Greetings from Barcelona! I haven’t been here since my parents brought me, almost 30 years ago and so much has changed, but much remains true to its rich heritage, part of which is also responsible for Spain’s economic woes.
In some instances the working day is around 9.30am till 1.00pm, with a couple of hours for a siesta post lunch, before recommending in earnest, unity around 6.30. In the world of pre air conditioning this makes sense, after all, it can be warm here. However, our home in Australia is significantly warmer, yet we manage to push through the heat, without an afternoon kip!
That said; a two hour lunch provides ample time for a good feed, something taken exceptionally seriously by your typical Spaniard, and why not given how outstandingly great the food is!
La Sagrada Familia
When I was initially shaping up my article, a poke at the work ethic and general slowness was the foundation. Take Guadi’s Cathedral, La Sagrada Familia, which is being built and not yet completed since 1882. How could it be taking so long – until you visit and realise why.
This is a country where unpasteurised milk is consumed in great cheeses, where fermented meat is not kept refrigerated and instead is simply hanging from stands in the markets air drying, and the vegetables are misshaped and taste like what we used to eat as kids. It is a country where the rule book hasn’t redefined the boundaries of what is pleasurable and what works.
And do you know something; just maybe the Spanish have actually got it right – where a nationalistic pride and emphasis on tradition is more important than the homogenised world that is called the West.
Now Spain is in the grip of horrific economic challenges – enormous unemployment, along with a property market that is decimated and with a dose of high government debt for good measure, much of which can be attributed to the country’s membership of the northern economy dominated Euro.
This is a dire scenario and hangs over the anaemic shopping landscape like a dark cloud.
The Euro Currency
And perhaps in conclusion, just maybe, all countries are not created to be the same. While on many measures the EU and Euro currency seem great, the disparity of culture, values and emphasis of what’s important, may just mean that the Euro is not going to be a long term success.
Europe’s last effort at unity, albeit driven by one country in 1939, did not end well. An economic rather than military attempt toward the same outcome may just end the same way, as Southern Europe is what it is, different from the North.
Prior to lower interest rates, cheap loans and more subsidies than you could shake a stick at, all designed to bring the South up to the North’s standards, things had been fine for the years. However, this allure was very compelling and only now, are its true costs being felt, in particular as a dilution of sovereignty.
In terms of the economics of it all, want to invest for commercial reasons, then pick a different market because what drives the economy here is very different to the rule book by which we make our decisions in Australia, Germany, the UK to the US.
To learn more about these strategies, click here.