MADRID | By J. P. Marín Arrese | Water and power supply would be secured should Catalonia become an independent nation. That’s the only reassuring conclusion the economic think tank set up by the regional government has recently reached. On handling monetary and financial issues, it points to severe problems ahead.
As introducing a national currency would prove an awesome price to pay, using the Euro stands as the only reasonable option. Yet, neither the banking system would cash iquidity from ECB facilities, nor securities stemming from loans to Catalonia’s enterprises could not possibly qualify for collaterals. A dim prospect the think tank experts shrug off as amounting to tolerable damage. But Is this cost so bearable as they appear to claim?
Becoming independent always involves a high price. In most cases, raised as examples for Catalonia, the former Motherland hardly provides the kind of safety net that may cast serious doubts on the economic merits of going alone. Just think about Yugoslavia. No one would dare to attach any importance to its common currency as an anchor to prosperity.
Catalonia seems a rather different case. It currently enjoys an enviable situation in Europe as a Member State region. Splitting itself away from such comfortable circumstances amounts to running into acute difficulties.
Would banks and enterprises refrain from fleeing to safety should the danger of losing all current benefits loom ahead?
How could a financial institution, such as La Caixa, remain Catalonia-based when it has so much to lose from it?
Any unilateral move towards independence seems utterly doomed. Only comon understanding could eventually lead to a fair status quo, Spain’s green light becoming an essential step for safely sparing Catalonia from economic collapse. Unless the idea of a separate nation becomes widely accepted, financial shortcomings would prevent it from going down that road. The sooner that condition is fully ackowledged, the better.
By JP Marin Arrese on July 21st, 2014.
Juan Pedro Marín Arrese is a Madrid-based economic analyst and observer. He regularly publishes articles in the Spanish leading financial newspaper 'Expansión'.