After a long break away from writing on these pages, I find myself returning with a greater sense of purpose. As some may know, I was recently the subject of a New York Times & International Herald Tribune piece covering the increasing numbers of Spaniards who elect to pursue their financial goals abroad.
This trend has, of course, been accentuated by the increasingly tenuous state of our domestic economy, which provides limited room for ambitious professionals.
Just last week I, together with my family, relocated to the UK and started a new professional chapter in a financial services-focused software firm. As a corollary to this decision, I took what little financial exposure I had to Spanish assets and reduced it to near zero.
Once my initial and natural excitement at being portrayed in the press subsided, (after all it’s not often that I make the papers…) I thought nothing of the article and settled back to my normal state of anonymity. However, it was not to last. The subsequent reaction of a number of Spanish newspapers to the NY Times article is what prompted me to post this piece.
For you see, my fellow countrymen have opted not to pause and take the original NY Times article as the proverbial “canary in the mine” and instigator of calm reflection, but rather as a gross exaggeration of a mild malaise. According to the otherwise sharp financial daily “Expansion” (who rather curiously title their editorial commentary “Julio Vildosola” as if I were in any way a relevant opinion driver), the large number of professionals who have opted to move their assets abroad and/or seek employment beyond Spain’s boundaries are not representative of a capital flight or indeed any cause for concern.
Of greater concern, the Spanish press is pointing the accusing finger towards the US press, throwing in Paul Krugman for good measure and displaying a surprisingly aggressive tone in questioning the validity of the fears over Spain’s economic condition. No mention is made of the fragile state of our economy, the alarming rate of unemployment, the dismal state of our banks or the lack of competitiveness of our workforce with its high relative costs and poor productivity.
It seems that voicing one’s opinion, mine in this case, is not just inappropriate but in fact a heresy. Many have contacted me to share their concerns, and indeed ‘disappointment” with my comments, alluding to the concept of a self/fulfilling prophecy and making vague accusations of “selling Spain short”.
As a matter of fact nothing could be further from the truth. As those that have been reading my writings since 2009 will attest to, I stand to gain little by dissing my home country and am merely commenting things as I see them without conscious filters of any kind to cloud my judgment.
At this point I hope that, if anything, the NY Times piece contributes to accelerate the brave decision-making that needs to be assumed by those with true power to act.
Until then, and as always, I will continue to seek the best returns for my investment and professional efforts, wherever that may be.