The European Debt Crisis: A Look into Spain’s Twenty-First Century Decline

Last summer, I was fortunate enough to study abroad in Spain for a month. After enjoying the vibrant culture, nightlife, and architecture, I started to wonder why all of my Spanish friends had so much free time. The answer was simple – they were all unemployed and lived with their mothers. In conjunction with this observation, I also took a course on Spain’s relationship with the United States and saw similarities and differences in our economic practices that caused me to wander outside of my political science safety net. I started to teach myself about investing, markets, and economics as best I could. This past fall, I did a personal study and wrote a paper on investment practices in Brazil. My next step was to try to apply what I had learned to my PFP paper.

After slowly working my way through the complex sovereign debt crisis of Europe and Spain, I was surprised most by just how much can go wrong in one economy. I have always, for the most part, understood the precarious nature of running a government; however, the incredible balancing act of different programs and departments is seemingly impossible. Throughout my research, I encountered numerous programs that were completed in half or mismanaged to the point of failure. I was shocked most by the results of Spain’s push for green energy and the amount of faith the current U.S. administration placed in this push.

Before President Obama’s inauguration in January of 2009, he toured an Ohio business that manufactures components for wind power generators and exclaimed his support for the European initiative toward creating jobs through these factories. The objective was to model our energy subsidy packages after similar projects in Spain, Germany, and Japan. As outlined in a study conducted by Universedad Rey Juan Carlos, Spain’s program was a disaster. While the aim was to create jobs, Spain ended up losing a varying figure of around 2.2 jobs for every job gained. Thankfully, Solyndra was the only major bust of the green energy push in the United States.

In my paper, I am looking further in to what exactly went wrong with regard to unemployment, deficits, public and private debt, a downgraded credit rating, the housing crisis, the failed attempt at a green economy, and the people’s dependency on family and government programs. Although a relatively simple topic, its best aspect is that it is a constantly developing drama of fluctuating data. With limited comprehensive papers, I have to conduct my research by piecing together news articles. I look forward to any advice you all may have. Unfortunately, as a political science major, my knowledge of charts, indexes, and indicators is still very limited.


About Hampton Cokeley

I am a member of The Citadel class of 2013 and I major in Political Science: American Government and Politics with a minor in Spanish. My paper topic looks into Spain's rise and decline during the latter half of the 20th century because I believe learning from other countries' mistakes is a good practice. After graduation, I plan to go to Law school and see what happens from there. I used to play lacrosse for The Citadel, but now I just try to work out as much as I can and enjoy myself.
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