In the lecture, entitled ‘Threats and Opportunities for the Spanish Economy in 2016’, Gay de Liébana stated that to guarantee the long-term sustainable growth of the Spanish economy ‘it is necessary to invest more in R&D, develop sectors with high added value, strengthen ties between universities and the real and business worlds, invest more in training and the internationalisation of SMEs’, among other measures.
For Gay de Liébana, the main risks to the Spanish economy in 2016 are ‘the financial volatility of the stock markets, the weak economic situation of Southern European countries, the lack of governability and political uncertainty’. He also warned of the trend towards an economic model ‘in which production processes will require fewer people due to the robotisation of many tasks currently performed by human beings’.
In relation to the current state of the Spanish economy, Gay de Liébana pointed to various positive data: the GDP growth rate, which in 2015 was 3.2% and forecast by both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to be 2.7% in 2016; the increase in private consumption and purchasing power, largely due to the moderation of the CPI as a consequence of the drop in energy prices; the increased solvency of the banking industry and the recovery of credit; and the sustained increase in tourism. Taking all these aspects into account, the economist warned of certain problems that pose a threat to the Spanish economy: the high unemployment rate, ‘worrying’ deficit and private and family debt levels, and the reduction of the pension reserve fund.
Albert Martínez, managing director of Agbar in Catalonia, introduced the speaker, highlighting his communication skills and his wisdom when predicting the arrival of the economic crisis due to high debt levels. Not in vain has he been dubbed the ‘professor of common sense or indignant economist’, having warned in an article in the Expansión newspaper in 2007 that ‘that year we had dined on lobster, but the following year we would be having tinned sardines for dinner’.
After the conference, which was live Tweeted by the Agbar Foundation and #CercleAigua, Albert Martínez moderated a debate on the future of the Spanish, European and World economies and the governability of Spain.