After studying abroad in Spain during the summer of 2011, I began to question how one of the most powerful empires in the world could have fallen into such a state of national humility. Spain has struggled financially for centuries and only until the turn of the 20th century did the economy take a turn for the worse. My best Spanish friends were largely out of work and selling illegal drugs because the 20% unemployment rate left absolutely no jobs to be had. Protests were raging at the Puerta del Sol in the center of Madrid with organizations like the PLO making an appearance. All of this chaos has contributed to the financial instability of the European Union; however, as of late, the situation with Spain has taken a back seat to the pragmatic state of Greece and the safety of Germany. I want to know what went wrong in Spain’s history and what decisions were made that led this once powerful empire into a state of total disrepair.
I will first have to examine the historical relationships that the United States has had with Spain in recent history. The United States has interacted with Spain in a limited nature during the past century when compared to other countries; however, actions like the Spanish-American War and the remnants of the Marshall plan used to build infrastructure in Spain have played a major role in recent Spanish history. A historical analysis of the interactions between the United States and Spain are necessary to set the stage for Spain’s current state as well as see if the decisions of the U.S. Congress could have played any role in their instability.
The United States has extremely close ties with the European Union. The stability of the euro is crucial to the trade industry of the United States as half of our exports are sent to Europe. When the euro is high, Europe buys; however, when the euro is low, Europe shies away from American goods. Spain’s instability as one of the “PIIGS” is extremely dangerous to the state of the euro as a continental currency. Due to all of the markets being connected by the same legal tender, the failure of Spain could lead to the weakening of the European Union or possibly even dissolution. I will examine the ties that the European Union has to the United States and how the markets are interconnected in order to see just what kind of affect a crash would have on the United States.
The current economic crisis in the United States is on the mind of most of America; however, the economic ramifications of a dissolved European Union are not as prevalent in mainstream media. This crisis is on somewhat of a personal level for me. I am researching this topic to see what has been done wrong and what can be done right in order to improve the living situations for some of great people that I met while abroad. All too often do Americans forget that we are not alone in this world and that, to postulate the thoughts of Thomas Friedman, the world is indeed flat.
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