Spain’s Economy – Back on its feet | The Economist

This is an excellent, must-read article from the Economist. Check it out!

via Back on its feet | The Economist.

As a result of structural reforms to Spain’s labour market, Spain is now growing strongly ahead of the Eurozone’s norm. Had the reformed labor market been in place earlier, some authorities claim that Spain’s unemployment levels would not have been so severe.

However, Spain’s pain fell mainly upon the young with temporary employment contracts, whilst older workers with traditional jobs have been more protected. Spain’s economic pain was triggered by a property crash, as result of dodgy banks and widespread corruption, countenanced by a socialist government that turned a blind eye and squandered a fortune on pet political causes.

Spain has taken her austerity medicine undiluted, which was prescribed by her creditors, especially Germany. For another insight into Germany’s own labor market reforms open this link.

In comparison to Spain, many other South European countries, most notably Italy and France, have not yet reformed their labor markets.

Personally, I believe that the protected status of some of Europe’s workers is not sustainable. If economic levelers don’t work, watch out for the political reaction, with polarization towards both the hard-left and the hard-right. In this context, I believe that the labor market reforms implicit in the German model are probably the least painful.


Opinion – New world of work: unease remains over German labour reforms –

This is an excellent subjective insight into Germany‘s labour practices since unification, published in the FT. It’s a must-read. Check it out!

via New world of work: unease remains over German labour reforms –

Personally, I’m not sure if Germany’s ‘mini-jobbers’ are any different from their UK equivalents on ‘zero hours contracts’?

Germany believes that German practice is a good model for the rest of Europe, especially Southern Europe, where rigidities in the labor market are responsible for poor competitivity  and negative jobs growth.

Of course, if you speak to a long-term unemployed man in France, he will have a very different perspective. He will probably speak angrily about ‘Le Scam’. It seems that in France, the long-term unemployed are faced with questionable jobs, whereby the likes of branded fast food chains, post a rate per hour but expect much more. The unemployed must, of course, go for interviews in France to preserve their unemployment benefit.

With increasing globalization and spread of neoliberalism from the likes of the International Monetary Fund, we have Anglo-Saxon, especially North American, labor practices becoming more prevalent in Europe – the new European ‘gold standard’ is the ‘mini-jobber’.

Of course, if you are a potential employee, the perspective is reversed and you will hang on to your union protection and prevailing legal protection. There’s a world of difference between permanent jobs with protection, and the world of zero hours or mini-jobbers. Even in traditional jobs, final salary pensions are becoming a rarity, unless you work in the public sector. There’s still enormous protection in the public sector but with savage austerity, it’s not quite as cosy as it used to be, certainly not in the UK and many countries in Southern Europe.

The trends are clear. Because of technology and open markets, there will be fewer and fewer jobs, especially for those without professions or highly specialized skills. Even for the most qualified, the competition will become more and more intense. Also immigrants will be ready to undercut the locals, turning up the pressure.

Lucky you if you are fortunate enough to get started on a conventional career, but the chances are that it will be prematurely curtailed, leaving you high and dry.

It’s time to take control. On this blog, John Gelmini and I have repeatedly advised people to re-skill, de-risk and look at alternative options.