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Tuesday, 22 September 17:57 (GMT -05:00)

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For investors: how real is the dissolution of Spain, how will this hit the EU and Euro?

World news, investments. The situation in Spain continues to heat up every day, threatening to lead to the dissolution of the country. And if it had not been for the honoured victory of “Barcelona” in the most prestigious European football tournament – The League of Champions, May would have had all grounds to be called “a black month”. In Russian words “may” and “drudge” sound very much alike; therefore, our ancestors used to believe that “one should not be born or marry in May, for you will have to dodge for ages” Now politics know that elections (usually held in the world in autumn-winter period) should neither be scheduled for May, for a similar to Spanish force majeure may occur.
Spanish problems, what “drudges” Spain, and what frightens investors?
If to believe the definitions in dictionaries, “to drudge” means to suffer, to feel grief and pain. In Spain, as explained by community trade experts of Forex Academy and Masterforex-V stock exchange trade in Western Europe, in May at least four problems, which cause a real headache not only for Madrid, but also for EU officials and numerous investors worldwide. These are:
1. Serious economic problems. It is well-known that the country has long been in “the black list” of most unstable economics of European Union (following Greece, Ireland and Portugal ). It has already moved to such condition that in May a number of experts claimed about the possible threat of default in Spain. It was already in March that Moody’s Investors Service lowered the rating of its state obligations by one stage – from “Aa1” to “Aa2” with “negative” broadcast.
The country’s rating is put under pressure by:
- slow economic growth. Spain happened to be one of the few EU countries, the GDP of which in 2010 continued to decrease – by 0.1%. It was only in the first quarter of this year that its economy increased, but only by 0.3%, which was mostly by means of export increase. Domestic demand, though, remains weak. Germany and France, unlike Spain, recover from recession much quicker;
- complicated situation at labour market.  The unemployment rate has exceeded 21%, which is the highest number among all developed countries in the world; therefore, almost ⅓ of the unemployed in EU live here. Shall it be mentioned that unemployment among youth amounts to 45% (!);
- thestatedebtloadrapidlyincreases. It is predicted that by the end of this year it increase from 62.85% GDP to 68.7%;
- in addition to all Spanish economic disasters, a scandal connected with “cucumbers-killers” burst. The sole rumours that they are imported from Spain and a hasty implementation of a ban on Spanish vegetables import by a number of states turned into a weekly loss of €200 million by local farmers.
2. complication of social atmosphere. The country is covered by an unknown to the country wave of massive protest against high unemployment rate, reduction of social expenses, increasing retirement age to 67, etc. Moreover, a so-called “Movement of May 15” embraced tens of thousands manifestants in more than 50 towns without any support of trade unions and parties. It is another week that sitting strikes at the square (local “maidans”) appear. In reference to this, media started to ask whether revolution has already spread to Spain. At any account, according to El Païs, events on May 15 shook the existing system;
3. political tension. It is first of all connected with recent local and regional elections. Socialistic party suffered the most shocking defeat for the last 30 years, having completely lost the elections to the opposing center-right People Party. This means that the country’s Prime Minister and the leader of Socialistic party José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero is under threat of early elections (the next elections are scheduled for March 2012). In addition to other problems, power shift on a local level threatens to increase the country’s budget deficit. The matter is that in Spain half of the country’s expenses are controlled by regional and municipal governments. As true local volumes are thoroughly hidden, it is only during power shift that the truth is revealed. It is exactly how it happened in Catalonia at the end of last year when at power replacement the budget deficit appeared to be two times bigger than it was officially claimed.
4. victoryofnationalisticpartiesin Catalonia, the Basque Country, and Navarre. It is known that at last mayor elections in Barcelona, which is, by the way, the second city in the country, for the first time in 35 years won a representative of moderate nationalists from the party “Convergence and Union of Catalonia”, whereas at municipal elections in the BasqueCountry and Navarre the convincing victory was won by a left radical party “Bildu”, which is considered a legal disguise of separatist band ETA. If in the BasqueCountry this was called a truly historic event, outside of it talks started about the unexpected consequences of entering the body of power by the party. It is obvious that all this strongly hits the central government of the country. It is no coincidence that right after elections the rates of Spanish obligations have literally flown up (reached 5.614%), and Spanish financial markets reacted to their results by a fall.
As a result, investors at world markets started worrying about the budget deficit of the country (9.3%, however, in 2009 it was higher – 11%), arose doubts about the competitiveness of its economy, the country’s paying capacity, and tourist attraction (earlier at the population of 47 million people it annually welcomed more than 50 million tourists). There is a threat that the cost of borrowings for Spain will continue to grow. Speaking about the dissolution of the country, for traders and investors it is always a force majeure, which results in a rapid outflow of investments from the country, heavy fall of index, stocks, and bonds rate. Taking into consideration the fact that Euro is Spanish national currency, the possible dissolution of the country can become a knock-out hit for the whole European Union. One should remember that Spanish economy is the 4th economy of Euro zone and the 5th economy of European Union. Let us see why Catalans and Basques are so outright and vigorous towards Madrid.
“Spanish boot” for Catalans and Basques: will they want to separate from Spain?
It is well known that “Spanish boot”, which is used to squeeze fingers & toes, limbs, and head, is considered one of the worst tortures. In such a case, can a similar manner of making policy, held by Madrid towards Catalans and Basques, be justified?
Let us start with the fact that Spain is extremely varied in terms of ethnic composition of the population; it is inhabited by 4 ethnic groups: on the one hand, predominating Spanish themselves or Castilians, on the other hand, so-called historic regions of Catalonia (16% of the country’s population), the Basque Country (5%), and Galicia (8%).
A considerable part of Basques and Catalans stand for the separation from Spain.
It is logical to wonder whether there are any grounds for such nationalistic state demands. Let us say at once that there certainly are:
Originality of these nations. Catalans or Basques will never call themselves Spanish, for they truly are original ethnic groups. The things that make them different from other nations inhabiting Spain are many:
- origin. For example, Basques is one of the most ancient nations in Europe. Even now nobody knows for certain what the origin of the Basque land is (some researches believe that their ancestral home was situated on the territory of modern Georgia, as their cuisine reminds Georgian to some extent);
- the Basque language is not only different from the languages of other Spanish nations, but also has to relatives in the whole world. It is called a relict language because Basques is the only nation in Western Europe that does not speak the language of Indo-European group. From this originates the Basques’ certainty in their ethnic purity and their language uniqueness. Besides, Basques have the highest predominance of negative Rhesus factor among all nations in the world;
- generalhistory. It is well known from the school history course that Spain was being gathered for ages and literally by pieces. Although Catalonia has never had its own statehood (it was dependent either from Francia, or from the Kingdom of Aragon); moreover, at the beginning of 18th century it was captured by Spanish army and became a constituent part of Spanish crown, Catalans themselves are absolutely certain of their more than millennial history.
As for the Basque Country, many analytics call it a foreign body that has for many centuries been warming itself sideways of Iberian Peninsula, as experts of Masterforex-V Academy explained, a solitaire in the body of Spanish Kingdom. Basques, having no single and stable statehood in the past, for many centuries did not subject to any ruler and did not accept anyone’s power. When in 16th century king Ferdinand of Aragon conquered the bigger part of IberianPeninsula from Moors, Basque provinces voluntarily joined to the united Spain. As a reward for such action they kept their autonomy:
* were for a long time called “special provinces”;
* kept their rights – fuertos (Basque liberties) – their own parliament, court, and currency;
* held military service only on their territory;
* never experienced countrywide mobilizations, etc. All this and much more formed the Basques’ sense of their uniqueness in relation to all other Spanish nations. However at the end of 19th century when Spain set the course for establishing the single Spanish nation, the Basque Country was occupied in Spanish troops, although it maintained tax incentives. Hispanisation policy over Catalans and Basques, held by Madrid, obviously provoked strong feelings and encouraged their nationalisms;
- peculiar character, customs, and traditions. Spanish are eager to speak about the quarrelsomeness of Basques, their tigerism, insolence, suspiciousness, impatience, temper, and even brutality. It is very demonstrative of many Basques to avoid talks on politics in their everyday life as much as possible maybe because very few of them can stand to calmly, without any fight, listen to an opposing view. Their character has for centuries been forged by complicated history and hard mountains, which required the traits of character that are different from the ones needed for a relaxed existence at a warm Mediterranean coast. However, these were the same mountains that taught forgiveness but not recentness, honesty and pride, sociability and cordiality in relation to a kind soul.
In general, the ground for their nationalisticstatedemands is the sole remoteness of this big nation’s residency on their historic land.
Repressions. During Civil War of 1936-1939 Basque provinces appeared at Republican side and, consequently, fiercefully fought against Francisco Franco. Franco, whose ideal was a single Spanish nation (“Spain is a single nation, a single state”), answered them with the policy of extreme centralization and assimilation: it was forbidden to publish books, newspapers, to teach in the native Basque language, to sing national songs, to dance to bagpipe, to wear national costumes, and to give national names to children. What is more, one could be sent to prison for a loud conversation in Catalan in the street or for a menu compiled in Basque, whereas a fine had to be paid for a traditional Basque “agur”, which means “good-bye” and other. Moreover, two Basque provinces were proclaimed by a decree “provinces-traitors” and “enemies of the Spanish nation”, which is an unprecedented occasion in the world legal practice. These were Basques who suffered most cruel repressions, for the sole fact that almost half of political prisoners were Basques is a sufficient proof. In other words, it is due to the “efforts” of Franco that a myth about Spanish occupation of the Basque Country finally gained its real implementation; he catalyzed and radicalized their national movement. This is how Catalan and Basque problem started in the modern meaning of the word. It is obvious that the logical consequence of repression regime became the creation in 1959 of Basque terroristic organization ETA (“Homeland and Freedom”). During the rule of Franco they were tough fighters against dictatorship, their heroic fight was logical, and they were widely respected and praised. Nevertheless, it is all history now.
WideautonomyofCatalansandBasques, whenbodies of the future state... are already created and work.
When the USSR dissolved in 1991, many analytics correctly prompted “the bomb” of federalism, laid by Lenin in 1922 into the organizational structure of the Soviet Union. The main point of it was that all 15 Soviet republics had organizational structure for their further independent development: own Constitutions, parliaments, flags, anthems, courts, MIA, media, bodies of local self-government subject to the capitals of union republics, etc.
A similar slow-acting bomb for the consequent dissolution of the country islaidin Spain inrelationtoCatalansandBasques. Currently Catalans and Basques have the biggest autonomous community in the country (in fact, a state inside another state):
- own government authorities: parliaments, ministries, and supreme courts; Basques even have their own police;
- high level of economy and economic freedoms. At present Catalonia and the Basque Country are the most highly-developed Spanish provinces, highly urbanized industrial regions:
- Catalonia has the highest GDP in Spain. Occupying the territory of one sixth of the country, it provides 23% of GDP. In other words, its level of GDP per capita is almost the same as in Germany. The share of Catalonia in foreign trade amounts to almost 27% of foreign trade of the whole Spain, whereas, if to speak about high technology export, it amounts to almost 35%. It provides half of chemical goods to the country, its Barcelona port is one of the largest in Europe (it can take in 1700 ships at a time), and its resorts are popular touristic sites for all Europeans. Finally, Catalonia is an important financial center, whose leading banks constantly and successfully rival with Madrid banks for the dominance at the world financial market;
- the Basque Countryis one of most economically rich regions. See for yourself. Occupying 1.4% of Spanish territory and having around 5% of the whole population, it gives around 10% of GDP and 16% of the country’s export;
- profit per capita in the Basque Country is twice higher than the average in the country.
By the way, if Catalonia disposes of 30% of income tax, the Basque Country – almost by all taxes, as only a small part of them goes to Madrid. It is obvious that Catalans and Basques believe, as former rich republics of the USSR used to believe, that they give much more to the “pool” than get, that they are the only ones who “feed” almost the entire country. It is logical that they are not eager to share income with Spanish. According to a number of experts, the independent state of Catalonia can enter the fifth of most economically developed European countries. All this increases the popularity of the idea of independence.
- culture, education. They have their system of medical care, education, culture, own radio and television. Their national languages have long been acknowledged official in autonomous communities; moreover, Catalan continues to put Spanish back more and more. Teaching in Catalan schools is often held only in the native language (a mixture of Spanish and French), without its knowledge one cannot be employed at any institution of the region, shops that have Spanish signs are fined, etc. In the Basque Country 4 hours per week is assigned for Spanish classes at schools, whereas in Catalonia this time is even less – it has recently been adopted that the time for studying Spanish is reduced to 2-3 hours per week.
In other words, no other nation in Europe without its own statehood has such broad autonomy as Catalans and Basques.
However, the fight continues. Some buildings in the Basque Country have such inscriptions on their walls as Tourists, remember! You are neither in Spain, nor in France, but you are in the Basque Country”. A question arises, “What do they still lack in life?” Why do they continue their fight?
Fear of assimilation. In addition to complicated history and Franco dictatorship, there is one more reason that encourages Basques to fight for independence; it is a fear of assimilation. The paradox is that all these economic incentives proved to be fatal for Catalonia and the Basque Country. As it is well known that any fish searches for deeper, and any person searches for better, immigrants from other regions of Spain massively went here. Therefore, by the time autonomous status was gained, 44% of Basque population was immigrants, and the Basque language was understood only by 36% of the population. Even today the Basque Country has the lowest percentage of population speaking native language (to be fair enough, it should be mentioned that the Basque language – Euskara – is extremely difficult to be learnt by strangers); to compare, in Catalonia native language is known by 80% of the population, in Galicia – more than 90%.
The matter is that Basques is a small ethnic group: from a little less than 2 million people who live in the Basque Country ethnic Basques compose less than half of the population, the rest are immigrants. It is a well-known fact that small ethnic groups are very vulnerable to minor demographic changes, and a million is a critical limit, which enables to maintain linguistic culture at least to some extent. In this reference, a quote of famous Bernard Shaw comes to one’s mind: A healthy nation is as unconscious of its nationality as a healthy man of his bones. When in community life the language different from the language of the titular nation starts to prevail, when your homeland continues to be filled with strangers more and more, when there arises a feeling of threat to the sole existence of ethnic group, there appears a natural defense reaction, intensifies the desire to maintain one’s peculiarities, in other words, to be separated. It is this threat of becoming an ethnic minority at their own homeland that troubles Catalans and Basques and encourages them to continue fighting. It appears that being a constituent of Spain they currently have not enough conditions for their national development. It means that even though the “Spanish boot” gained European gloss, it still remained a “boot”.
Good-bye, Spain?
At present moderate nationalists of Catalonia and the Basque Country strive for extended autonomy from Madrid, in other words, the status of cultural and political autonomous community as a part of Spain. In this reference, in 2005 Basque Nationalist Party suggested a plan of turning the autonomous community into “a freely associated state with Spain”, following the example of Puerto Rico relations with the USA. Puerto Rico is known to have its own, independent from the USA, court, constitution, government; it does not pay federal taxes, but regularly receives from the USA subsidies for the construction of roads, housing, and education. Catalans and Basques understand extended autonomy as:
- broadpoliticalfreedom, they want to depend as little as possible from the decisions of Spanish government. In this reference very demonstrative is the case with new Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia, adopted in 2006 at a local referendum. By this document Catalans were recognized as a nation, but in 4 years’ time the Constitutional Court of Spain declared they they could only be called a nation (a separate ethnic group) “in historical and cultural sense, without any legal grounding. In general, it was another time when Madrid announced that the only related to national development nation is Spanish and that is it. It is obvious that Catalan government did not accept this decision of the Constitutional Court. As a result, they are still having permanent infightings with Madrid concerning the powers of regional government;
- settingnationalsymbolicsequalto countrywide. In the meantime, Catalan separatists slowly eradicate all Spanish symbolics. They change Spanish emblem and flag into their own, burn the portraits of king Juan Carlos (like Catalans have no king), have forbidden bullfight as a Spanish amusement, but not Catalan, open their representative offices in different countries, which are more like embassies, etc;
- own citizenship;
- separate court system;
- fullautonomyintax collection, own tax service. Catalans claim that Madrid takes 10% GDP from them (as a comparison the USA is taken, where states pay only about 2.5% to the center), and that the money that remains is not enough for the region’s development. Barcelona wants to keep 50% of collected taxes to itself;
- own national teams in different kinds of sport, own Olympic team. By the way, Catalan football teams have lately started refusing more and more to appear at the field to Spanish anthem;
- controlovercustoms, etc.
FollowersofCatalanindependencedeterminedto strive for it by exclusively democratic and legal actions. In reference to this, three unofficial stages of referendum (in fact questioning public opinion) concerning separation have already been held in the region. It is worth mentioning that not many took part in the referendum (30%), but those who did not appear for the vote uniformly supported separation. In such a way gradually the idea of independence is introduced into the collective consciousness of Catalans, and the grounds for national referendum on independence are prepared. The referendum is supposed to be held not later than in 2014. At present the idea of independence is supported only by ⅓ of Catalans (about half of population is against), however, first of all, a year ago they were 19%, and secondly, we all well remember that in March 1991 on the territory of Ukraine 70% of voters supported the preservation of the USSR, whereas in just nine months’ time 90% of Ukraine supported its independence. It means that millions of people have drastically changed their views on key matters within a short time period. Consequently, it is very dangerous and insecure to make policy on mere questionnaires.
If Catalans strive for independence by a parliamentary way, there is a terroristic fight in the Basque Country. Radical nationalists – ETA (by the way, State Department of the USA and EU included ETA into the list of terroristic groups) – strive for creation of their state Euscadi by a formula 4+3=1 (3 provinces of the Basque Country + Navarre + 3 provinces of French Basque Country). Since 1968 about 900 people became its victims, more than 2 thousand were wounded. To be fair, let us admit that ETA is different from the majority of extremist organizations by “mild”, if they can be described so, terroristic attacks: as a rule, shortly before the explosion they prevent about a planted bomb, bombs have small explosive yield, in many cases there are no victims, and terroristic attacks are mostly directed at disagreeable to them politicians of different classes, officials, policemen, military servants, etc. In other words, mobilization of Catalans and Basques switched to a qualitatively new stage. It is not enough for them, as for Galicians, to preserve language, traditions, and customs as maintenance of their ethnic identity, their ambitions in many ways bear political character, they want state recognition of their nation. Madrid is absolutely against it.
Madrid: it is better to overkeep vigil rather than underkeep vigil?
Central power refuses to widen the autonomy of Catalonia and the Basque Country, whereas in relation to Basque terrorists the policy “drive out fire with fire” is held:
- government refuses to hold negotiations with followers of Basque independence, declaring that “all paths to a dialogue” with them are closed and that militants are to be finished. In mid 80-s it may come to a so-called “dirty war” – in the depth of secret services “assassination squads” (unlawful governmental anti-terroristic formations) were created, which shoot off those suspected of terrorism;
- several years ago declined a suggestion of Basque government to hold a referendum on independence; the Constitutional Court of the country preliminary recognized it as unlawful;
- Spanish government has more than once forbidden political arm to ETA,
- arrestsareheld. Only during the last year 60 members of ETA were arrested. Last years ETA felt strong attacks; it was left without a leader and seriously weakened. Currently there are about 500-650 political prisoners-Basques in Spanish prisons.
You will probably ask how this inability to compromise of Spanish government can be explained. This is explained by the following:
- notbeingaSpanishfederation (according to a Constitution, it is unitarily decentralized), it nevertheless entered the group of most decentralized countries in the world. The Basque Country also exercises powers, which are unknown to other Spanish regions. However, separatists’ appetites are constantly growing. Madrid fears that every new concession can be perceived as a weakness and will only lead to more drastic measures;
- fear of devastating chain reaction, full dissolution of the state on ethno-territorial basis, in other words, “Balcanization”. Spain consists of 17 so-called “autonomous communities”. Its dissolution will be fraught with socially-economic disaster;
- Madrid willfindithardtodowithoutthese territories, in which all basis of national economics is concentrated;
- such precedent bearsapotentialthreat for stability in the whole European Union;
- there is no urgent need of a dialogue. Sociologists indicate that there is no single opinion on independence in Basque community; it is approximately divided into 3 equal parts: one third – for independence, another third – for wide autonomy in Spain, and the last third – has no demands, as it is satisfied with the present state of affairs.
At the first glance, tough politics of Madrid has reached its aim. At the beginning of this year ETA declared a “termless and universal cessation”. It also declared that from now on it will strive for independence via peaceful actions, but it did not say a single word about cessation and ceasing arms. Government perceives it only as a tactical ploy, an attempt to win time, attain rest, recover strength, and then to continue armed fights. For the 50 years of ETA’s existing it declared cessation five times, but always continued again. Therefore, in reference to the main question “will Spain dissolute” it is worth reminding that broadcasts can be of two types: optimistic and those that come true.
Whatistheinfluenceof Spain on Euro rate and what will the rate of a single currency be? According to analytics of the Chair of In-depth Study of Trade System of Masterforex-V, Euro rate is recovering and it has already broken the resistance of 61.8% correction area of descending movement. This resistance was at the level of $1.4496.
According to experts, breaking this resistance can open the track to moving to $1.4504, and then to a bigger number of suggestions for sale in the area of $1.4515/20. Higher than this level are stocks. At present the pair Euro/dollar remains at the area of $1.4497.
The Editorial Board of “Market Leader” magazine holds a questionnaire in the traders’ forum: in your opinion, is Spain able to strongly influence EU economic stability and Euro rate as a whole?
■ yes, Spain is pulling EU to the bottom;
■ no, Spain has little influence on Euro zone.



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