Business over Tapas May 17 2018 Nº 257

17 Mayo 2018  Sección; Especiales 365 votos

Editorial:

It seems that every week we have polls. The latest ones of interest are those of the type that foresee ‘the intention to vote if elections were held now’. Nationally, the latest poll gives the two new parties (we quote El País) the leadership, with C’s (Ciudadanos) with a nine point lead over UP (Union Podemos), but both of these are in front of the PP, lying in third place, and just behind them in fourth, the PSOE.

 

We can see how the Partido Popular are in trouble, with their endless scandals, corruption and (we return to the polls) poor leadership (‘65% of PP voters would prefer that Rajoy gave way to another candidate’), but what of Pedro Sánchez and his PSOE. Wasn’t he chosen in a massive popular swing over the Andalusian Susana Díaz only a few months ago? Indeed, the PSOE considers the latest (depressing) poll results to be ‘conspiranoia’. Good word!

Madrid also has a poll, giving the surprise result that C’s is the largest party and noting that supposed coalition of C’s and PP would wrest control of the ruling Ahora Madrid (a local Podemos offshoot) back to the heady days of growth. The poll comes from El País. Capitalism for the Capital, so to speak.

We have also considered the powers of the media to manipulate. The question is, are the polls – so far we have looked at Metroscopia (connected to El País) and Sigma Dos (El Mundo) – themselves manipulative?

The surveys that are being currently published are designed to influence rather than report on the results’. The observation comes from El Asterisk here. Polls today are presented as a form of ‘pre-truth’ says the article. ‘The credibility of the El País polls is once again in evidence’, says Podemos referring to a (what turned out to be a wildly wrong) result from two years ago. An article at El Diario called ‘Will free elections be replaced by opinion polls?’ comically notes that El Español must stand outside the doors of the head office of Ciudadanos to conduct its own survey. More seriously, they say: ‘The disparate results of the surveys of these days and their variety of objectives should raise the alarm. Marketing cannot replace politics: demoscopy cannot take the role of democracy’.

Unsure who to vote for in these trying times, the electorate may take some advice from the media and heed what they are told by the polls. It’s not just Russian bots out there helping us to decide...

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Housing:

From Spanish Property Insight: ‘Touristic rentals in Mallorca and the Balearics: the new position’. A lawyer’s view here.

Rental prices throughout Spain are already up 12 times higher than wages’. El Mundo reports on city rentals here. A graphic also shows the increase in rents in regional capitals.

Rentals have risen hugely in Barcelona recently (here) as they have in Madrid (here).

An article from Pound Sterling Live: ‘Spain's Fading Tourism Boom Could Impact on House Prices Popular with Expats’. The competition – Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey are all bouncing back. An excerpt: ‘..."Brexit could have greater negative effects on the Spanish economy if a protracted slowdown dents Britons' purchasing power and translates into a mixture of fewer UK visitors, shorter stays and lower daily spending," says Roberto Scholtes Ruiz, chief investment officer for Spain at Swiss-based investment bank UBS...’.

But, on the bright side... ‘In spite of the Brexit threat, Spain is still the favourite retirement destination for Britons. Figures from the UK’s Office of National Statistics confirm what British expat retirees have always known – Spain is the preferred choice for British pensioners looking for a new life in Europe. Reasons given include the obvious such as sun, sea, leisure facilities and the healthy Mediterranean diet, with the unspoken truth nowadays being that most can’t wait to get out before Brexit brings the country to its knees. Of the three-quarters of a million British citizens living in EU member states, 37 per cent are domiciled in Spain, with a total of around 293,500 estimated to be living in the country. The actual numbers may be higher as not all British arrivals bother to register with their local authority, and 41 per cent of the given total are over the age of 65...’. The story comes from emigrate.co.uk here. (Where on earth did they get the figure of 293,500?).

The colony of pensioners from wealthy countries falls more than 20% in Málaga, according to La Opinión de Málaga here. ‘The Costa del Sol sees the fall in the presence of the largest number of foreigners from Europe, with Germany experiencing the greatest subsidence, with a 47.5% drop. The United Kingdom and the Nordic countries are also falling, while those of France and Ireland are rising...’.

The homeowners association, Abusos Urbanisticos Almanzora NO (AUAN), has requested a meeting, via an open letter, with the leaders of each of the political groups in the Parliament of Andalucía seeking their support for urgent measures to resolve the issue of illegal houses once and for all. According to the associations president, Maura Hillen, “This time around, thanks to the support of the Partido Popular, we have managed to get an amendment to the Planning Laws (LOUA) before the parliament of Andalucía which, if passed, will allow homeowners awaiting legalisation via a town plan to obtain an AFO, a document which would allow them to register their house, segregate their land, access services and sell it ( if they wish) whilst the town hall gets on with the process of legalising the property via a fully approved town plan. Currently, homeowners awaiting total legalisation via a town plan are trapped in a legal limbo until a lengthy planning process, which can take more than a decade, is approved and executed. It is a matter of human rights as well as common sense. We see people trapped in a home that they cannot sell due to lack of paperwork, sometimes unable to legally access services and seeing their home embargoed as collateral to pay their promoter’s debts because the property is still registered in the promoter’s name and cannot be transferred currently until the legalisation process is complete" (press release). The story is covered in the Spanish press here.

Not that the idiots in the Junta don’t know what they’re doing, but here’s a list of forty moribund Almería pueblos.

The number of pueblos with no children under the age of five reaches worrisome proportions, says La Ser here: ‘In Spain, there are 1,027 municipalities where no birth has been recorded in the past five years’.

The publicly-owned buildings bought in Madrid in 2013from the previous town hall (ex-mayor Ana Botella, the wife of José María Aznar) by the Blackstone vulture fund, have increased in value from 200 million euros to 1,000 million, says El Independiente here.

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Tourism:

From Hosteltur, ‘Under the slogan "my town is not for sale" - Neighbourhood groups from all over Spain are firmly against private tourist housing’. (Do the hoteliers agree – gracious yes!)

Mallorca: rich people, bad drugs, shit music: nobody wins’. So says the sticker which illustrates an article on ‘turismofobia’ in Preferente here.

Thomas Cook set to call time on boozy Club 18-30. After almost 50 years of providing infamous parties for young Brits abroad, the travel company is set to sell the brand to cater to millennials' changing holiday tastes’. The story at The Olive Press here.

The old days of wandering around the Alhambra Palace in Granada or the Great Mosque in Córdoba are no longer. Now it is large herds of tourists being hurried along by guides in the former and a maelstrom of people milling around aimlessly in the latter. Colin Davies discusses his recent visit to both of these attractions here and here. A taste of his visit to the Great Mosque: ‘...I admit to finding it hard to stomach the numerous guided groups which clog the narrow streets of Spain's glorious medieval quarters. But visiting the Great Mosque in Córdoba for the second time was a personal nightmare. Maybe my recollection is wrong but I have a memory of last time being virtually alone there, stupefied by the beauty of it all. This time it was like a bloody railway station on a busy main line. Hundreds and hundreds of folk wandering noisily around, taking endless selfies...’.

...

Seniors:

An article on liquidising one’s assets. ‘Almost 20,000 retirees transform the sale of real estate or shares into life annuities’. Cinco Días looks at the proposal.

The family network disappears’. A major article from El Independiente. ‘The number of older people living alone is skyrocketing. In Spain, a country where care has traditionally been provided by the family, the challenge is greater than in other neighbouring countries that have developed more public resources to manage ageing...’.

A residence for the elderly in El Palo, Málaga, has featured recently in El Confidencial as ‘a house of horrors’. ‘...This centre for the elderly, with 99 residents and a staff of 135 workers, has become an extensive catalogue of horrors: there are no doctors in the afternoon or on weekends (the centre has not had its own since the end of April either); the elderly suffer from malnutrition and are not adequately or regularly cleaned. There are burglaries inside the rooms...’.

From Eye on Spain: ‘POLL: Are you in favour of making Euthanasia legal?’ Here.

...

Finance:

From El Mundo: ‘The tailwinds that had saved Spain are running out: expensive oil, less tourism and an end to free money’. The piece begins: ‘The former Minister of Economy, Luis de Guindos, always defended that Spain had been able to take advantage of the so-called tailwinds better than any other country. That low interest rates or the fall of oil "play into everyone's hands", but that the Spanish economy grew "almost twice as much as the euro zone". However, these constant references by Guindos - as well as by all the members of the Government - to the good economic management of Mariano Rajoy's Executive failed to hide the obvious: that external factors were key to Spain's beginning to emerge from the crisis. And so the exhaustion of those winds that is now taking place is just as dangerous as its arrival in the past was beneficial...’.

The human resource company Randstad expects that during the coming months of June, July and August, 619,110 contracts will be signed in sectors linked to tourism such as commerce, hotels, restaurants, transport and entertainment, which represents an increase of 12% over the previous year and almost double (94.5%) the figure recorded in 2010...’. How do they arrive at such an exact figure? Hosteltur has the article here.

Trump's slamming of the Iran nuclear agreement leaves Spanish business there on a limb worth 150,000 million euros’. From VozPópuli here.

Spain beats its own record with 4,300 million euros in weapons exports. Saudi Arabia is the country’s best client outside of the European Union and NATO’. El País in English has more here.

The Madrid City Hall closes its accounts again with a 1,120 million surplus and pays back 450 million in debt in 2017’. Headline from El Diario here.

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Politics:

How has Pedro Sánchez’ star dropped from epic to routine in such a short time? Is the leader of the PSOE the wrong person for the job, or is the media to blame for ignoring him? A report at El Diario here.

The new president of Catalonia, the unfortunately named Quim Torra, is not only an elitist cataloony, says El Mundo, but he also hates Spanish speakers who, we are told, are ‘beasts, hyenas, vipers and scavengers’. Just the chap to lower tensions...

The Spanish president is the only EU leader to not attend summit with Kosovo. Four other member states of the Union do not recognise the Balkan country but will nevertheless be present at the meeting today (Thursday). Vilaweb in English has the story here.

Why Are So Many Democracies Breaking Down?’ asks The New York Times, mentioning (in passing) Spain (also in Público here). El Diario has a long hard look at Spain’s position in their own article ‘Democracy can vanish overnight’. Chapter and verse here.

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Corruption:

The University of the Rey Juan Carlos scandal of fake masters’ degrees, which finally took down Cristina Cifuentes earlier this month, is now putting pressure on another PP regional politician, Pablo Casado for a similar paper-trail. (Another scandal, from this time last year involving improper political funding, did Cifuentes no harm at all). Is the issue of fake degrees all it takes? El Diario reports here. According to LaSexta, there are at least another ten ‘Master’s VIP’ from the disgraced university still to be revealed.

A former president of the Council of Europe’s parliamentary assembly will be banned from holding any senior post in the human rights body for 10 years, after a major corruption inquiry into vote-rigging. The unprecedented punishment has been handed down to the Spanish senator Pedro Agramunt, who has ignored calls to resign. He is backed by Spain’s governing conservative party – itself mired in domestic corruption scandals – to which he belongs...’. From The Guardian here.

Scam artists from Portugal are targeting British expats in Spain with phony inheritance letters. The letter told her she was to inherit more than seven million Australian dollars (€4.4 million)’. Headline from The Olive Press.

Casos aislados’: isolated cases that aren’t so abnormal... Casos Aislados documents the political fraud in Spain here. They claim the bounty currently stands at 204,120,858,992€.

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Catalonia:

Recent events in both Spain and Catalonia are summed up here by Tim Parfitt.

The new President of Catalonia is Quim Torra. La Vanguardia says that Torra ‘...offers dialogue to both Rajoy and Juncker but promises to "make Catalonia a republic"’.

A famous radio host, Federico Jiménez Losantos, thinks on his es.radio that the only solution for Barcelona is for Madrid to shell the place. Many make the point that, Losantos being a far-right commentator, nothing will happen to him. La Vanguardia has the story with video (Indeed, a left-wing rapper has set Losantos’ remarks to music to everyone’s discomfort). El País hasn’t much to say in a positive light about Catalonia either: ‘...Does Mr Torra, with his savage xenophobia, represent today's separatist movement?...’.

A new survey showed that 48% of Catalans now support independence (up 8% since February) whilst 43.7% are against it. Details at La Vanguardia here.

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Courts:

Remember those tourists complaining about stomach upsets while on holiday in Spain? ‘The woman at the centre of the food poisoning fraud scandal admits selling tourist data.

Speaking in a Spanish court, Laura Cameron said she earned €5,600 for every thousand names she collected, but denies having ever spoken about faking illness’. More on this story at El País in English here.

The rapper Valtonyc has just ten days to report to prison says El Mundo here. His songs insulted the Royal Family and supported ETA (Whoops!). He has three and a half years to look forward to. Now another rapper is in trouble with the law. Ayax is up in from of the court with the prosecution asking for six years for his improper songs and opinions.

The 15M organisation is commemorating its rise seven years ago this week while lamenting the fall in the Freedom of Expression says El Diario here.

The BBC News looks at a famous whistleblower. ‘Hervé Falciani's life in Spain is far from normal. A fugitive from Swiss justice since 2009, this former HSBC computer systems analyst turned anti-fraud activist is constantly on the move. He has faced threats to his life considered credible enough by Spanish authorities to provide him with bodyguards...’.

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The Housing Sector

The Demand for Housing

by Andrew Brociner

In the last issue, we saw that sales have risen in quite a number of areas, with a national average of 7%. We have also seen, however, that this rise has not been passed onto an increase in prices.

If we look to see what this increase in demand consists of, we see that it is very much second-hand properties which are exchanging hands, and not new ones.

This extends the trend we have been on for some years. Whereas before, demand for new and used properties was on par, in the last few years, there has been a large and growing discrepancy between the two. Ever since that time, sales of used property has continued steadily on an upward trend, whereas sales of new property has continuously decreased. In recent years as well, the trends have cancelled out, leading to stagnant overall sales. Now that the sales of new properties has more or less stabilised at a very low level, the continued sales of used ones is what is beginning to pull total sales up.

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Brexit:

From Yahoo News: ‘Brexit, austerity and immigration policies 'have made UK more racist'’

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Media:

The new fake-news fighter Google News has been launched – in every western country except Spain, thanks to the threat of the AEDE union of Spanish daily newspapers and its (failed but not forgotten) ‘Google Tax’ against aggregators. El Español has the story.

From VerTele: ‘The European Parliament will ask the government for written explanations on the manipulation and censorship on RTVE’.

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Ecology:

Six hunters are being investigated for a rash of poisoned dogs in the Calpe, Benissa and Teulada municipalities of the Costa Blanca. The story here.

Cotorras (those large screechy Argentinean escaped parrots which have set up colonies in city parks) versus Giant Bats! Now there’s a title. The war takes place in the parks of Seville says El Confidencial here. The parrots are winning...

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Various:

Seven advantages of making a Spanish will’, by a lawyer here.

Lottery prizes up to 10,000€ will be tax exempt says Hacienda here.

A quote from Jesús Alfonso Ayala Toledo (a Mexican journalist): “At the international level, the greatest opponent of Anglo-Saxon globalization is the Hispanic culture, which is why there is a constant interest in attacking and, if possible, suppressing the Spanish language, the Catholic faith and bullfighting: three of the greatest exponents of this culture. Culture unites us and union makes us stronger, let us defend our own”.

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See Spain:

Two hours away from Barcelona, one can visit the medieval town of Rupit (with video) here.

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Finally:

La Cabina was a one-off TV drama (at 35 minutes) which aired in 1972. While I never watch the TV, I happened to see this in its entirety. Fantastic! This ‘scary’ film won an Emmy. It is presented here with an introduction on the RTVE video channel or here on YouTube (with subtitles).

 

Business over Tapas May 17 2018 Nº 257

A digest of this week's Spanish financial, political and social news aimed primarily at Foreign Property Owners:

With Lenox Napier and Andrew Brociner. Consultant: José Antonio Sierra

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