Business Over Tapas 17 September 2015 Nº 129

17 Septiembre 2015 935 votos

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Editorial:

‘If we get just 68 deputies, that’ll be enough to declare independence’, says Raül Romeva, the (straw-) head of Junts pel Sí. (Video and report here). ‘We’ll be Spain’s most faithful ally’, says Artur Mas, hoping to calm the fears, ‘as Spain will be for us’. Well, that’s not going to be easy, as, evidently, no first minister anywhere likes to lose a chunk of the nation on his watch, and indeed Mariano Rajoy notes that ‘we have the mechanisms to stop the break-up of Spain’. In all, this is a serious and worrisome situation which will come to a head on September 27th. Spaniards now face four major concerns: Could Barcelona try for a split following the results? Could Madrid send in the tanks? Who on earth would CD Barcelona have to play football with and what would happen to bank accounts with la Caixa or the Banco de Sabadell? Then there’s of course the fifth one: What will the Basques do? The old form was to refer to the Catalonians in everyday conversation as ‘polacos’ – as Poles. Now the rueful joke goes: ‘We used to call them Polacos, but now we call them Españoles!’. Maybe they’ve left it too late...

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Housing:

El Diario finds that a lot of money is being ploughed into Real Estate in Spain, with large funds and foreign investors both appearing bullish. Hotels, commercial centres and office blocks are being snapped up. In homes, British buyers are showing a surge, with 20% of all foreign-bought dwellings going to them (followed by the French and Germans at 8% each).

‘There is “no market” for a big part of the glut of never-sold homes in Spain, claims one of the few developers still operating. In its latest annual report, the Spanish developer Espacio, part of the Villar Mir Group, makes the gloomy claim, shared by many others, that a large part of the excess new homes inventory in Spain will never be sold...’. Story at Mark Stücklin’s Spanish Property Insight.

‘Spanish properties worth up to 124% more with a swimming pool’. From The Olive Press.

An article in the ABC says that ‘residential tourism’ (the Spanish euphemism for foreign property-owners and their families) is bringing life to the Costa Blanca, which, says the newspaper, is ‘the Toscana of Spain’. Both residents and the hotels are looking for more and cheaper international flights to extend the season, it adds.

‘Over 10,800 new construction companies registered in Spain this year. 92% more share capital has been invested in creating new construction companies than during the first eight months of last year’. Headline at Spanish News Today.

‘After eight years, average house prices in Spain have fallen by a total of 41.8%, and by between 32 and 50 percent depending on the area. Whether it takes another eight years for property values to rise back to the same level is something we will only find out in due course ... by 2023 at the latest...’. Editorial from Kyero. (kyero.com here)

‘Up to 30,000 Britons with holiday homes in Spain could still be due compensation from its government after they were hit with 'unfair' inheritance tax charges. The punitive tax charge was made between 2011 and 2014 on non-residents – which in Spanish law is those who live there for less than half the year – who inherited a home. This included husbands and wives whose spouses died. The redress is expected to run into millions of euros for those hit. According to estimates by specialist solicitors Spanish Legal Reclaims after analysing government data, around 30,000 paid tax in the three-year period...’. From This is Money.

‘Spanish air traffic controllers have set fresh 12-hour strikes on September 26th and October 3rd in protest at disciplinary sanctions by authorities...’. From The Local.

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Tourism:

 

Spain’s network of airports registered its best month ever in August, with record traffic of 24,001,019 passengers. The latest figure consolidates an upward trend in terms of passenger volume that has been seen over the last 22 months. Out of the total figure, 17,334,261 passengers travelled on international flights, a 3.9% increase on August 2014...’. From El País in English. (Almería airport passengers for August meanwhile fell by 10% over last year: from The Entertainer Online).

‘Wooing the Russians: how Spain and Italy are trying to lure back lost tourists. With a weak rouble and difficult diplomatic relations, the number of Russian tourists in the two countries is down. But they have a plan to win them back’. Headline at The Guardian.

‘The Minister of Industry, Energy and Tourism, José Manuel Soria, said that "we need to reinvent tourism, but sensible ideas are better" in reference to the initiatives of the new mayoress of Barcelona, Ada Colau, and proposals by the mayoress of Madrid, Manuela Carmena. Soria recommends that they should not try to do any experiments with such an important economic sector...’. From Hosteltur.

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Finance:

 

The Minister for the Economy, Luis de Guindos, is travelling to London and New York next week to meet with major investors, bankers, rating agencies and Government officials to explain the strength of the Spanish economy and to seek assurances that the risk premium for Spain doesn’t rise on unfounded doubts. El Mundo has more. The daily news-service Typically Spanish mentions the Minister in its business brief as well – ‘The Economy and Competitiveness Minister, Luis de Guindos, has said investment in Cataluña has increased because nobody believes any succession will take place. He made the comment before revealing Spain’s third quarter growth this year was ‘close to 3.5%...’’.

The Markets think that the Greek Crisis has now passed to Spain, and that there is ‘a growing risk of a worsening of the economy’, says El Mundo here. The outcome of the Catalonian (Sept 27th) and later Spanish national elections (now pencilled in by Rajoy for December 20th), are clearly causing the larger European banks some concern.

The AVE tunnel under the Pyrenees that connects Spain with France is in receivership owing some 1000 million euros. Europa Press has the story.

Spain’s military spending, according to Nueva Tribuna, is considerably higher than acknowledged publicly; indeed, the 2016 figures will be 420% over the announced budget. The calculation, using NATO criteria, is muddied by creative accounting and other tricks, says the report.

‘Despite the economic crisis, Spain has more multimillionaires than ever’. Headline found at El País. New figures released last week by the Tax Agency show ‘that 471 individuals declared assets of over €30 million in 2013, more than twice as many as were on record in 2007, right before the economic downturn’. El Ventano has a better story though: ‘133 Spanish bankers are making over a million euros a year: half of them make two...’.

While the nationalists are strong in various parts of Spain, they’ve given up in Andalucía. David Jackson tells of the dissolution of the Partido Andalucista here.

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Politics:

‘Spain will probably hold national elections on December 20, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said on Thursday (Sept 3rd), leaving him less than four months to persuade Spaniards an economic recovery is good enough to warrant giving him a second term in office...’. Story at Reuters.

The election guru for the Partido Popular for both Rajoy and Aznar is Pedro Arriola. Arriola last week admitted that ‘The crisis has brutally swept away one ruling party (Zapatero) and may well lead to a repeat disaster with the elections in December’ (paraphrased translation). Story at 20 Minutos.

While the Government is unwilling to accept Brussels’ figures for refugees, and as hundreds of Syrian refugees are turned away from the Melilla frontier by the Moroccan police, and while some of our left-wing cities are offering succour to all who might appear, the General Director for Migrations, Aurelio Miras Portugal, is away to Venezuela on a visit to present a commemorative medal to the Centro Asturiano de Caracas. Nothing better to do?

Wolf Street and the two forthcoming elections: ‘Investors Get Jittery As Spain Enters Whole New World of Pain. Even chief financial alchemist Draghi is unable to prevent gravity from taking hold’. The article begins: ‘After a summer of missed opportunities, poisoned rhetoric and bitter recrimination, Spain faces what promises to be a very tumultuous autumn...’.

The Government will pay out another part of the ‘extra payment’ (owed since 2012) to the Public Sector workers (los funcionarios) in January or February, says the Ministry of Hacienda. It’ll be about 750€ per funcionario, although the date can’t be sure ‘as it isn’t certain who will be governing Spain by then’ (read between the lines!). Story at Vozpópuli.

Has the ‘new’ become ‘old’ so soon? El Huff Post asks why don’t Ciudadanos and Podemos excite us anymore?

Podemos – oddly popular with the Catalonians for the General Elections, but not so much for their regional ones... El Diario looks at the figures here.

‘Thomas Piketty to advise Spain's anti-austerity party Podemos. French economist to join international committee of experts advising the party on economic policy ahead of general election’. Headline from The Guardian.

Pablo Iglesias seems to like the new Labour leader for the UK Jeremy Corbin. Here’s his article in The Guardian: ‘The Labour leader and my own party Podemos have one thing in common: a rejection of the neo-liberalism that has impoverished our people’. Stung, ‘Pedro Sánchez sees similarities between Corbyn and his party, the PSOE’. Story at Crónica Global. Another look at this subject (as the other left-wing champion, Izquierda Unida, is quietly forgotten) comes from El País in English.

laSexta TV has asked El Gran Wyoming (Spain’s answer to Jon Stewart) not to overdo the criticism of the Government. The TV channel, part of the Grupo Atresmedia, has asked the pundit comedian to ‘be responsible’ and to avoid any rough stuff. Atresmedia is seeking to obtain licences for two new TV channels in October. ‘El Intermedio' – Wyoming’s TV show, started again last week after two months off the menu of laSexta. The network has banned the program team from using a series of slogans for the satirical news so as not cause more political problems for Atresmedia Group. If there’s a program on the TV today that causes regular complaints from the Government of Mariano Rajoy for its treatment of the Executive and the PP, then it’s this one. Throughout the whole legislature, those surrounding the president have often complained to the managers of Atresmedia about their disappointment over the content of the satirical news program which is broadcast every night Monday through Thursday. Story at El Confidencial Digital.

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Courts:

The wife of the Minister for Industry, Energy and Tourism, José Manuel Soria, is called Carmen Benítez López. Sra Benítez is a barrister (procuradora) for many large companies who are regulated by the ministry – indeed some twenty of whom are in court over different procedures. These include Endesa, Schindler, Telefónica and Orange. A law of conflict of interest, the Ley de Altos Cargos, appears to have been flouted, says El Diario here.

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Catalonia:

 

El Español (Pedro J Ramírez’ new cybernewssite) helpfully explains, in a short video in English, what Catalonia is, or was, or perhaps, might one day become. Or not.

This Saturday gone, the day following the Diada (Catalonian national day), campaigning for the regional elections on 27th started in earnest. Here is the top commentator on Spanish affairs, Don Quijones of Wolf Street with ‘Is Catalonia About to Go All In?’ : ‘An extremely high-stakes game of political poker, not just for Catalonia and Spain but for Europe’. The article begins:‘For a nation that doesn’t officially exist, Catalonia sure knows how to throw a national-day party. September 11, approximately 1.4 million people filled the streets of the region’s capital, Barcelona (urban population: 1.6 million), to commemorate La Diada, the fateful day 301 years ago when Catalonia was defeated during the War of the Spanish Succession...’.

The latest survey by the CIS gives Independence parties a tiny lead in Catalonia. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defence has said (story and video here) that nothing will happen: no guns, tanks, soldiers or any other such madness from the Army. No, not as long as everything is legal and correct. How about that for a threat?

 

Commenting on a possible UDI (Unilateral Declaration of Independence) somewhere down the road, ex-PSOE Minister Josep Borrell says in an interview that he believes that Catalonia is a Nation, but should not become a State.

Raül Romeva, the first name on the Junts pel Sí is grilled by Stephen Sackur on the BBC (here) about Catalonian statehood. His English is good – even if his arguments are weak...

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Various:

 

‘Can Spain’s monarchy be saved? It’s up to King Felipe VI and his commoner queen. He’s young and handsome and boasts a family tree with six centuries of kings and queens. She’s smart and glamorous and doesn’t have a drop of blue blood. They are the very model of a modern royal couple...’. From The Washington Post. (Subscription)

‘...the Ley de Enjuiciamiento Criminal, just passed through the Senate and on its way to Parliament, allows the police to place Trojans onto computers of interest and to obtain any information they might need from the Servers. An Internet lawyer says: 'between this new law, the Law of Intellectual Property, the latest reforms in the Penal Law and the (so-called) Gag Law (Mordaza), the result is a brutal reverse in Internet rights and liberties. At a stroke, we lose all our privacy...'. From The Entertainer Online.

So who makes those 175 kms of razor-sharp barbed wire that Hungary is raising along its frontier? Step forward a Spanish company from Málaga which operates, internationally, as ‘European Security Fencing’. Story here.

Associated Press has published its collection of videos about the Spanish Civil War on YouTube. You can find some of them here.

Spain has been distracted this week with a bull-baiting event called ‘El Toro de la Vega’ held in Tordesillas, a small town in Valladolid. A single bull is chased through the campo by lancers who attempt (this year as most, successfully) to kill it. Many thousands of ‘animalistas’ made every attempt to stop the barbarity, while making themselves look – as often as not – rather silly. Here’s El Huff Post and here’s The Olive Press on the subject. An editorial in El Mundo says ‘no to the Toro de la Vega, but yes to the corrida’.

Why do young men like to ‘run with the bulls? Well, because it’s fun, exiting and a tiny bit dangerous. The Guardian has a fuller answer here.

‘A sea of tricornios’ (the Guardia Civil’s three-cornered hat). That’s the title of a report in El País that the GC are to hold a protest in Madrid (!) on November 14th for better conditions and a parity with the National Police.

Why are the shellfish in Galicia’s estuaries dying off? El País in English has the story.

It’s practically heresy to criticise the ‘Sea of Plastic’, los invernaderos de Almería, but the litter of plastic waste which, following a storm, is washed through the ramblas and chokes the coast-line is reported by Serbal together with photos here.

In Almería, the Tortuga Mora – a fairly common local tortoise - must be handed in to the authorities (Seprona), who will then place this ‘rare and endangered’ creature in a reserve built with European funds in the high inland town of Vélez Blanco. Where they will catch respiratory diseases and die of the cold (obviously). In Murcia, things are even worse, according to a report published by La Opinion de Murcia. Hundreds have been wilfully killed at the ‘Centro de Recuperación de la Fauna Silvestre de El Valle’ near Librilla. The centre itself admits that many have respiratory problems and cannot be released into the wild. Perhaps our friends the ecologistas could just leave them alone?

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See Spain

 

Spain’s top ten museums here.

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Finally:

 

‘Gitano sings in English’ (sort of). Good stuff on YouTube with Frank Diago here. {jcomments off}

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