Cowen on Catalonia

At MR, Tyler Cowen has a rather strong reaction against an economist who supports Catalan secession:

He taught me Ph.d Micro I at Harvard, so it’s too bad he wants to wreck both Spain and Europe, and for so little in return. Didn’t one of his theorems suggest this was a bad idea? It’s not as if Catalonia is treated like Tibet.

Would Tyler also say the Velvet Divorce “wrecked” the Czech Republic and Slovakia?

As an aside, if only peoples treated like Tibet are granted a moral right to secede, then in fact no one will secede permissibly, for governments that treat Tibet like Tibet don’t let Tibet secede.

5 thoughts on “Cowen on Catalonia

  1. Martin Luther to the peasants of Swabia:

    … you say that the rulers are wicked and intolerable, for they will not allow us the Gospel, and they oppress us too hard by the burdens they lay on our temporal goods, and they are ruining us body and soul. I answer: The fact that the rulers are wicked and unjust does not excuse tumult and rebellion, for to punish wickedness does not belong to everybody, but to the worldly rulers who bear the sword.

    For what have they left, when they have lost their authority?

    I make you the judges, and leave it to you to decide who is the worse robber, the man who takes a large part of another’s goods, but leaves him something, or the man who takes everything that he has, and his living besides. The rulers unjustly take your property; that is the one side. On the other hand, you take from them the authority, in which their whole property and life and being consist. Therefore, you are far greater robbers than they, and intend to do worse things than they have done. “Nay,” you say, “we are going to leave them enough to live on.” If anyone wants to believe that, let him! I do not believe it. One who dares go so far as to take away, by force, the authority, which is the main thing, will not leave it at that, but will take the other, and the smaller thing, that depends upon it.

    The wolf that eats a whole sheep will also eat its ear. And even though you were so good as to leave them enough to live on, nevertheless, you would take the best thing they have, namely, their authority, and make yourselves lords over them; and that would be too great a robbery and wrong. God will hold you the greatest robbers.

  2. Two different cases.

    The stability of Spain will have an impact in Europe. Catalonia’s secession would destabalize Spain further. Czechoslovakia at the time was outside the UE and we were not in the middle of a huge crisis.

    The point about Tibet is that the separatists make is sound they are treated like Tibet, when Catalonia has freedom and quality of life.

    1. Czechoslovakia’s economic turbulence in 1992 was surely greater than that of Spain today.

      Sure, minority nationalists exaggerate their plight, but majority-state nationalists also exaggerate the negative consequences of independence.

  3. “Czechoslovakia’s economic turbulence in 1992 was surely greater than that of Spain today.”

    Really? did they have 25% unemployment and a collapse of a housing bubble like the one in Spain? did they need billions in a bail out? Were they a threat to bring down the UE?

    1. There are other indicators of economic turbulence beside the unemployment rate. But if you don’t like the Czechoslovakia example, what about Slovenia? There’s no question that Yugoslavia was in a dire situation in 1991.

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