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According to Yves Smith over at Naked Capitalism, Spain is in trouble, citing austerity-related political unrest in the capital, Madrid, and accelerating withdrawals from Spanish banks.

But it's not just financial woes that are rocking Spain; they have additionally sparked a move by Catalonia, the country's most northeasters province, to separate from the rest of Spain.

Despite some politicians trying to claim the contrary, Tuesday's (September 11th's] million-and-a-half-strong demonstration in Barcelona was a mass call for the independence of Catalonia. The obvious explanation for the high turnout is the devastating impact of Spain's economic crisis, which in the last year saw a further 800,000 added to the jobless. This has been accompanied by a political crisis exemplified by the "indignados" protests, in which one in four Spaniards participated.
Catalonian independence is by no means a new idea, but until recently, it had appeared to be resolved:
For the 40 years after [Franco's] victory [in the Spanish Civil War], expressions of Catalan-national identity were repressed. Yet by the 1960s a new Catalan movement emerged under the leadership of Jordi Pujol, who would become Catalan president when regional autonomy was restored after Franco's death. Pujol managed to align Catalan nationalism with the workers' movement and the Communist party – giving catalanisme a progressive identity.
....
Yet if anything, Tuesday's march seems to indicate that Pujol's Convergence and Union (CiU) – an elitist and conservative coalition – is now lagging behind the popular mood in the region. The party has taken no serious steps towards independence – but now the majority of Catalans say they would support independence if a referendum were called.
So how does this relate to austerity measures imposed by Madrid?  Recent moves by Catalonia for increased independence had been suppressed by the central government.  Moreover, as a relatively wealthy state, Catalonia has over the last few years experiences relative outflows of capital to the rest of Spain, yet Madrid has not invested in Catalonian infrastructure:
Despite Barcelona being an economic pole comparable to Madrid, a new high-speed railway network connected several other regional centres to the Spanish capital before reaching Barcelona. Unlike in the rest of Spain, Catalonia's motorway system has received almost no investment.
On the flip side, however, Catalonia has borrowed as much as 5 billion Euro from Madrid.  Madrid's apparent drive to reduce spending (therefore likely reducing further loans to Catalonia) appears to have induced Artur Mas, president of Catalonia, to call for snap elections November 25 (for regional parliamentary seats, two years ahead of schedule).
The vote is widely seen as a de facto referendum on his demands for greater independence for the region after Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy last week rejected proposals for a new fiscal pact which would grant Catalonia greater taxing and spending powers.
"The time has come to exercise the right to self-determination," Mr Mas told the regional parliament in Barcelona on Tuesday.
"We do not have to justify who we are. We want the same instruments that other nations have to preserve our common identity," he said.
 This is no small matter; Spain has the twelfth largest economy in the world, and the fourth largest in the Eurozone, and Catalonia accounts for roughly a fifth of that output.  This is no Greece in trouble.

Predictably, Spain's central government has pushed back, and Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria warned that there could be no independence referendum without the rest of the country's permission, and that "the state would use every means at its disposal to stop the move," while Secretary General Dolores de Cospedal warned that the central government would use "anything it could to halt the 'illegal' vote."

Imagine for a moment a California or New York threatening to secede from the United States because the federal government was mired in debt and forced Californians and New Yorkers to send more tax dollars out of the states than they receive back?

What is clear is that countries'--and the Eurozone's--insistence on making overleveraged European banks whole through sovereign indebtedness is having unintended consequences.  One might have contemplated austerity as a first-line response by financial elites used to having others bear the pain of downturns, and some social unrest as a result.  However, Spain appears to be facing amputation.  One can easily then imagine that Spanish debt would be almost impossible to sell in the bond markets, making the lives of other Spaniards that much more miserable.  If Catalonia truly does split from the rest of Spain, perhaps Europeans as a whole will start to realize that banks are easier to sacrifice than countries.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Catalunya has wanted full independence (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TheOrchid, basquebob, Sue B

    for a long long time. They have been their own nation before, and there's no reason that they can't do it again.

    Bankster trolls notwithstanding.

    The "extreme wing" of the Democratic Party is the wing that is hell-bent on protecting the banks and credit card companies. ~ Kos

    by ozsea1 on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 10:18:23 PM PDT

    •  Catalonia never was its own self-governing nation (11+ / 0-)

      Not in any practical sense.

      Catalonia certainly has its own identity. But so what? The same can be said of pretty much any freaking square foot of land in Europe. Every piece of rock over there has recorded history backing it. Europe as it exists is OLD. Not as old as China or India, but it's really, really old.

      But the last time there was such a thing as Catalonia as a independent political entity was from the very last years of the 10th century to the early 12th century, when it was finally united with the Kingdom of Aragon.  And during this period, it was not so much a nation nor a state in any remotely recognizable sense but a Frankish fiefdom whose fief-holding vassal refused to recognize the suzerainty of the post-Carolingian succession in Western Francia and got away with it.

      I know there are people out there who try to use books written anywhere from 500BC to 700AD as literal (and competing) land titles. But invoking 900 years old feudal history as a manifest, relevant and actual claim to self-governance doesn't cut the mustard.

      I deal in facts. My friends are few but fast.

      by Farugia on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 11:18:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Catalans that I've spoken to would disagree (0+ / 0-)

        What would be defined as a nation-state today is through our modern and more "enlightened" perspective.

        If it pleases you to think as you do, knock yourself out.

        Historians can agree to disagree, no?

        The "extreme wing" of the Democratic Party is the wing that is hell-bent on protecting the banks and credit card companies. ~ Kos

        by ozsea1 on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 11:33:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Of course ! They don't want to pay the bills ! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          svboston

          That's a great motivation to become creative, including with history.

          But the story of 'independent' Catalonia is very recent. It dates back to the last years of the Republic, the Spanish Civil War and opposition to the Francoist regime.

          And the fact that Catalonia historically had some degree of autonomy is nothing special to Catalonia. It has been true of pretty much true of every region in Europe, for very simple reasons, the very same ones that made a federal structure the only practical one for the US when it was created and when the fastest ways to move around were horses on unpaved trails and riverboats.

          I deal in facts. My friends are few but fast.

          by Farugia on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 11:53:49 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  In the US, Blue states send more money (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            basquebob

            to the federal gov't than they receive.

            Maybe Catalunya is getting tired of sending more euros to Mardrid than they receive.

            Re-read the diary.

            The "extreme wing" of the Democratic Party is the wing that is hell-bent on protecting the banks and credit card companies. ~ Kos

            by ozsea1 on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 12:11:02 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Your headline is patently false and sensationalist (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ozsea1, Jane Lew, ActivistGuy, svboston

            They do want to pay the bills, but they want to pay their fair share and they have said as much. They are fed up with not having more of a say so over their own destiny. Just to elucidate, some of the regions of Spain that have 10 times more people in the public payrolls than Catalunya, while Catalunya is one of the main economic engines of Spain and at the same time Catalunya is having to implement much more brutal cuts than regions it literally supports economically, Extremadura is a good example. This is an abject failure of Madrid's central government to administer the country in a more equitative and sensible maner. Your headline sounds like it came straight out of one of Spain's right wing rags which they abound.

            "The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie -- deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." -John F. Kennedy

            by basquebob on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 12:12:19 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Catalunya is still in a different economic (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              basquebob, ozsea1

              league to Extremadura -who would probably love to have 50% of Catalunya's income.  You can't expect the same cuts everywhere in nominal terms.

              But the urge for self determination is strong in Catalunya and who is to blame them?  A right wing government in Madrid won't be sympathetic, and will not be helpful in truly keeping Spain together.

              •  Nor that is what I argue, (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ozsea1

                It is an observation and a chief complaint in Catalunya. Nevertheless, I will make this argument: over many years the Madrid government along with some of the regional governments has grossly mismanaged the wealth and the loans and grants to Spain. Rather than using that wealth to educate and seed new industries and technologies, it used the money to create a network of political cronies and nepotists. These has led to huge imbalances and as we can see now to an unsustainable system. It is a harsh argument to make and one with which I find myself ill at ease, but this is what is happening in Spain: 60% of the working people in Spain take home a 1,000 euros or less a month, consumption of pharmaceuticals has fallen by 20% so far this year and most of that is due to dacronian measures by the government and the elderly are the most affected by this. And while all this is happening you have politicians, as it happened recently, complaining that they can't make with 5,000 euros a month. This is what the Catalonians, and others mind you, are seeing and that is what they are fed up with.

                "The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie -- deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." -John F. Kennedy

                by basquebob on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 09:04:15 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Points all taken. Other regional examples exist: (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              basquebob, ozsea1

              I recall people in the Savoy region of France (Eastern Alps from Switzerland south to Provence-Nice area)pointedly remarking that they've only been part of France since 1860 after annexation under the Second French Empire.  And a rather long, convoluted history before that - protected by the Habsburgs, a separate Kingdom of Savoy, Savoy-Piedmont, etc.

              Don't start with the Isle of Man, or the Bretons, or pick any former duchy throughout Germany, or the various Italian states, etc.

              We have it a bit easier her in N. America - - only Quebec and Texas to deal with, arguably (though the former may be a lot more in earnest than the latter, we hope).

              Peace.

              Torture is Wrong! We live near W so you don't have to. Send love.

              by tom 47 on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 08:38:52 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  And Finland was "just part of Sweden" for (8+ / 0-)

        500 years, and was never anything approaching a modern Nation-State prior to that.

        But Finland is a Nation today.  Even the USSR had to cede that point.

        Ireland was never a nation truly under any central government prior to Cromwell, and then spent 300 years entirely under English domination, but Ireland is certainly a Nation today.

        History didn't stop last Tuesday.  It's still being written.

        "How dare you call someone a warmonger just because he's paid to sell war?"

        by JesseCW on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 11:38:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The Fins did what sovereign nations do (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          valion, semiot, TheOrchid

          They fended off for themselves without asking for anybody's permission, arms in hands against the Soviet Union and the Devil by their side. And they succeeded and they paid dearly for it, by the way.

          But this is not the issue with Catalonia.

          The issue is that sovereignty is not something you ask. Sovereignty is something you take ... if you have the balls. The Fins had the balls. The South Sudanese had the balls.

          The Slovaks also did it. And if Vladimír Mečiar has any qualities as a person, it's a huge mouth and big, very big balls. And much to his surprise, the Czechs quickly said "Oh, fuck it! Fine. Be your own country and have a good day" (leaving the Slovaks to look a bit silly with their brand-new sovereign state).

          The Catalans? Not so much.

          In Catalonia, the issue is that you have a bunch of ambitious politicians who've wanted for the longest time to cut themselves a little fiefdom of their own at minimum cost and no risk, by agitating vague identitary resentments and then crying that it is their God-given/historical rights, if needed by spinning their own version of history and proclaiming the self-evident exceptionnality of the Catalan race.

          And by the way, the last elections of the Cortes and the success of the PP was not just happenstance, regarding the Catalan situation. In large parts, it was residents of other regions telling the Catalans "not so fast and fuck you too. You don't get to go with the butter, the butter's money and the milk maid on top of it." The PP campaigned on that and they delivered.

          And the current situation is that Madrid (and the rest of Spain) said no.

          Fine. If the politicians in Barcelona really want their independence, it's up to them. They can set up their own courts. They can set up their own banks.  They can set up their own army. And they already have their own police and their own parliament, so that part is already done.

          And if they can convince residents to stop paying their taxes to Madrid, to refuse to enforce judgements from Madrid, to refuse to serve in the Spanish Army and instead to pay their taxes to Barcelona, to only put their money in Catalan banks, to only acknowledge the courts set up in Barcelona and to only serve in the Catalan army, victory! There will be very little Madrid will be able to do. It's not like they are going to resuscitate El Cid to take on those unruly Aragonian vassals :-)

          But it takes balls to do that.

          And more importantly, it takes a real sense of a truly independent identity among the population for this to succeed. And they don't have it, even after 80 years of spinning their made-up exceptionalism and of whining and moaning against Madrid.

          Now, it the Catalans who think very highly of themselves actually do it and pull it off, I will be proven wrong and so much the better for them.

          But, in my opinion, right now, it's just a bunch of pampered politicians and a population who suddenly doesn't want to pay the bills, now that they are stacking up a bit too high.

          It makes me think of the situation in Belgium between the Flemish and the Walloon. The Flemish want to split the welfare system between the two regions but they want to keep the retirement system in common. Why? Simple. The Walloon are poorer and younger and have higher welfare expenses. But the Flemish population is  older so if they try to run their own retirement system, it will blow up in their face. And of course, the Flemish couch the debate in grand principles and matters of natural, obvious rights of ever-existing nations to self-determination. What a load of BS :-)

          I deal in facts. My friends are few but fast.

          by Farugia on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 12:52:25 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  so if Texas wants to leave (0+ / 0-)

            its up to them and the rest of the US won't say anything.....

          •  You are entitled to your opinion but not your own (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            TheOrchid, JesseCW

            facts, and let me say that I agree with some of what you say, but the statement in the blockquote shows a complete lack of understanding of how the political system works in Spain:

            And by the way, the last elections of the Cortes and the success of the PP was not just happenstance, regarding the Catalan situation. In large parts, it was residents of other regions telling the Catalans "not so fast and fuck you too. You don't get to go with the butter, the butter's money and the milk maid on top of it." The PP campaigned on that and they delivered.
            Yes the PP is the majority party in Spain but it has always been a distant third and fourth party in Catalunya, always. Check it out for yourself. Facts are facts.

            And your interpretation that the PP won the last elections to the Cortes, in a big or small part, because of the Catalonian issue is laughable. Rajoy ran a campaign against Zapatero and the PSOE promising spaniards that he had the "magic" solution to all of Spain woes and that the markets would react so positively to his election that Spain's problems would disappear overnight. So for you to even insinuate that the Catalonian issue played a big role in the last general elections is pure fantasy. The basque issue and how to deal with a post-armed conflict ETA and how to deal with ETA prisoners played a much bigger role in those elections and even that was kind of a side-note in those elections because the issue of the day was the full blown economic crisis in Spain.

            As for your interpretation of why the Cataloninas want to become independent, it is purely your opinion and many Catalonians would beg to differ with you. In fact, you are making the argument that the PP makes.

            And last, this doesn't jive

            by agitating vague identitary resentments and then crying that it is their God-given/historical rights,
            There is nothing vague about Catalonian identity. Since the XIV century when the king of Aragon started persecuting Catalan, the Catalonian language, until the Franco years many have tried to suppress and outright destroy their language and therefore their culture. So when you say "vague identitary resentments" it flies in the face of reality and history. The fact is that the language and the culture has endured against great odds, not a small feat, perhaps because those "identitary" feelings were not vague or week, as you argue, but because they were strong and present.

            "The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie -- deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." -John F. Kennedy

            by basquebob on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 10:08:43 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Independent Catalonia (4+ / 0-)

        wasn't a kingdom (as you note) but a County, originally as a fief of the Carolingians but declared independence with the rise of the Capetians. Not all independent polities have to be kingdoms or nations, and the long decay of the Carolingians meant that they were running themselves effectively independently well before 987. I wouldn't say "finally united with Aragon" so much as "married into": a Count married the 1 year old Princess of Aragon, a Kingdom no more powerful than the County. The Counts now labelled Kings became more and more Aragonese and dragged Catalonia further and further into the Spanish world, and 300 years later Catalonia would be trying to break off from their now fully Aragonese king.

        But Catalonia has had issues with authority -- whether that's Cordoba, Paris, Zaragoza, or Madrid -- since at least the 770s, when the Muslim governor of Barcelona (along with those of Zaragoza, Huesca, and Girona) asked Charlemagne for help getting rid of the Syrian Abd ar Rahman. That was of course a complete fiasco -- best known in the west in exceedingly wrong-headed form in the Song of Roland.

        They've been trying to break off for 1200 years, on-again, off again (mostly), but have never been strong enough to do so. I don't think they're strong enough now. But if they do an Iceland and refuse to kowtow to the banks, maybe they'll ultimately come out the stronger.

      •  It is true that one of the worst arguments (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Farugia, semiot, ozsea1

        that can be made for independence is ancient history, nevertheless it is one of the most common arguments made.

        But the question is, does a culture have a right to constitute a nation? What constitutes a culture? Is language not a strong enough of an attribute for diferentiation? Is Catalonia culturally different enough from Spain or not? Do Catalonians have a right to self determination as a people? Why Catalonians don't and East Timorians do? And if history is not good enough for Catalonians, why do others want freeze history under today's boundaries? Don't Catalonians have a right to make their own history as much as others have that right?

        "The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie -- deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." -John F. Kennedy

        by basquebob on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 12:35:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  So my comment above. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          basquebob, valion

          Is sovereign the one who says so and is ready to defend it, by hook, by crook, by war, by negotiations, by third party pressures (like the Tibetans are trying, bless them), by mere neglect (Somaliland), by driving the other side just plain fed up (Slovakia), etc.

          It has nothing to do culture, with history, with religion, with anything. It has to do with facts on the ground and a population willing to back it up.

          If Catalans want their sovereignty, it's up to them. No one else. And certainly not Spain.

          I deal in facts. My friends are few but fast.

          by Farugia on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 01:02:42 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I am all for Catalonian independence (7+ / 0-)

      but for the sake of accuracy, Catalonia was a kingdom centuries ago and as the rest of the kingdoms of Spain there have always been many alliances and change of alliances. It is true, as other regions of Spain, that they have preserved their own language and their own character. Today, as per recent polls, maybe 50% are for independence and the number is and has been increasing over the years. This crisis and how the central government is handling it might prove to be the catalyst. Regardless, the resistance from both in Spain, many in Cataluya, and even Europe will be great. This is already being spoken about quite openly in Brussels and other European capitals and my reading is that many efforts will be made to quash it. Hopefully the Catalonians will get to decide for themselves but it is going to be quite a fight. Just look at the Basques, specially over the last 35 years, and it will give you a pretty good idea of what the Catalonians are facing.

      "The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie -- deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." -John F. Kennedy

      by basquebob on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 11:36:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's interesting to compare Spain and France, (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        basquebob, PeterHug, ozsea1, TheOrchid

        and their histories of uniting a number of diverse kingdoms/regions/fiefdoms, and how they both have gone about it.  Also note the linguistic, cultural, and other unification (or lack of it) in both countries.  I'm thinking of the "modern nation-state" period of the last 200 years or so.

        Neither one has done it "right" or "wrong", but the results are interestingly different.  To this day, I'd argue that the French have a stronger, more homogeneous, united national identity than the Spanish.  

        But there are good reasons for it: oppression of regionalism, with some compromises, in France, but with a pretty clear idea of the supremacy of the French state (kingdom, empire, then republics), its language, culture, centralized power, etc.

        By contrast, Spain's history wound up with somewhat different results, in no small part due to the fascist period between the World Wars, but going back further.  The country never fully abolished the monarchy and royalty in the way the French did, with, I would argue, different results (among many other reasons).

        Torture is Wrong! We live near W so you don't have to. Send love.

        by tom 47 on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 08:49:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Your observation is very good (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TheOrchid

          and spot on as insofar that can be made in a short comment.

          "The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie -- deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." -John F. Kennedy

          by basquebob on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 09:27:27 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well, thanks! IANAH (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            TheOrchid, basquebob

            just an urban planner with an abundance of liberal education, including the nationsal languages of the two countries (which helps one read stuff in the original).

            My Provençal, Occitan, Breton, Euskadi, Catalans, and Gallego are thin to non-existent, however!

            Torture is Wrong! We live near W so you don't have to. Send love.

            by tom 47 on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 09:46:31 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Euskera is the language, Euskadi or Euskal Herria (0+ / 0-)

              the country.

              "The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie -- deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." -John F. Kennedy

              by basquebob on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 10:22:41 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Well, crud (0+ / 0-)

                Leave it to a Basque to correct me.  See, I told you it was thin...

                I always learn something here.

                Eskerrik asko ( I cheated!).

                Torture is Wrong! We live near W so you don't have to. Send love.

                by tom 47 on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 11:58:21 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Ezer gatik, you're welcome. n/t (0+ / 0-)

                  "The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie -- deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." -John F. Kennedy

                  by basquebob on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 12:17:58 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

  •  Yeah Catalonia is kind of economically (5+ / 0-)

    progressive and therefore has higher outputs than the rest of the nation.  Spain would asplode.

    Romney/Caligula 2012!

    by sujigu on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 10:18:35 PM PDT

  •  Independence may be a good thing (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TheOrchid, basquebob, gulfgal98

    for the Catalans psychologically but they cannot hope to escape the serious economic consequences of gaining it. It's not like they get to walk away from Spain's national debt; it's theirs too.

    For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

    by Anne Elk on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 10:52:55 PM PDT

    •  True (4+ / 0-)

      but they are in much better position to deal with it if they have control over their own finances. Just look at how the Basque region and Navarre are doing compared to the rest of Spain. The main difference between these two regions and Catalonia is that the Basque and the Navarrans have much greater control over their finances. In fairness, and no one should dismiss this, is that the largest market for the Basques, Navarrans and Catalonians is Spain. Then there is also the issue of solidarity. If Spain could get rid of its endemic corruption we wouldn't be having this conversation. In many levels it is very sad because many of the people in Spain are very nice and very generous but its leaders and the oligarchs are the worst.

      "The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie -- deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." -John F. Kennedy

      by basquebob on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 11:48:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  A Romney connection too! (10+ / 0-)

    In looking over Romney's taxes, I found a couple of curious references to CLOs and CDOs, i.e. Collaterialized Loan Obligations and Collaterialized Debt Obligation. Whatever the minor difference, it was obscured in a CLO Agency that handled CDOS.

    Romney owned interests in outfits called Bryant Park Capital CDO #1 and Alpstar Capital CDO -- some Alpha numerics to indicate which one, but then these weren't sold to just anyone. And you'd have to go to the Dublin stock exchange to buy a piece of a very complicated structure called a Master Feeder organization.

    The Feeder organization in the Cayman Islands handled all of the actual CDOs or whatever and collected all the payments due to them. The Master in Geneva owned the feeder but it didn't receive the interest payments, instead it owned equity which incorporated the interest which miraculously became capital gains after so many years when the units were cashed in with all interest payments as part of the disposal price. Sound fish. It was.

    The other funny thing was that Alpstar, which had been involved in subprime CDOs which were high risk and backfired on many, causing the housing collapse in Spain and other countries and destroyed pension funds.

    Oddly, the Alpstar fund that Romney was invested in  specialized in snapping up the distressed companies and properties in Spain left destitute by the financial collapse. So, to be put it crudely, Romney was deeply involved in these and other Goldman Sachs interests that helped create the problems -- and then sought to take advantage.

    On the upside, assuming it wasn't just typical wealthy harvesting of losses, Romney managed to lose 2.9 million in 2011 which helped bring his tax rate down and it looks less like a real loss but one which was booked and harvested for tax purposes.

    He's a disgrace.

  •  This diary gives a good account of (13+ / 0-)

    a very important part of what is happening happening. If I may, to add some context, during the negotiations for the 1978 Constitution the Catalonian representatives in those negotiations made a big mis-calculation. They could have opted to a similar self financing regime as the Basques and the Navarran's opted for. At the time due to the economic conditions in Spain it did not make much sense but in the long run, and Mr. Pujol was warned about it by his peers in Euskadi and Navarre, Catalonia would have had much more control over its economic destiny. Move forward a couple of decades. In the mid two thousands the Catalonians reformed their Constitution, or Estatutos as they are called in Spain for the autonomous regions, the changes were aproved in the Catalonian parliament, then by popular vote and finally in the Spanish parlament. Nevertheless, the PP, the right wing party in Spain and the current majority party although they were the minority party when all this was happening, was adamantly opposed and made a legal challenge that went all the way to the Constitutional Court in Spain. To add some more context, the courts in Spain are very slanted to the right and one of the biggest complaints in Spain is how the courts are one of the last remnants of the Franco regime and how capricious and arbitrary they can be. I know we complain about our courts here many times but compared to Spain our courts are close to Nirvana. Anyhow, continuing with the legal challenge, the Court took forever to decide exceeding the legal time limits by close to a year, and the verdict they produced was a charade. The Court basically took it upon itself to basically rewrite key components of the new Estatutos rendering the document useless and not even a shadow of itself.

    Move forward to the last few months. The Catalonians have been demanding a new economic arrangement with Spain, more in line with what the Basque region and Navarre have, and really more realistic with what is expected of them. In the meanwhile, nationalistic sentiments have been growing in great part driven by the dismissive and condescending attitudes of Madrid. The central government, particularly under the current administration, has been very dismissive and outright taunting the Catalonians. The day of the Diada the Catalonians shock all of Spain, that's the day of the 1.5 million people march. Everyone in Spain at the government level goes into reactive mode. Not only that 1.5 million come out to the street and it is, arguably, the largest  march ever in Spain, but 20% of the population of Catalonia marched that day.

    In the next few days Artur Mas goes to Madrid to offer Rajoy a deal and Rajoy in turn offers a few crumbs back. That's the straw that broke the camel's back. The rest is very well represented in the diary.

    Also, a bit of news, the Spanish government announced today that the austerity measures are failing and whatever savings have been achieved are being consumed by the speculators betting against the Spanish bonds, surprise, surprise. The expectations is that tomorrow after the markets close and the Cabinet meets, the government will announce that they will dip into the Social Security funds and all hell might break loose. We will see.

    "The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie -- deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." -John F. Kennedy

    by basquebob on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 11:16:16 PM PDT

    •  Of course the austerity measures are failing. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ozsea1, Swoof, basquebob, Odysseus

      They could not possibly succeed...I can't believe that Germany doesn't realize that.  The austerity measures imposed on all the hurting economies only impose greater hurt.

      As I wrote above, No nation ever CUT its way out of a deflationary spiral.

      To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

      by Youffraita on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 11:25:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Wow. Thanks for the additional info. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      basquebob, ozsea1

      And here's hoping that somehow things get resolved for Spain, and for Spaniards.

      The road to Hell is paved with pragmatism.

      by TheOrchid on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 07:57:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  IIRC, NYS every year (8+ / 0-)

    sends more taxes to D.C. than it gets back in federal funds.  New York is a maker...and red states are generally the takers.

    Nobody wants people who are poor to suffer more than they already do, of course, and NYC is an incredibly rich city (b/c of gentrification, if nothing else) but...

    Yeah, all twenty years I lived there, the state contributed much more to the national treasury than it got back; meanwhile places like, oh, I dunno, Alabama maybe?  Arkansas? sucked up all the surplus.

    Yet there are parts of NYS that are almost rust-belt poor.  If NYC's taxes were reinvested in the state as a whole, the suffering parts of the state could be reinvented with new technology and new infrastructure.

    So I can definitely see Catalonia's point here.

    THAT said, the IMF and Eurozone (I mean Germany) are wrong to impose austerity.

    No nation ever CUT its way out of a deflationary spiral.

    To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

    by Youffraita on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 11:21:39 PM PDT

  •  Please no (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TheOrchid, basquebob, MrSandman, ozsea1

    I'm no expert on Spain, but in the late 80s, I lived down in Sevilla. While I am well aware of the cultural distinctions between the regions, and of the nationalist dreams that linger still in many places, the notion that Spain might fall apart breaks my heart.

    Conservatives believe evil comes from violating rules. Liberals believe evil comes from violating each other.

    by tcorse on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 11:35:09 PM PDT

  •  I do. Daily. (6+ / 0-)
    Imagine for a moment a California or New York threatening to secede from the United States because the federal government was mired in debt and forced Californians and New Yorkers to send more tax dollars out of the states than they receive back?
    It's a lovely dream.

    Then I wake up and remember that the rest of you bastards will slaughter us by the hundreds of thousands rather than free us from the burden of funding your wars of naked aggression.

    "How dare you call someone a warmonger just because he's paid to sell war?"

    by JesseCW on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 11:35:16 PM PDT

  •  It's an interesting contrast with the UK (4+ / 0-)

    Scotland is due to hold an independence referendum in 2014 and no serious politician in the UK has questioned the right of the Scottish Parliament to hold the referendum nor suggested that the result should not be respected.

    The underlying assumption of Britain's unwritten constitution is that sovereignty remains vested in the Crown and in the four consitituent nations of the UK rather than in the population of the state as a whole.

    I'm guessing that the UK is probably unique in that regard. It's certainly not true of other European countries, the US, or since Meech Lake, Canada.

    •  Just a quibble: "four constiuent nations"? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ozsea1

      I thought the Isle of Man counted, too (told me by a woman with forebearers from there).  But GB/UK stuff is not simple.

      And what about the Orkneys?  And Jersey and Guernsey?  And Pitcairn? It gets so bloody Medeival...

      Don't even get us started with the Falklands...

      Torture is Wrong! We live near W so you don't have to. Send love.

      by tom 47 on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 08:55:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  What I find to be most interesting (5+ / 0-)

    Is that I am living in Barcelona now and while I am reading about this every day in the local papers, I don't feel the same sense of impending doom that I felt when the markets collapsed while I was living in New York in 2007-2008.  Even during OWS there was a palpable sense of change and uncertainty, but I am just not feeling that in Barcelona these days.

  •  Since the banksters run the place, just like here, (4+ / 0-)

    You'll see proposals to make the plebes start selling one kidney each before you'll see the banksters forced to cough up any of their ill-gotten billions to fill the hole.

  •  It's An Interesting Idea (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TheOrchid, semiot, Odysseus, ozsea1, basquebob

    One problem is that Catalonia within the Eurozone and the Euro would be extremely vulnerable to the predatory practices of Germany. You don't want to be a tiny country in Europe right now. You're basically unprotected from German aggression. Even big countries like Spain are.

    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

    by bink on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 05:20:54 AM PDT

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