On September 30, 2023, the Andorra Economic Forum. A international event on economy, entrepreneurship and innovation which seeks to bring together, in this case in Andorra, the most prominent economists, managers, entrepreneurs and innovators in the Hispanic world in the same place with the aim of share training, experiences, knowledge, common goals and/or business ideas.
Including of course what is commonly called networking. After all, traveling to the Pyrenees for a weekend to attend an event on market economy, business and innovation surely guarantees meeting other people willing to do the same, and therefore interested in the same topics. . The truth is that the presentations, conferences and round tables together with the spaces open to informal conversation during the breaks intermediates offer a good cocktail between leisure and business; between learning and debate.
The event was organized for this house, the Abast Group, and by Racks, a firm that brings together a style clothing brand libertarian punk and one development and innovation company (Racks Labs). Collaborating on a project that, without a doubt, has meant a before and after for both of us both together and separately.
Difficulties and associated merits
However, getting to the Andorra Economic Forum was not exactly a bed of roses.. In this sense, many aspects could be named, starting with the geographical location of the event. Andorra is a small country, and the closed establishment that can accommodate the largest number of people in the country is Congress Center, with a maximum capacity of 900 people in its facilities for this type of events. Firstly limiting the number of total attendees.
Furthermore, the Congress Center is a public place. And that implies that Its availability remains at the mercy of public authorities and administrations., who decide (with perhaps dubious criteria, it must be said) what events are held and when. And since the government's priorities are different from those of the market, There was already an incident in this regard, which changed the dates of the celebration from the end of July to September 30.
To top it off, It is difficult to group people internationally in Andorra. The infrastructure is scarce: there is no railway, the airport has only the recent Madrid-La Seu line twice a week and buses connect the country relatively efficiently only with Barcelona and Tolouse. This makes transportation by private vehicle almost the only option. Or also... with a helicopter.
And this affects when it comes to gathering spectators, but also speakers.. Many profiles who could have fit the event have been contacted, and many of them were delighted until the moment the location was mentioned. Once again, the scarcity of means of transportation, given the public exposure that many personalities have, represents an obstacle. Even more so given the passions and controversies (unjustified, by the way) that the name “Andorra” raises. in the neighboring country, especially in a part of the population. I'm sure you would be surprised to see that it is a wonderful country.
We cannot forget the theme of the event itself.. It used to be said a while ago in Spain that liberals can all fit on a bus, from which it follows that liberals and those interested in entrepreneurship and innovation can fit on a motorcycle. Still, joking aside, We have shown that there are 900 people who not only flirt with all these ideas, but are willing to travel to Andorra to soak up them..
The celebration of the event
Like any memorable event, the event went from less to more on a very intense day for the participants. Even so, from the first moment the Congress Center was practically packed. Half an hour after the doors opened, at 10 in the morning, the event started with a Opening Presentation by Marc Urgell, Founder and Managing Partner of Abast. The event and the brand of the Andorra Economic Forum were introduced, with its due explanatory statement, and of course the speakers, with special emphasis on the moderator of the tables: Marta Isern. A journalist specialized in Economics and Cosmetics (strange combination) who more than moderates guided and conducted the conversations at the tables in such a splendid way that I have nothing but sincere admiration for her.
The Entrepreneurship Table
From there, The Andorra Economic Forum took on a life of its own. The so-called Entrepreneurship Roundtable began, formed by Sergi Benet, co-founder of financial education agency Balio, Álvaro González de Buitrago Burgoa, creator of Alvaro875 Youtube channel and CEO of Team Cheese, Euge Oller, CEO of personal and business development company Start Learning, the Venture Capital Fund Manager with Nuclio Y Nekko Capital Ernest Sanchez and Marc Urgell, the aforementioned CEO of the Abast group.
From their experiences, failures and successes, in that order, The speakers admitted to us that starting a business is not easy, it is not for everyone, and that you have to be a little crazy to do it.. Listening to their most personal stories, their origins and their perspectives when carrying out projects was a kind of cold water for those who believe that entrepreneurship is putting into practice the perfect plan that one has in their head. Entrepreneurship in the market is a very chaotic process and full of black swans.
Presentation by María Blanco
And chaos and complexity is what he came to talk about Maria Blanco, doctor and professor in Economics who combines teaching with academic research, writing and the dissemination of liberal ideas in different media. Of course after the respective Coffee Break networking scheduled at the event.
Beginning with Wells and The War of the Worlds and referring to Don Quixote, María showed off her varied knowledge. Adopting thesis of the most talebianas (of Nassim Taleb) He described the economy to us as a complex and non-linear system in which predicting is a daring and impossible task.. And before which we can only adopt a position that is not so much defensive but rather antifragile, of adaptation to the environment and especially to that which we cannot change.
Formed by Abel Pena, CSO of Bit2Me, Carlos Adams, co-founder of Racks and entrepreneur focused on the most cutting-edge digital businesses, Ramon Lopez Galindo, former president of the AFA, CEO of DGOBS and reputed entrepreneur in the financial world, Adrian Peribáñez, CIO of Andbank and Director of Actyus, and Javier Blazquez, Tax Partner at Baker McKenzie.
In the table All topics related to the two current nascent technologies were discussed: blockchain and Artificial Intelligence. Particularly suitable and applied to financial markets. Opinions, stories, people's adoption, consequences in society, state of the current financial system, how these technologies are implemented, pros and cons, etc.
Composed of Victor Dominguez, CEO of Wall Street Wolverine and Co-founder of Racks, the journalist and communications manager Yzan Perez, the philosophy, coaching and entrepreneurship youtuber Adrià Solà Pastor and finance communicators and content creators Uri Vyce Y Celia Rubio.
Being all young and coming from the field of Media and Communication, finally this became the star topic. From what the world of the press is like from the inside, with its tortuous and mafia-like actions of social cancellation to how to communicate topics related to finances well and fight to teach them from children.
Presentation by Pablo Gil
A presentation by Pablo Gil that is not full of graphics would not be a presentation by Pablo Gil. The trader and stock market expert He came out with a series of graphs of interest rates, GDP and debt that indicate what many of us have been waiting for for too long: that the financial system is bad and is going to have to burst somewhere. And another option is that this debt at historic highs takes us to japanization, which is much worse.
However, he reminded us that it is crises that forge colossi. Taking over from María Blanco, she mentioned that periods of expansion are long, while crises are short and intense. And finally he made us realize, from his experience, that nascent technologies usually end in a bloodbath in which only a few are decorated as winners. The dot com bubble is an example, but he brought out others like Kodak, Yahoo o blackberry.
Made of Ruben Manso, former deputy, economist and lawyer, and even captain of the Army (? clearly a polymath), the expert on the Spanish real estate market and CEO Barcelona in Savills Spain Anna Gener, Alex Bové Diez the founder and CIO of Paulson AM, the Chief Global Economist of Andbank Alex Fuste Mozo and the political scientist, journalist and economic analyst in Free market and director of Juan de Mariana Institute Manuel Llamas.
Rubén Manso opened the table with a quite moderate and optimistic speech, who blamed “in part” OPEC decisions and energy policies for inflation. Nevertheless, Manuel Llamas responded in a spin with a forceful and open-ended speech that the total fault lies with the Central Banks, aberrant institutions that should not exist and whose function is impossible and impoverishing in every sense. Until Rubén Manso had to admit that this really has to blow up because there is no magic solution possible.
From there the topic began to be mixed with that of the financial bubble, which according to Alex Bové is non-existent in Spain. Anna Gener also reminded us how complex and inhomogeneous the housing market is. Finally, Álex Fusté surprised us with his famous “Sustainability Equation”, coined by himself, according to which impossible growth must be achieved to keep up with the current pace of life. In any case, I am left with the following phrase extracted from all the speakers that marked me:
Economic knowledge is confused with a political positionEconomy Table
Closing presentation by Daniel Lacalle
Daniel Lacalle, always so formal and contained, amazed us with a spectacle worthy of a showman but at the same time with knowledge and experience typical of an ancient wise man. In my almost ten years following Daniel, I had never seen this impressive facet. His adventures around the world and conversations with the most diverse people allow him to extract lessons, metaphors and situations from similar contexts at breakneck speed.
ANDBetween implicit and well-placed jokes, Daniel explains to us that the Central Banks are doing what they should, because its function is to finance states and governments by inflating the currency. The Government of Spain itself, as an example, estimates that over the next few years there will be a deficit of 14 billion, assuming on the basis that there is no recession, unemployment drops and the country grows at 21Q3T on average.
He explains to us that the inflation of the money supply already increased between 2008 and 2019, but that money went to the overvaluation of financial assets. Also, using the basic equation of the quantity theory of money, that overcapacity partially cushioned the blow of the brutal increase in the money supply of the pandemic years, but raw materials finally soared.
He reminds us that current interest rates are not high, that he had his first mortgage at 13.8% and that zero and negative rates are an aberration. That governments take advantage of any excuse, including technology, to advance their interventions in society.. And the event ends with a final climax. A masterful phrase that is perfect for framing and that fits perfectly into the theme of the event:
I am not worried about Artificial Intelligence, but rather human stupidity.Daniel Lacalle
Pre-event and post-event success
Despite all the difficulties mentioned, it can be said without a doubt that the event was a real success..
To begin with, top-level speakers were obtained, as we have already seen. It was also possible to make a sold out of the two types of tickets (Standard and Premium) two weeks before the event thanks to the organizers (especially Víctor Domínguez). In addition, the prices were very affordable, at an unbeatable price.
The entire organization, led by Helena de Torres, Abast's main Marketing and Communication manager, was exquisite. It also deserves absolute recognition. The ticketing system and ticketing, managed by Racks and directed by Yonathan Suárez, worked perfectly and allowed quick and undelayed access to the event.
But above all, It was a great success because everyone came out delighted.. Attendees, guests, speakers, organizers and sponsors. So much so that everyone commented on it directly or indirectly. Highlight the article by Rubén Manso, titled «Chronicle of the other Spain» in VozPopuli, that of Manuel Llamas, «They are not only YouTubers: young entrepreneurs in Spain look at Andorra with envy», or María Blanco's interview in Dona Secret «No vull viure en una societat de privilegis».
Despite the controversies in which the organizers were branded as sexist and attempts to overthrow the event, more than 900 people were able to gather in an event like no other of its kind in Andorra, with an 80% of foreign participation (not Andorran resident) and with a estimated economic impact of 250,000 in the country. A success that has involved a before and after and that, the completion of the event, represents the beginning of this story.