany already has quite a lot of foreign workers living there, many of whom originate from a country that isn’t exactly BFF with Greece.

40

Ronan(rf) 06.05.13 at 11:54 am

“Might not be quite that comical, when you consider that Germany already has quite a lot of foreign workers living there, many of whom originate from a country that isn’t exactly BFF with Greece”

This could also be said about working class Northerners emigrating to work on German building sites though

41

Zamfir 06.05.13 at 12:21 pm

Ajay says: To give a historical perspective, this is German Economic Growth Strategy “Alpha”. GEGS “Bravo” is to point out to the rest of Europe and the world that you are too big and important to fail, and they’d better hurry up and bail you out if they don’t want to be dragged down in your eventual collapse.

Your ‘alpha’ strategy is clear, but i can’t see where you bravo one. There have been many cycles since the 50s where Germany builds up a wage advantage compared to most of Europe, leading to a strained balance of trades. But typical bravo stage is that other countries devalued with respect to the mark, not that they give money to Germany or so. Bailouts would have given them leverage over Germany, while the constant complaint was that they had no leverage, that they could only react with crude .

I mean, that’s why other countries wanted to be in the euro with Germany. They considered the repeating devaluations painful, and hoped that the euro could force their local economies to adapt the German pattern. It’s not as if Germany was dragging unwilling partners into the euro, the Germans where pretty happy the way things were.

42

Zamfir 06.05.13 at 12:25 pm

That should have read ‘crude methods’. Country with crude to sell reacted rather different to trade balance struggles :)

43

Walt 06.05.13 at 12:37 pm

Since the economic performance of France and Italy in the repeated devaluation era was phenomenal, and that since elites in both countries have tried to tie themselves to Germany monetary policy it has been mediocre-to-poor, you have to ask yourself “Painful for who?”

44

hix 06.05.13 at 12:56 pm

In Ireland, from tax evasion obviously. Still a growth industry and Ireland is still far richer than it is supposed to be based on what could be expected from honest endavours for that reason only.

Irish GNI is 114% of the EU average, Czech for comparison, 50%
on a ppp basis: 102 ( lets make that 97 due to tax games)/74 on a ppp basis. 94,7% in Cyprus. There is no reason to expect that that those got who got rich solely through tax evasion and financial non regulation, should exceed the level in a well to do eastern European country on a honest business basis.

People moving arround is the way it is supposed to be. There are problems with that, the most obvious one the different languages, so far to few, not to many move abroad. Ireland is lucky to have so many target locations with the same language and existing emigrant networks. Still rather shocking just how few Spaniards have emigrated to Germany in the recent 3 years, they are barely noticble, compared to say Polnish immigrants.

Some degree of corporatism and vocational training help with youth unemployment, but for the most part, the “low” (in fact also quite high, just comperatively) German numbers can be explained by:
-low college and 12 year school attendance rates, so not only the worst performers are counted as part of the labour force. As share of the overall population, including those ataining higher education in that age group, the difference is much lower.
-demographic development, not many 16-24 year olds and many recent retirees.
-different point in the economic cycle (really stop it already with those cry baby racist anti German conspiracy theories, you have no imagination how bad things were here a couple of years ago and how hard it can be even today.)
-limited number of poverty immigrant children compared to some other nations at a better point in the cycle, those drive up rates for example in Sweden.

“The future of an open economy Europe is some central industrial regions with a high population (Randstad? Rhine-Ruhr?) alongside the big capitals (Berlin, London, Paris) “

Rhin-Ruhr and Berlin are pretty poor. The Ruhr core has the highest unemployment rate and fastest population decline rate in west Germany (just counting cities above 100k). Berlin, well Berlin is just part of the east, considering that Berlin is doing ok.* The Ruhr regions prosperity was based on coal and steel. Non subsidised coal mining is gone for good, steel is also in decline since decades. Transitition to other industries has failed more than in other former steel regions due to stupidity and unfortunate historical pathways. All Universities in the Ruhr area were closed down by Prussia out of fear the region would become to powerfull otherwise and the public adminstration was put into small cities outside the Ruhr region. There are still to few Universities today in the Ruhr region, most establishted in the 70ths, and those who are there are bad financed and low prestigue. Bochum, which got the first and biggest in the 50ths/or 60ths is doing much better than Essen or Dusiburg, so this really matters. Public adminstration is still in small towns outside the Ruhr area. In more recent decades, an unholy aliance between coal-worker unions and the industry has managed to make the government waste billions of Euro to sustain unhealthy jobs that case environmental damage, so that structural adjustment was delayed until it was to late. Even today, some 2 billion Euro are spent on subsidies for coal mining, some 11 billion at the peak. Beyond that, subsidies are often alocated for things like shopping malls, theme parks and the worst, theaters in every small town.

The non coal part of Rhine-Ruhr, Cologne and Düsseldorf, is not doing that great either. The boom regions in Germany are the car and industrial machinery makro regions in Bavaria and Baden Württemberg, finance in Hessen and the place to ship the stuff abroad, Hamburg. Prosperity is not just concentrated in some very big towns, the mid siced University towns, surrounded by car or industrial machinery factories, are also prosperity cores. Sometimes smaller towns, with just 1 industrial machinery company are also doing good. Bavaria and Bade-Württemberg are part of a bigger industrial region, that starts in Northern Italy.

*East gdp is arround 70% of the west (nominal), the former western part of Berlin cannot prosper in that environment either. West Germany alone would be the richest nation in the EU on a ppp basis. Berlin can only be recommended for a holiday, no other major town with so many sights is so cheap.

45

Jesús Couto Fandiño 06.05.13 at 1:06 pm

30000 Spaniards moved to Germany last year, 45% more than previous year. Is not like we teach German in schools, though.

And no anti-German racist theories, mainly cause you can substitute “the Germans” for “the German economical elites”. Who I’m sure would sell their fellow Germans for 1 € if they could.

But when you have the huge crisis in Spain, Portugal & Greece and the German Chancellor takes her time to let it be know that even if those countries would be screwed by it, she would really like to raise interest rates, you feel … well, like the idiot you were when you bought the whole “now we are partners with the Germans!!!!!” Thanks Draghi didnt pay attention but for how long?

I dont buy on any of the conspiracy theories – but it is clear that the “Union” is more “what is good for Germany”. Better to be an independent small irrelevant country able to take your own decisions than to be just an irrelevant surplus thing tied to the German economy for good, bad or worse.

46

Jesús Couto Fandiño 06.05.13 at 1:09 pm

(The last bit is – no, I dont believe the whole Euro scheme is some German secret plan to screw Europe. I just believe that given their weight the whole Union is a farce – at any point, Germany will get what their elites want, and the rest needs will matter not at all)

47

Zamfir 06.05.13 at 2:25 pm

@ Jesus, per-Euro many people in the south thought that it would inevitable to be tied to Germany anyway, and thought that they would have to be more German-alike themselves. What happened to that view? It’s pretty much the economic policy here in the Netherlands, including a defacto currency union that long predates the Euro.

It still makes the country sensitive to the effects of arbitrary German policy choices, but on the whole it works well.

48

Jesús Couto Fandiño 06.05.13 at 2:35 pm

I was one of those with that view.

Look where it brought us. At this point, we are basically ruled from Brussels, implementing an agenda that cant work, priorizing the wrong things (deficit over employment), and without any possibility of saying no to it, no matter the human, social, and political cost. Till something blows – and it will. Here or in Portugal or in Greece or in the three or France or Italy too.

The first mistake was thinking the Union mean we were now like the Germans. We werent. At several levels. From politics to corruption to industry to size to… And the second mistake is that now we cant disengage from our past mistakes and pursue any different course, unless we pay twice the cost – the one for the mistakes, and the one from breaking from the Euro.

We all loved the EU and the Euro over here. It was modern. It was finally a recognition that we were, at last, Europe again.

It was not. And the wakeup from the dream is hurting a lot.

49

Zamfir 06.05.13 at 4:48 pm

What kind of policies would you like to see from Europe? Do you think there is an alternative path that makes it possible to repair the Spanish economy now, and prepare it against a repeat? Higher targeted inflation, perhaps an acceptance of higher Spanish debt with European backing? Something entirely different?

50

Jesús Couto Fandiño 06.06.13 at 8:28 am

See latest Krugman’s blog entry about Greece – not that he is saying anything new, but thats a good summary of what I would want.

The problem is that at root, thats all we can do. Want. And beg. Our destiny is not in our hands, not even in the limited “choose your poison” way normal constrains do. We have to beg “Brussels” have a change of heart.

We are, basically, no longer sovereign countries. The illusion was that we were now “citizens of Europe”. There is no such thing. We are citizens of the irrelevant parts of Europe, and the shots are called by people that in the end dont have any reason for look as us as their constituency.

Hell if it is bad with our Spanish political class which is the perfect definition of “extractive elites” or “cleptocracy”, why whould I expect anybody else would have as one of their priorities the welfare and safety of Spaniards? Same for all the others.

51

Andy W 06.06.13 at 12:01 pm

Jesús Couto Fandiño @ 48: “We all loved the EU and the Euro over here. It was modern.”

That’s very much the feeling I remember here in France, a sense that we were boldly moving forwards. The problem is, we were stepping off the pavement into the road without a realistic plan for getting to the other side. For it to have worked, we’d have had to create a federal Europe, fiscal union and all, before the 2008 crisis hit; and the popular support for that just wasn’t there. (Easy to be wise in hindsight – I was strongly pro-Euro at the time.)

As it is, we got hit by the truck. Also, we still seem to be in the middle of the road.

52

Eli Rabett 06.08.13 at 1:52 pm

FWIW, compare the situation in Germany now with that in the 1960s/70s. Lots of Greeks and Spanish folk working jobs, esp in construction and factories. The Turks came a bit later as Greece and Spain prospered and those folks moved back.

Same thing in nyc, where Queens was chock a block full of Irish illegals, but again, as Ireland prospered, they moved back, and now back again

Moral of the story is that immigration is not forever. Even in the US before WWII there was substantial reverse migration.

An interesting thing wrt economically driven migration in the last few years is how many of those leaving come from families that have returned but still have enough contacts where the kids go to help them establish themselves

53

Barry 06.08.13 at 2:18 pm

“An interesting thing wrt economically driven migration in the last few years is how many of those leaving come from families that have returned but still have enough contacts where the kids go to help them establish themselves”

I believe that that’s the way it works, whenever possible, for obvious reasons.

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