Seneca the Younger, the Roman philosopher and playwright who was born in Spain, wrote: "If a man does not know to what port he is steering, no wind is favourable to him."
Spain isn’t catching much favorable wind. The Wall Street Journal’s Ilan Brat has noted that Spain’s economic news keeps getting worse – even for the not-so-recent past: “Spain’s unemployment rate reached a record high of nearly 25% in the second quarter. The government expects the unemployment rate to decline next year and beyond. It also expects the country’s economy to contract 1.7% this year, even as exports grow.”
These days, Spaniards are considering moving to Germany – just as they did a half century ago. James Michener wrote of Spain in the 1960s in his non-fiction Iberia: “The villagers pointed to a man who had spent fives years there, and he did not speak but he did make three most informative gestures which I was to see often. With his right hand he fed himself, signifying, ‘In Germany you eat well.’ With the thumb and forefinger of his right hand he felt the cloth of his shirt, meaning, ‘In Germany you can dress decently.’ And with two hands he made the sign of a man driving an automobile. These were the universal comments on Germany.”
It is not just people who are leaving Spain. It is capital as well, “In July, Spaniards withdrew a record 75 billion euros, or $94 billion, from their banks — an amount equal to 7 percent of the country’s overall economic output — as doubts grew about the durability of Spain’s financial system,” wrote the New York Times’ Landon Thomas. “The deposit outflow in Spain reflects a broader capital flight problem that is by far the most serious in the euro zone. According to a recent research note from Nomura, capital departing the country equaled a startling 50 percent of gross domestic product over the past three months — driven largely by foreigners unloading stocks and bonds but also by Spaniards transferring their savings to foreign banks.”
Even in its golden days – when gold was pouring into Spain from the New World, Spain did not handle its wealth well. Seneca the Younger was a wise man. He said: "That is never too often repeated, which is never sufficiently learned."