Friday, November 09, 2007

Here's a very interesting report by the World Bank called Doing Business 2008 Spain; there's one of these profiles for pretty much every country in the world. What it makes clear is that Spain has a long way to go on the road to international competitiveness.

Personal note: I myself had the idea a couple of years ago to open a nonfiction bookstore in Barcelona, and I still think there's a niche for one. So I went down to the city hall, and learned that it was so slow and difficult and expensive that there was no way I was ever going to make any money. So BCN is short one bookstore.

Spain ranked 118th worldwide in ease of Starting a Business; 46th in Dealing with Licenses; 154th in Labor Regulations; 42nd in Registering Property; 13th in Getting Credit; 93rd in Paying Taxes; 47th in Importing and Exporting; 55th in Enforcing Contracts; and 17th in Closing a Business. Figures that the stuff Spain does well at is getting easy cash and going bankrupt.

A few comparisons between Spain and the US (the UK figures are generally pretty similar to the US):

It takes you 47 days to open a business in Spain; 6 in the US. It costs you 15% of per capita yesrly income in Spain to open up; in the US it's 0%.

In order to build a warehouse, it takes 233 days to get the permits in Spain; 40 in the US. The license costs 65% of per capita income in Spain; 13% in the US.

It costs an average of 56 weeks' pay to fire a worker in Spain; it's 0 weeks' pay in the US. Nonwage labor costs are 33% of wages in Spain; 8% in the US.

Registering property takes 18 days in Spain and 12 in the US; it costs 7% of the property value in Spain and 0.5% in the US.

Average taxes are 62% of profits in Spain and 46% in the US.

It takes 515 days to enforce a contract in Spain and costs 17.2% of the claim; the figures in the US are 300 days and 9.4% of the claim.

Maybe some smart political party can campaign on these issues, putting forth a real program for making it easier to do business in Spain. Of course the logical consequences would be more businesses, higher employment, and a greater tax base, and everybody's in favor of that, right?

Naah. It'd never work. Better to slag off the opposition about not being Catalanist enough. Or just question their commitment to democracy and accuse them of plotting a coup.

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