In 1996, the Centre for Economic Policy Research published Economic Growth in Europe Since 1945, edited by Nick Crafts and Gianni Toniolo. At times like now, it’s supremely useful to remind oneself of the historical perspective. The chapter on Spain (by Leandro Prados de los Escosura and Jorge C Sanz) suggests the country’s story is one of sustained long-run underperformance.
The authors identify just two periods when Spain grew faster than other large economies: the 1960s, and the years from 1986-93. The former they attribute to a delayed post-war reconstruction, much slower in Spain than elsewhere because of the political context. The latter reflects structural reforms and access to European markets after Spain joined the EU. Over the longer period, however, there is only one of the comparator countries with a weaker trend economic growth rate than Spain – and that’s the UK. Uh oh – but at least we recapitalised our banks quickly.