Financial Crisis and the Remaking of the Society of Labour in Spain

Despite unified visions shared by the European left, deeply unequal realities subsist in the continent. Understanding the specificity of the Spanish situation within the current crisis requires considering at least two key issues: first, the decline of the society of labour in the 80’s amidst a general euphoria of democratic consolidation; and second, the role

Despite unified visions shared by the European left, deeply unequal realities subsist in the continent. Understanding the specificity of the Spanish situation within the current crisis requires considering at least two key issues: first, the decline of the society of labour in the 80’s amidst a general euphoria of democratic consolidation; and second, the role played by real-estate capitalism in the finanzialisation of the Spanish economy and in the survival strategies of middle and popular classes.

The monetarist grand coalition of the democratic transition

 The neoliberal counterrevolution is a class aggression against labour which had been accumulating ‘power resources’ (Walter Kopi) within two generations of fordist development. This can be quantified in terms of the share of wages in GNP, the degree of unionization or the decrease in working hours per week. In Spain this aggression is politically more complex as it has been part of the strategy of the centre-left engaged in building a Welfare State demanded by a predominant left-wing public opinion.
The dismantling of the Spanish society of labour cannot be understood without regarding a central fact: the building of a big coalition between economic liberals and late ‘francoists’ concerning economic policies. The former embraced very early economic liberalism as a strategic stance against what they took for a historically and culturally obsolete State interventionism. Paradoxically, although ‘francoist’ State was in fact interventionist in political and cultural affairs strongly relying on repression, since the early 60’s the economic policies were in hands of an extremely (neo)liberal elite trained in the USA. These groups were radical anti-state oriented and anti-collectivist well before Friedman and Hayek’s thesis succeeded in western countries. By the mid sixties, when the public sector already amounted to 30% of GNP in most developed nations, in Spain it remained at 12,5%, even three points below Portugal under Salazar’s dictatorial rule.
This convergence between the ‘atlantist’ USA-oriented sectors of late ‘francoism’ and the liberal Europe-oriented democrats consolidated monetarism among the Spanish elites even though admitting the need for a European style Welfare State. Such alliance was able to force a soft transition bloquing more radical changes in the critical years of democratic transition. Given this early (neo)liberal bias, the answer to the crisis of Fordism was the sacrifice of labour society replacing it by an economy which became highly dependent on finance and short-term foreign investment. The goal was to build a Welfare State but it was done without a productive foundation strong enough to make it sustainable in the long term (‘the finantialized Welfare State’).

Real economy and rent economy in Spain’s history

The relations between labour economy -that is, “real” or productive economy- and rent economy have a special significance in Spanish history. The enduring blockade of the country’s development since the early Modern Age has one of its main origin in the destruction of the productive classes and the strengthening of the landlords and rentiers. This process, named ‘refeudalization’ or ‘second servitude’, took also place in Eastern Europe by the same time ( 16th and 17th centuries). But it ha a special touch in Spain since the long wars against the Moslem domination ended in a loss of productive classes due to the expulsion of muslims and jews. The world of labour was weakened while rentier classes, military and aristocrats, were strengthened. Although precious metals flowing from America could not prevent the Kingdom’s bankruptcy, they allowed a long decline enduring until capitalism knocked at the doors in the 19th Century.
The Civil War (1936-1939) had a similar effect although in a very different historical context. The Second Republic had proclaimed itself as a “democratic Republic of workers of all classes which is organized according to a regime of Liberty and Justice” (Art. 1 of the Constitution of the Republic, 1931) and the fascist forces pursued, a part from the military defeat of the popular republican army, the very liquidation of a very radicalized working class, its orgnizations and cultural milieus, particularly those of the more qualified segments concentrating in the more developed provinces4. ‘Francoism’ received the support of (part of) the entrepreneurial classes and the totality of the rentiers. It was very aware of the political significance of labour in Spanish history, not only because of its strong republican militancy but specially for its capability of substantially changing the balance of forces between classes.
This historical background gives a special meaning to the monetarist coalition of the democratic transition. The early financialization of the Spanish economy and society brought an end to the short spring of labour hegemony during the early seventies causing a gradual return to the society of rents which became more and more dependent on international financial centers. The consequences of this are enduring. For example: accession to NATO, which happened during the monetarist turn of Felipe González’s second government, should be seen in this context. It is simply not possible to depend to such a large extent on the international financial system without complying with the political and military conditions imposed by the countries –USA and UK- ruling such system5. The ‘atlantist’ establishment has generously rewarded this contribution to their interests by the Spanish political class appointing many of its cadres ((Javier Solana, Pedro Solbes, Rodrigo Rato or the current Economic Affairs Commissar of the EU, Joaquín Almunia) to relevant positions in NATO, the economic boards of EU or the IMF. Since the mid eighties the relative weight of the financial sector and real estate, highly connected to the former, has been growing. The socialist governments refrained from industrial policy or any other active intervention in the country’s productive structures and promoted the sale of the most dynamic sections of public and private industry through speculative operations. On the contrary, a very active policy was carried out to keep national ownership of financial institutions rescuing many banks which had fallen victims of the banking crisis during the eighties and nineties and treating bankers almost as ‘shadow’ ministers. Their power has been crucial to consolidate the monetarist big coalition throughout the years.

Ugly capitalism

 The results of this attack on the society of labour and, by extension, on the country’s productive economy are also far reaching. First, quantity and quality of jobs and working conditions were downgraded in record time to the benefit of the less innovative sectors among the Spanish entrepreneurial class who reap their profits out of labour market fexibilization and dualization, inefficient energy consumption and cost competition instead of gains in value added or productivity. Second, the value chains have been split and scattered all over the territory through a very aggressive outsourcing policy. Third, employment is mostly generated in environmentally unsustainable sectors such as construction, mass tourism and car production. Road transportation has become a key factor for mobility in a spatially dispersed and scarcely planned framework. This pushes dualization of labour markets, consumes growing amounts of space per GNP unit, extends time of transportation to work and causes high levels of energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions8. It is not mere capitalism but ugly capitalism in the sense of stingy, meagre or scanty.
The model has resulted in an extraordinarily flexible economy very near to the ideal of an open economy as advocated neoliberal theorists. The country managed to reach a surplus in public accounts even in the presence of a chronic unemployment rate aroung 10% but miraculously succeeding in becoming the countries with one of the lower social expenses in the EU. It was also able to create in short time half the new jobs in the whole Europe between 2000 and 2006 albeit later destroying them even faster9. Here is the reason why Spanish openness, i.e. deregulation, is systematically praised by international financial organisms. As a result of low productivity linked to high consumption levels Spain has the largest trade deficit in the world: more than 10% of the GNP, that means double that of the USA (5.3%) and four times the Italian (2.5%). The most profitable public firms have been privatized in the 1990ies (Repsol, Endesa, Telefónica, Banco Hipotecario, etc.) following the shareholder value principle for being able to pay a couple of years more of a welfare state without a productive economy behind. On the other hand, the ‘nationalistic’ conflict, which has overlapped since the 19th century with the conflict between a rent economy largely dominating in Madrid and a more productive orientation in the Basque Country and – although recently to a lesser extent – in Catalonia, has hardened due to the early monetary coalition. It reached its zenith during the second term in office of José María Aznar causing an upsurge of secessionism in both ‘historical nationalities’.
Neoliberalism causes uncertainty, degrades quality of life and deteriorates the environment. But when there is no social majority capable of defeating it, popular classes have to develop survival strategies to accommodate. Neoliberals fully aware of that and adopt policies reinforcing adaptive mechanisms for gathering more or less passive support and retaining hegemony. The great contradiction within the Spanish left is that Welfare State was built up using the instruments of neoliberal orthodoxy. A substantial part of these resources are used in ailing the damage caused by the destruction of the society of labour, by the monetaristic politicy the welfare state is being built up with. In spite of its limitations, the financialized Welfare State has left a deep footprint specially in Health Care and Education. Both public services have experimented a revolutionary expansion particularly concerning female population. The long neoliberal winter cannot be explained without this fact.
The problem lies in the not sustainable welfare state created by monetarism for maintaining a unholy alliance between rentiers, unproductive entrepreneurs and a part of popular and working classes. Rising qualifications within a general decline of the society of labour sharpens the acute contradiction sleeping at the very foundations of capitalist society between a growingly educated workforce and the lack of democracy at the workplace. Millions of relatively skilled and well-educated young people in Spain have no possibility to get decent jobs and many cannot even become economically (and psychologically) independent until their middle or even late thirties. This gives rise to non-conformist attitudes as shown in recent mobilizations against the war in Spanish cities with high concentration of University students somehow resembling the protests in Greece. Temporary work contracts postpones the age of emancipation, cuts down the birth rate and turns unproductive the skills and education provided by the public system. This situation is being faced by the Spanish government with the excuse of the Bologna as it plans to make a reform of higher education curtailing the access of popular classes to the University Plan for reducing de offer of university graduates. The result will be the destruction of one of the most cherished achievements of the democratic transition with the excuse of the absence of demand of higher qualifications on the part of Spanish employers.
Another relevant factor which has favoured this lasting hegemony of the centre parties during the neoliberal winter has been the role played by real estate and the Spanish system of popular finances.

Real estate and popular finances

The subprime crisis marks the end of a worldwide cycle of productive and financial capital over-accumulation and the beginning of its more or less controlled destruction. Until now, the Spanish banking sector has avoided being dragged in the turmoil as in other countries. This has been received with unjustified optimism by Rodriguez Zapateros government, where the monetarists are hegemonic although some fiscalist dissidence is beginning to show as the crisis worsens12. Spanish finance’s particularities are twofold: on one hand, the Spanish banking system has managed to avoid the destruction of over-accumulated capital; secondly, the real economy crisis, which is resulting in very fast job losses, has preceded the financial one, just the other way round to what has happened in most developed economies.
This apparent firmness of the Spanish financial system has several reasons. First, the wreckage of Spanish economy between 1978 and 1985 pulled into bankruptcy 58 banks accounting for 27% of deposits and employment. 28 of these banks (concentrating 14% of deposits) were handed over to the Bank of Spain13. During the second great economic crisis in democratic times (1992-1993), which already partly connected to a the burst of a housing bubble causing a rise in unemployment up to 24%, one of the biggest banks, Banesto, went broke. Its bail out cost 1.1 billon euro provided by the FGD (Fondo de Garantía de Depósitos – Deposit Guarantee Fund). Later, the bank was sold at very low price to the now biggest bank, Santander. Out of these experiences the Bank of Spain increased the anti-cyclic risk prevention measures, surveillance was enhanced and the mandatory provisions for the FGD were raised well over the average levels in other developed capitalist countries. Even though the possibility of depreciation of these reserves in the current conditions does not allow for much optimism, it is true that these measures have momentarily safeguarded the system against the financial crisis.
A second reason for this apparent stability is the relative weight of the Savings Banks (Cajas) in the Spanish financial system. Savings Banks were created all over Europe for reducing life incertitude of popular classes (jobless women, minors, domestic servants, artisans and casual workers a.s.f.). In most cases Savings Banks became accumulation points for small capitals thus providing support to emerging capitalism and funding public projects. This was also the orientation given to the Spanish Cajas by the 19th century liberal governments. But they never managed to get full control over them as the Spanish State did not succeed in developing modern economic structures and capitalism did not spring up in larger parts of the country. The Cajas kept its original spirit of mutualism and remained strongly linked to local municipalities resisting all intents of subordinating them to big finance 14. Only after the Civil War it was possible to organize their ‘financial repression and the kidnapping of it social works by the State’15. Since 1985 the Cajas are almost the only economic space where the governing bodies are more or less democratically elected. Local and regional governments sent between 20 and 60% of the seats and even the workers’ representatives hold between 5% and 15% depending upon the region. Although the conservative party (Partido Popular) made some moves toward turning them into conventional financial institutions, for example allowing the issuance of ‘cuotas participativas’ (a sort of preferred stock), not even the political right dared changing their juridical nature and their strong relationship with local and regional interests. One main reason is the fact that they provide the opportunity for financing local party branches and conservative regional interests, a fact that lead to continuous cases of corruption. The 46 Cajas’ influence is not only large, but has grown in the last years. They concentrate 52% of deposits and employ 120.000 people in 22.400 branches, the most dense network of retail banking in Europe. This branch structure strengthens their share of popular and middle class’ deposits towards private national and foreign banks16: the ‘market’ has been unable to break this net, also showing in practice that private property is not more profitable specially if we account for the social profitability. This social profitability has been historically decisive for compensating the absence of a redistributive State until 1978 and even after.
This does not mean that the Cajas are immune to crisis as some government’s economists like to boast. They cannot be because they are not supported by a robust enough productive economy as, for example, in Germany. First of all, the lack of strength of the society of labour has make municipalities financially dependent on taxes and revenues from real estate development instead of other taxes based on productive sectors. Since local governments sit at the Cajas’ boards they have forced them to engage in financially and environmentally wild operations. Credit to housing activities has multiplied by ten in the last eight years while the net patrimony of the financial institutions has grown only two-fold. This can provoke a serious problem of insolvency as small and medium sized promoters begin to default. Symptoms are already quite evident: prices dropped by 20% and the stock of unsold flats is expected to raise up to 1.5 million by the end of 2009. Second, as Cajas cannot raise capital as easily as private banks they will be forced to rely on state aid sooner than their competitors. This is already happening (march, 2009): Cajas, both large and small, have used up to 70% of the liquidity facility provided by the Treasury. Third, many Cajas have relied on foreign finance through Mortgage Backed Securities and other instruments sold in European capital markets during the bubble years and this debt is reaching maturity from 2009 on. These credits will be probably difficult to revolve in the current situation; the subsequent defaults could spread to some European banks. Last, the FGD can be easily depleted if any of the large Cajas (Caixa or Cajamadrid) need to use this facility. In this case the supposedly exemplary Spanish financial system could easily fall also victim of the crisis. Spanish government has for some time been preparing public opinion for an eventual intervention in some Cajas. Some of them began merger processes after their risk rating was revised by rating agencies. Some experts believe that the situation of the Spanish financial sector can become even more critical than the American if housing prices keep falling. Smaller and medium sized Cajas have created an asset holding company for centralizing unsold property and avoiding a price collapse. Financial engineering with the balance sheet valuation of these ‘junk’ flats can also postpone the slump for some time.

Honeymoon between popular and rentier classes

The housing-plus-finance complex explains fairly well the current social and economic situation in Spain, historical origins and present vulnerability included. The thin welfare policies in Franco’s times in the absence of a social pact between popular classes and the privileged ones, and the latter’s’ radically anticollectivst ideology forced Spanish families to invest in real estate for more than five decades. Houses became more than a home: they were the main investment for popular classes, a decisive resource for long term life planning. Cajas, not private banks, channelled the largest part of popular savings to house purchasing benefiting municipalities and small savers. The crisis of the society of labour made more acute this dependence on real estate investments. The result is a quite unique situation: 90% of the families own their homes and 77% of these are fully paid-off. Price escalation and bubbles caused by the rentier classes have strangely favoured also sectors among the popular classes. High housing prices have not only postponed the age of emancipation for Spanish young ones but also have helped capitalizing Spanish households whose net assets amount to 500% of GNP. Real estate ownership became therefore a mechanism for compensating social inequality and degradation of the labour society. Real estate amounts in Spain up to 88% of non-financial wealth, the largest percentage in the countries studied by the UN University of Helsinki. This contributes to alleviate social inequalities without resorting on big finance in a country where labour society is under minima. The investment option based on real estate financed by Cajas instead of the option based financial products linked to private banks, provides families of popular classes a better security net compared to other countries with algo precarious labour markets such as the USA where financial assets play a more decisive role in families survival strategies. The ideological mirage caused by such a situation is evident. Solidarity networks among relatives and generalised property provide the collateral. Two thirds of the houses bought are second residences for investment, that is, they are intended to balance the lack of job security, so in case of foreclosure you can move to your parents’ second residence, nobody is thrown into the streets. The late constellation of prosperity forged a unique alliance between working classes and rentier ones thus aborting a promising cycle for the political left starting with the birth of Izquierda Unida in the late eighties.
But things have radically changed in the last months. Private debt has risen in sort time from 40% to 80% of GNP while the net assets backing that debt has fallen from 500% to 350%. This marks the end of real estate popular capitalism, the alliances between rentiers and workers.

The crisis of the historical monetarist block

Following a report by the prestigious Foundation for Social Research of the BBVA-bank, the drop in GNP is going to be the sharpest since the Civil War and unemployment will reach near 20% of total active population in 2010. It is the third time this much celebrated flexible entrepreneurial system contracts ruthlessly since the democratic transition. Zapatero’s government, clearly surpassed by the crisis as most of its western colleagues, is taking the same kind of measures as the latter. But the internal divisions among the cabinet are provoking a costly inaction which has already reflected in a loss in the recent Galician elections. The crisis dynamics has already demanded more radical anti-cyclical measures breaking with previously incontestable monetarist dogma and points to an eventual replacement of the until now almighty Minister of Finance, Pedro Solbes, for a more ‘Keynesian’ character. Public deficit is escalating and is expected to rise to 6% after the fiscal injection provided by the government burying Solbes’ voluntaristic inertia. Even family solidarity has its limits and there are already more than 800,000 households with all their working age members in the dole. Specially affected is the new class of self-employed of the construction branch who were key actors of the honeymoon between rentiers and popular classes. Most of these people are former salaried workers, used to be unionized and voted for the political left. The housing bubble turned them into micro-entrepreneurs and gave them the opportunity to climb in the social scale making them embrace competitive and privatising values. Their votes were decisive for the absolute majorities won by the neoliberal right in the coastal provinces (Comunidad Valenciana, Murcia, Málaga and Almería) and in the Region of Madrid. Their number have increased fast between 1999 and 2007 but since this last year they engross the ranks of unemployed equally fast25. They are the equivalent to ‘Joe the plumber’ in McCain’s campaign. In Italy their correspond to the 26% of selfemployed which lays at the core of the (new) electoral base of Berlusconi.
The ideological mirages produced by such this economic order are evident. The fragility of the society of labour pushes working class families to get into the real estate business in the same way in other countries they are driven towards financial gambling. This rent economy relies entirely on debt, on a short run mentality and in an ever-growing dependence on the financial sector. In Spain it is not the big private finance sector but the Cajas and this has provided some space to breathe until now. But this is over. The peseta could not stand up against speculation and indebtedness in the eighties but the launching of the euro and the low interest rates provided by the ECB made it possible again. The neoliberal European project has thus contributed to maintain the historical problems of the country reinforcing the monetarist alliance which took over the democratic transition.
Here lies the substantial meaning of the current crisis for underlying social and political dynamics. What is new is not the fast growth of unemployment, nor the intents of profiting on the conjuncture for worsening working conditions. This is the third time it happens despite all the labour market reforms supposedly aimed to reduce precariousness. Nor the financial crisis which already visited Spain twice in 1978-1985 and 1993. What is new is that the housing crisis could hit Cajas very hard and put an end to this very particular Spanish system of popular and regional finances. But even this does not imply the main change in historical trends. The real historical turn lies in the possibility of a generalized take over of international finance by States and the breakage of the class power of global finance. Spanish big finance will then loose one of its main supports and a substantial part of its power accumulated since the (last) defeat of the society of labour in the mid eighties. This will break up the monetarist historical block which lead the passive revolution of the democratic transition and will open chances for a new alliance based on rebuilding the society of labour. Until now, with Solbes in the cabinet, this has been avoided. While in France bank mergers and public money injections go hand by hand with a growing presence of the State in the management and in Germany a law has been passed allowing not only to nationalize banks but even to expropriate stakeholders, in Spain, as in the USA and the UK, the rentier class has not yet been cornered by other fractions of the dominant block. This is because the relative power of finance in the former countries is less than in the latter. In Spain the power of finance remains very strong reinforced by the monetarist big coalition and its honeymoon with popular classes. The crisis can weaken this power and this would be a very relevant historical fact.

A new historical block

The result is not fixed: not only the building of a new historical block but its colour, its internal balance are open to the future. For example: the extent of economic democracy or the use values and economic sectors lying at the core of such a reconstruction of the society of labour depend entirely of the balance of forces within this new block. An alliance between organized and unorganized labour, non-conformist sections of urban professionals -including the anti-globalization movement linked to them through family ties– and sectors of innovative entrepreneurs, could start a way to more ambitious goals in a socialist sense. But if this transformation occurs from the top downwards, as a new pact among political and new economic elites, even embracing the more conservative section of unionized labour, the outcome can be a passive revolution much in the fashion of what happened in western countries after WWII. Maybe this formula is in the minds of those politicians who are starting to rejected monetarist dogmas and now speak of refunding capitalism and a second Bretton Woods. In my opinion even if the Spanish left, afflicted by sectarianism and conservatism, becomes unable to lead a block as has been described, it will nevertheless be in a much better shape for regrouping in the middle term and taking another chance if the rentier economy is defeated. Provided, of course, the crisis does not end up in an extremely adverse situation as could be the case if the national conflict exacerbates or the extreme right gains substantial support. In any case, if the monetarist grand coalition breaks up it will be a historical step forward on itself and it will force a revision of the consensual map drawn during the transition of 1978, specially if the new block comes out as described. Among the issues which could be redefined we can point the State model, its democratization and re-legitimization apart from a new shared identity capable of bringing class issues before nationalistic concerns be there centralistic or peripheral. This could mean the beginning of the end of a historical problem which has always been very harmful for the Spanish left.
The creation of a new economic model based on the dignifying of labour appears to me as an unavoidable step in any strategy seeking more ambitious socialist goals or even an environmentally friendly transformation. It would be a mistake to think this can be achieved just raising salaries or lessening working time using traditional Keynesian demand policies. It is not just a matter of better salaries for the same jobs with little creative and none decisive content nor is it a question of better qualifications through public education without changing the very nature of these jobs. The question, at least in Spain, is to substantially enlarge the number of jobs enriched with decisive capacities and creative contents. This would give the decisive impulse to democratization of firms an economy. It is in this sense of democratization that the left should leave its print on the economic, social, territorial and ecological restructuring. If it does, it could lead a process culmination in stable majorities for making deep, and even revolutionary reforms.
Public sector supported and controlled by a dense network of civil organizations compensating the reactionary social networks controlled by Catholic Church, should act as a catalyst for this process holding the political leadership and generating a large part of the new quality jobs. It should also ally with the most innovative sectors of entrepreneurs including part of the Basque ones. They can be key allies not only because they are specialized in high added value activities or because of their collectivist traditions. They are also important for the Spanish left in its confrontation with the reactionary part of Spanish bourgeoisie, and for building a shared identity between centralistic and peripheral nationalism. Mass tourism and new house construction should loose their currently share in the branch composition of GNP. Renewable energies, specially solar-based, quality social services, education, R+D, must grow. Private banking should be subject to public control and to productive interests instead of acting only to the benefit of rentiers as a shadow power. In a similar ways houses must cease to exist as exchange values in a society with more a mucho more stable labour market and become affordable houses to rent with public guarantee. This would provide a powerful incentive to the emancipation of young people, raise birth rates and enhance total factor productivity. Civil society should improve its participation in the Cajas management making them more transparent and accountable. Growing employment and progressive taxes would foster municipalities’ financing setting them free from their dependency on real state. This would bring corruption as a generalized phenomenon to an end and lead to a more sustainable management of space.
But Spain has got another challenge: redefining its economic geography. Foreign markets should not be the major space for economic expansion but internal markets, mainly economic circuits based of joined municipalities. Municipalities and district are at the core of Spanish popular traditions. They make citizens participation more easy and facilitating the democratic engagement in public affairs. Distances between workplaces and residential facilities should be shortened, new sustainable transport infrastructures must be created. This will reduce energy expenses and greenhouse effect emissions, lower transportation time to work and make it more easy to conciliate work, leisure and family life. A full energetic restructuring recalls for a deep change in the residential and productive geography, a process lasting several generations and creating uncountable jobs.

Europe and the Spanish left

This project must be coordinated with other similar ones on a European scale. It seems difficult to succeed if other countries persist in their policies aggressively oriented at external surplus. Higher wages will not create jobs in Spain but in the productive centers in Europe, unless the other countries expand their own internal markets rising wages and cancelling neocorporatist strategies. Otherwise, current unbalances will grow even further. This is a serious challenge for the European left, including the Unions. A more concrete definition of a solidary European integration is needed: a better adjustment of trade balances and an abandonment of the neocompetitive projects currently cherished by the ECTU. This means that richer jobs must not only grow but also distribute better throughout all Europe. The largest part of the creative jobs are concentrated in a region running from the South of the UK, through Benelux, Northern France, the Rhine and Rhone valleys and ending in Northern Italy. This uneven concentration has consolidated during the past decades of neoliberal rule. A solidary project cannot be really articulated in Europe unless productive geography within the EU changes and important political, economic and technological decisions are pread among more regions. Of course this calls for a coordination of fiscal policies and other measures advocated by the European left for long time such as the strengthening of structural funds and the democratization of the ECB. The crisis generates centrifugal movements and a tendency toward protectionism. The left should reject them but this does not contravene the need of making more resilient local economic cycles. Cosmopolitanism and solidarity are compatible with proximity and a less exportation oriented economy.

Madrid march 8th 2009

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