Pablo Hernández de Cos is the governor of the Bank of Spain. Earlier this week he appeared before the Congress economic affairs committee. The subject, unsurprisingly, was the impact of the crisis on the economy.
The governor made two particularly pertinent points. One had to do with Spain’s business structure. In 2019, 90% of all companies had fewer than ten employees. For comparative purposes, he mentioned Germany, where the figure was 75%. The second was to do with tourism. The Spanish economy, he stated, was more vulnerable to the coronavirus crisis than other countries due to the “very high weight” of tourism and hospitality; he threw in retail as well.
So, here we had the governor of the Bank of Spain saying something not wholly dissimilar to what the much criticised consumer affairs minister, Alberto Garzón, has had to say, except the governor stressed that tourism had high added value and not low added value as Garzón has said. But this high added value in terms of contribution to the economy becomes a weakness when circumstances conspire as they have. There is a dependence on tourism, and it is a risky dependence when things go wrong.
The number of small companies could in some respects be linked to tourism, as one can guess that this number may well be partially attributable to all of Spain’s bars plus small shops. Consequently, as the governor explained, “the Spanish productive fabric is in a position of greater vulnerability ... as a result of the crisis”.
Garzón may have found an unlikely ally.