Notes About the Economy in SPAIN

We just got back from 2 weeks in Spain–Barcelona and Valencia. my husband’s work reunion from an international job.

We had heard lots of doom and gloom stories about the Spanish economy prior to leaving. Well, from where we came from, Spain looked pretty darn rich. Well-dressed people, restaurants all full at night, clean nice cars, great public transportation and museums. We had expected to see homeless and groups of unemployed hanging around but it wasn’t the case.

There are huge numbers of ex-pats living along the coast, Spain has the highest percentage of foreign-born in the European Union–15%. But they sure looked like prosperous retirees. We were very careful about the Spanish reputation for high numbers of pickpockets. Sure enough, two of our party of 16 did get targeted.

It seems to me that we are all tied together now in a world economy. Spain looked like California, only better, not a 3rd world country. I got back home to my little town where 21% of the families live below the poverty line. Where the Salvation Army has run out of free food. Where I really do wish I were back in sleek, glossy Barcelona with the most beautiful buildings in the world, a legacy from the architect Gaudi.


FWIW: A few weeks ago I spent 8 days in California and the economy looked fantastic. The first three days I stayed at the Beverly Hills Montage for the 2012 Emmy Awards and then relaxed for an additional 5 days at the Montage Resort in Laguna Beach. I didn’t see any homeless people or encounter anyone trying to pickpocket me. Therefore, the economy in California is great.


Interesting views.My take is you cannot tell the economic status of any place just by observing the night life, cars driven around, beautiful buildings etc.
Since you were tourists you avoided the neighborhoods where the poor live.

True enough. But we were there two weeks and took trains, buses and a bunch of car trips around through villages as well. The last few days we spent in a small town with friends who have lived there for 30 years. They did not complain about crime, the poor, joblessness or any negatives other than too much local building going on.

So I am telling you that Barcelona, Valencia, and that part of Spain appeared to be doing alright.

My husband got a bad respiratory illness with fever and chills, so we tested Spanish Universal Health Service as well. He had to pay 105 Euros up front as a non-resident. He saw a doctor in a neighborhood clinic on a Saturday. Babies, seniors, and minor accident cases were also being treated. The doctors and nurses handled everyone and it took less than an hour. Our ex-pat friends said that they like their Spanish Universal Health Service. They are able to see a cardiologist and specialists as needed, important since the husband is 92. Their health care is good and it is affordable. And all Spaniards are covered.

When I came back home here and saw 4 homeless guys with signs on 1 street corner right there in front of our WalMart, it hit my eye. Hey, I didn’t see those guys in front of any Spanish supermarkets that I rode past in the 2 weeks we were there.

I just bet those WalMart homeless guys don’t have any health care coverage at all. Yet. Which they would have had if they were Spanish homeless guys. A clinic to treat their pneumonia.

So how do you evaluate an economy? Who has the better quality of life for its citizens? If you have high unemployment but good health care and infrastructure like cheap public transportation are you better off?

Travel does make you think.

My post was supposed be sarcastic. FWIW, The bailouts from the ECB and/or austerity measures haven’t even begun in Spain yet. That’s why things look rosey. Perhaps looking at Greece would be more indicative of what is to come?

Here is a great movie about globalization. It is very, very progressive. It is long and the beginning seems far fetched, but I urge you to watch it through to the end. I think you will like it.