It is impossible to understate the gravity of the unfolding crisis, which nowadays has investors worldwide watching Spain with far more trepidation than Greece. The former, after all, has the world’s seventh-largest economy, and withal one that has gone from robust expansion to a 20 percent unemployment rate in two years’ time. Like the American real estate bubble? You’ll love Spain, where a decades-old real estate bubble, from the posh Mediterranean coastline to the splendid mountains of Andalusia, has burst with a report heard round the world. Spain isn’t a third-tier economy like Greece; nobody can afford to bail out Madrid and everyone knows it.
Although the meeting itself was swaddled in secrecy, an official list of participants was released after the event. Spain, as both the host country and the eye of the European financial hurricane, was disproportionately represented, with 12 participants in attendance, including the Secretary General of the Prime Minister and representatives of various Spanish mega-banking firms like Grupo Santander.
Overall, the list of attendees skewed political and financial. Eight members of the Obama administration were in attendance, as well as Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands (a perennial participant), Queen Sophia of Spain, and numerous high officials from European governments. Various ministers of finance and banking and investment moguls from across the Western world represented a significant portion of the totality of transatlantic wealth.
What such a distinguished coterie was discussing with their like-minded confreres across the pond is not difficult to divine: the economic crisis, the war on terrorism, and the ongoing occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan must have been high on the list. Planning the future of the Euro and the U.S. dollar was doubtless a priority. No doubt grand plans and revolutionary designs were set forth, given the tenor of the times. For, as Dominique Strauss-Kahn, head of the IMF and onetime Bilderberger, put it, “Crisis is an opportunity.” From the perspective of the man on the street, a hot-selling tee shirt at Sitges said it all: “I went to Bilderberg 2010 and all I got was this lousy new world order.”