La mayoría de los economistas, servicios de estudios y think tanks españoles piensan que las ayudas (fondos estructurales) recibidas por España de la Unión Europea (UE) han contribuido muy poco al mal llamado “milagro económico español”. Sin embargo la mayoría de los economistas no españoles piensan justamente lo contrario. Un ejemplo es el artículo que acaba de publicar hoy The Economist (Feb 10th-16th 2007) titulado “Buy, buy, buy» donde puedes encontrar un subapartado titulado «The gain in Spain”. Transcribo algunos párrafos textuales y me hago algunas preguntas.

«Spain seems to be unstoppable. Its main hunting ground has been Britain, where Spanish companies have spent more than $55 billion in recent years. The first deal was when a Spanish bank, Banco Santander, which at the time was little-known, swooped on Britain’s sixth-largest bank, Abbey. The latest deal in the works is the €17.2 billion bid by Iberdrola, a Spanish electricity company, for Scottish Power, a utility that includes nuclear, hydro and wind power in its portfolio. The highest-profile Spanish deal of all, launched last year, was that of Ferrovial, a construction company, for BAA, the company that owned the three main airports serving London—Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted—and six others.

So why is Spain emerging as such a successful predator? It has done well out of generous European Union aid since it joined the EU in 1986. Its economy has notched up an impressive average annual growth rate of 3.8% over the past ten years when the rest of continental Europe has lagged behind at around 2.1%. Membership of the euro has also facilitated cross-border deals. And the latest generation of Spanish business leaders has been educated in the ways of Anglo-Saxon capitalism at American universities rather than imbibing vintage mercantilism at some French grande école.

There are two further reasons behind Spain’s foreign expansion. One is a special law that allows companies to offset against tax 30% of the goodwill costs of any foreign corporate purchase. Goodwill means the difference between the book value of assets and the actual price paid. This allows Spanish companies to outbid others. The second reason is that Spain’s resurgence has been narrowly based on an inflationary boom in property, construction and banking. When that boom busts, the gain in Spain will turn mainly into pain. The intriguing question is whether the new conquistadores have borrowed and paid too much, or whether their new portfolio of (largely) British steady earners will save them from the worst when Spain itself turns sour».

¿Se torcerá la situación expansiva actual, tal como señala The Economist al final del artículo? ¿Cuándo? ¿En el 2008? ¿Que pasará con España cuando se pinche el boom inmobiliario y bancario que prevé The Economist? ¿Piensas que las ayudas que España ha recibido de la UE han contribuido sensiblemente al llamado “milagro español”?


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