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Editorial:

Last week’s attempt to form a government between the PSOE, Ciudadanos and Podemos was not really in with a chance – as the two smaller parties are incompatible. Now the final attempt to pull something from the fire, a PP Rajoy-led government with the support of Pedro Sánchez holding a Vice-presidency (madness if the PSOE agrees – since any supporter of that party would ask – is this what I voted for?), mixed with – why not? – Ciudadanos support. The Ciudadanos – a kind of ‘right-wing lite’ – meanwhile suggests

that Rajoy should give way to a different PP candidate in order to attract PSOE support.

Then we hear from

El País that the PP is suggesting that the PSOE should drop Sánchez and allow negotiations to take place between the Conservatives and another PSOE leader.

The last day to find some candidature for a government is Monday 25th April and – following a potential candidate’s meeting with the King, and a plenary session on April 28th, votes and so on – either a new government would have been decided or fresh elections would be called on Monday May 2nd – to be held on June 26th. Then of course, fresh elections – which may well prove to return results as difficult to resolve as last December’s – will cost the State another 192,000,000 euros, saysEl Español.

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Housing:

As Spain’s economy picks up, investors are finding opportunities to invest in real estate. Bloombergtells readers that ‘Mexico’s Carlos Slim is pushing further into investments in Spain, where fellow billionaires George Soros and Bill Gates have also made bets, as he wagers on the European nation’s emergence from a property crash...’.

EU data show that Spanish property prices rose by 4.3 per cent last year. The latest house price statistics issued by Eurostat, the EU's statistical bureau, contain mixed information regarding the Spanish property market, with the average price of residential property in this country reported to have remained steady in the last quarter of 2015...’. Item found at Spanish News Today.

According toThe Telegraph (in one of those remarkably un-objective advertorials they sometimes publish), ‘the sun is shining on the Spanish property market again’.

Barcelona: Tourist rental licence ban extended as opposition politicians cry foul. In the teeth of bitter criticism from local opposition parties, City Hall has approved new measures to avoid issuing new tourist rental licences in Barcelona until definitive tourist accommodation regulations are passed...’ From Mark Stücklin’s Spanish Property Insight.

...The holiday rural rental laws that apply in the region of Andalucía, giving us an overview of the Decree in force, the requirements landlords must meet, and how to register your rural holiday rental in Andalucía.’. More at Mark Stücklin’s Spanish Property Insight.

The president of the High Court of Justice in the Administrative Courts in Cantabria, Rafael Losada, has stated that today one cannot take measures to demolish a property without prior compensation to those affected. He states that the law is 'clear' in this regard but goes on to say that what needs to be assessed is if the law can be applied retroactively to pending demolition cases. Story at El Diario Montañés. (Thanks to AUAN for the item)

...

Tourism:

Can you have too many tourists? While the shopkeepers and hoteliers might say ‘no’, the rest of us might say ‘yes’. Here’s The Local: ‘"Tourists go home. Refugees welcome" is just one of the slogans to have appeared this week daubed on the walls of the historic centre of Palma, the capital of the holiday island of Mallorca. "Stop Guiris" and "Tourism is destroying our city" are two of the others in a recent spate of graffiti that is angering visitors and local residents alike. The anti-tourism phrases suggest a growing malaise at the number of holidaymakers crowding into the Balearic capital as residents complain that tourism is destroying local neighbourhoods...’. (‘Guiri’ is a pejorative term meaning foreign tourist’).

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Finance:

IMF makes slight reduction to Spain’s 2016 growth forecast. This time, the Spanish economy did not escape the general downward revisions that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has been so fond of lately. While Spain continues to be the fastest-growing member of the advanced economies, the world body has slightly cut its growth forecast for 2016, down to 2.6% from the 2.7% it predicted in January...’. FromEl País in English.

Spanish nationals and foreign residents, whether self-employed or whose employer deducts their tax at source, have until June 30 to file their tax return in Spain. This year, the Agencia Tributaria, Spain’s internal revenue service, has rolled out a new online system called RENTA WEB, which allows taxpayers to access a draft of their return, and in some cases to directly file it with the Tax Agency...’. FromEl País in English.

El País in English also has this: ‘Spain’s Tax Agency is targeting the owners of apartments who placed rental ads last year – including those on specialized websites such as Airbnb – in a crackdown on unreported income. With the 2015 income tax drive now officially underway, taxpayers who use the new online tax filing program, Renta Web, may find the following message on their computer screen: “According to data in the Tax Agency’s power, you have placed property rental ads in various media, including the internet.”  A similar story at Typically Spanishsays: ‘The Treasury is after 50,000 illegal holiday rentals on the Costa del Sol. The Tax Office is analysing electricity use and internet portals in search of the defrauders and undeclared rentals and leases. The clandestine offer for flats and homes along the Costa del Sol is increasing and also emerging in areas that are not so touristic. Although there is no official number, the technicians in the Treasury have given this estimate of the colossal size.

Thursday, April 7, 2016, could go down in history as a great day for Spanish mortgage holders and a very grim one for many Spanish banks, thanks to a new ruling that the so-called mortgage floor-clauses that were unleashed across the whole financial sector in 2009 are abusive (but not illegal) and lack transparency. These floor clauses set a minimum interest rate — typically of between 3% and 4.5% — for variable-rate mortgages, even if the Euribor drops far below that figure. In other words, the mortgages are only really variable in one direction: upwards!...’. Wolf Street finds more problems for Spain’s banks – says the mortgage ‘floor clauses’ are a fraud.”

Nueva Tribuna, in an article about the ‘Panama Papers’, tax avoidance and so on, notes that, following eight years of crisis in Spain, fourteen million Spaniards are now in poverty. A cartoon in the article has a journalist asking a rich man in a top hat – ‘Will the years of abundance return?’ The oligarch replies ‘did they ever leave?’

The last mayor of Madrid, Ana Botella, sold off in two years 25% of the council-owned dwellings to vulture funds, a little over two thousand homes. El Paísreports.

While Spain continues to thwart private users of alternate energy, elsewhere in the world, use of these techniques grew a hundred times more in 2015 than they did here, according to La Vanguardia. Indeed, as El Ventanonotes, from this past Monday 11th April, based on ‘...the rules approved by the Government of Rajoy, most self-consumption installations in Spain have become illegal. The existence of such installations that have not been adapted to fit in with the new rules will be considered illegal and owners may be fines, according to Greenpeace, which is preparing a petition. In a statement, the environmental organization said that “the PP government seems determined to protect the interests of Iberdrola and other large power companies with these regulations. It prevents further democratization of energy and in no way faces the issue of climate change”. The organization indicates that the Ministry of Industry “has not even detailed how to modify the facilities comply with the complex technical demands required. It makes it impossible to fulfil the obligations it has set!”...’. On Wednesday, Parliament voted to repeal the unpopular ‘impuesto al sol’ or Sun Tax and to ease the private use of alternative energy sources. 

...

Politics:

By now Spain’s political parties have inevitably begun spinning their election wheels, lest the current state of affairs reach a point of no return. The PP and the PSOE are using up their last chances for dialogue with their sights set on the polls, a scenario which presents a number uncertainties that must be resolved...’. FromAra in English.

El País - long the newspaper of the centre-left, is nowadays a tout for the Right. In Saturday's editorial, it calls for a government of national unity with the PP and PSOE (with Ciudadanos support). All the while blaming Podemos for the current situation. This, as an unintended bonus, would naturally mean the end of the PSOE. Mariano for President!

According to a peculiar site called La Maldita, which quotes a survey from the ABC, fresh elections will produce a major fall in the Podemos vote, with a projected drop from 69 to just 45 deputies. IU, says the same source, could rise exponentially from 2 to 11 deputies.

With all the fuss of the ‘Panama Papers’, this week was not a good time for the Minister for Industry José Manuel Soria, who was ‘outed’ by the Media as having had a brief offshore presence in Panama back in 1992. Soria denies the charge. Ideal reports here. The Minister of Justice, perhaps scenting a problem for his colleague, says that ‘Panama is not a fiscal paradise, simply a place with a different tax system’. EMGreports that – until the scandal broke – José Manuel Soria was on the short list to replace Rajoy (if there was such a list).  All good fun. So should Soria resign as a minister? Your vote at Vozpópuli.

While the PSOE call for Soria’s head, an article in the right-wing Periodista Digitalhints that a senior socialist name might be revealed in the next few days as another habitué of Panamanian lawyers... (It sounds rather like José Bono, reading between the lines).

The Izquierda Unida – a union of a number of far-left political groups, has never done very well. Indeed, after thirty years of legal existence, they only managed two deputies in the current Parliament. Perhaps they should throw in their lot with Podemos (which, in their first election, got 69 deputies). But then again, as the largest component in the IU, the Partido Comunista de España, sees things – maybe the IU should be disbanded altogether and some far-left identity re-forged from the ashes.

...

Corruption:

The UDEF anti-fraud police were searching Granada City Hall on Wednesday, looking for proof of alleged planning corruption. So far, as the operation continues, Mayor José Torres Hurtado (PP) was arrested and was later released with charges to answer. Fifteen others are also under investigation. Unfolding story at Ideal.

Anxious to pay his bill with Hacienda for ten million euros, Mario Conde has recently been slipping over to Switzerland and elsewhere to pick up the cash – money he had previously embezzled from his days as director of Banesto. The ex-banker has now been arrested... and imprisoned (along with his lawyer). Vozpópuli has a report here. ‘Another seven people have been detained in the operation against disgraced former Banesto chief Mario Conde. Funds were embezzled from bank in 1980s’. Story at El País in English. The police report that they have found 160,000€ in cash in Mario Conde’s house saysMSN.

The pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has revealed that is fired thirty senior managers and sales executives last November for offering improper inducements to Spanish doctors to recommend their products. Story here.

The Junta de Andalucía has finally admitted that it employs 1,800 people ‘who do nothing’. It says that it is now searching to find them something to do. Heh!Story at El Mundo.

The Galician ‘King of the Gypsies’ is now helping police with their inquiries after being accused of running an extortion racket with several family members. 

...

Courts

Hacienda has issued a fine against the Ex-president of Spain, José María Aznar, for fiddling his taxes! The headline from OKDiariosays: ‘The Minister for the Hacienda, Cristóbal Montoro sets a fine of 70,403 € to Aznar and makes him pay a further 199,052 for tax irregularities. The news inexplicably failed to make the Telediario on Spanish national television. Funny – when a similar item regarding a senior Podemos politician (Montero) occurred a few months ago, it led the TV national news.

The accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers has handed over €37m (£29m) to the Spanish government to save four of its former employees from serving lengthy jail terms for fraud...’. FromThe Guardian.

...

Brexit:

Thousands of UK-based Spaniards could be stripped of their employment rights in the event of a Brexit. It comes as world leaders urged British voters, including Spain’s 319,000 registered expats, to vote to remain in the EU in June’s referendum. The 200,000 Spaniards in the UK could lose free access to the NHS, their social security benefits and require work visas if Britain leaves...’. FromThe Olive Press.

...

Media:

There is a growing number of journalists who worry about seeing their faces on the State-run TV news, the Telediario, with news-manipulation as a scandalous high’, says the Director of the Council for TV Journalists. The story at Público. Noted TV journalist Iñaki Gabilondo says in a short video piece here that ‘the party that wins the election feels that it has been given the public TV to do with as it pleases’.

The editor of a right-leaning cyber-news site called OKDiariohas admitted to a colleague on the leftist Público site that he had been given an anti-Podemos dossier by a source in the Ministry of the Interior with specific instructions on which date to release the material to the public. It is now generally accepted that there exists a behind-the-scenes campaign, called ‘Pisa’ (‘Pablo Iglesias Sociedad Anónima’ or Pablo and Co.), aimed to discredit the party through information ‘leaked to the UDEF anti-delinquent and fraud police’ – which later was shown has been shown a be a hoax created by someone in the Ministry itself. A similar story: ‘Jueces para la Democracia’, an association of left-leaning judges (sic), is concerned about the Ministry of the Interior inspired police investigations into Podemos. They are asking for an explanation from the head of the police department concerned, the UDEF.

The director of El País himself says that the paper version of the newspaper ‘has no future’. This as sales of the daily newspaper (in keeping with all others) continues to fall. From a high just a few years ago of 400,000 copies daily, the newspaper now sells just 126,000. It’s hard to make ends meet with a newspaper, when each copy costs around a euro to print... The story at Media-ticshere.

...

Various:

El País in English turns to the refugee crisis: Brussels rebukes Spain for failing to take in refugees. The Spanish government has not accepted a single person since admitting 18 at the end of 2015. ‘...In March, the Spanish government promised to speed up that rate by accepting 467 new refugees within that same month. But a European Commission report shows that nearly two weeks after the deadline expired, not a single one of those 467 people has arrived on Spanish soil...’.

A learned article at Energy Sceptical looks at Spain’s reasons for withdrawing its subsidies for renewable energies – simply put – they couldn’t afford them.

El Ventano says that the President of Iberdrola has announced that he will close down the nuclear plant at Garoña (Burgos) for ‘economic reasons’.

FromEl País in English: ‘Opponents and supporters of bullfighting are increasingly resorting to economic data to defend their respective positions. Devotees of the activity, who complain about what they call the “bullying tactics” of the animal rights lobby, have now produced a report claiming the sector contributed some €1.6 billion to the Spanish economy in 2013, the year the study was carried out...’. (The reality is – most people in Spain are neither for nor against the Fiesta Nacional).

Around 3,000 pharmacies across Spain are in financial peril, says their guild, La Federación Empresarial de Farmacéuticos Españoles. Spain has 21,000 pharmacies which have the exclusive right to sell prescription drugs – and many other products which, in other countries, might be found in a supermarket...

Buying a bottle of water can be expensive, saysEl Ventano – anything up to a thousand times the price of potable tap water. Sometimes, it’s of a lower standard as well. Who knew?

Coming home after living in another country is not so easy, says a feature in Código Nuevo quoting various sources, including an article from Multilingual Living, which talks about ‘reverse culture shock’.

Públicointroduces us to the puti-barco, a large yacht full of, er, ‘princesses’ that is part of the fleet that belongs to a Saudi prince who is currently in Ibiza.  The flagship of this flotilla is a 147m yacht called the Prince Abdulaziz.

The Local brings some silly stories: 'Here are some of Spain’s strangest stories - you might think they sound like April Fools, but they were all true!’.

The Prado Museum is putting the final touches to a TV documentary on Hieronymus Bosch, ‘The Garden of Dreams’. Here’s the trailer.

Seville: ‘As the famous Feria de Abril gets underway in Seville, here is everything you need to know to enjoy all the fun of the fair!’ FromThe Local (although it fails to mention the bullfights which are a rather large part of the fiesta).

Avila: ‘Standing still in the middle of a Spanish field, the Bulls of Guisando are an unusual quartet of stone quadrupeds that are millenniums old, and though their features are not as defined as they once were, these carved creatures are still a sight to behold...’. An article found at Eye on Spain.

...

Population Continued

by Andrew Brociner

We began to look at population in the housing market and in the last issue we considered some of the wider ramifications of the decline in population. We continue with this topic in this issue.

As we have seen, the recent emigration has contributed to the decrease in population in a reversal of what took place during the boom. But another factor contributing to this decrease in population is the fertility rate. After decades of decline, Spain's fertility rate started rising during the boom. Some of this increase was attributable to the influx of immigrants who had a higher fertility rate. But when the boom ended and they left, the rate started declining again and this tendency has continued.

 

Spain has one of the lowest fertility rates in Europe, along with Portugal and Greece, and at 1.27 is far below the replacement rate for the population, which therefore implies that the population is set to decline further. In its forecast, Eurostat, even when using a higher fertility rate assumption of 1.42, estimates the decrease in the population by about 2 million by 2030 to about 44.5 million.

 

In the longer term, the population of Spain is projected to decrease even further, according to the INE, by a further six million by 2064 to fewer than 41 million people.

 

The low fertility rate implies that the decrease in Spain's population is a structural and long-term phenomenon. In as much as this population decline has different effects, for instance on the housing market and on potential output, as we have seen, its consequences will be with us for a long time. We shall continue to look at more of these effects in the next issue.

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Letters

Hi Lenox: Great page thank-you for taking the time to research and share all this! Kay. (Business over Tapas on Facebook)

...

Finally:

Spain is different... FromColin Davies:

A Very Spanish Tale: Accuracy is not guaranteed . . .

1988: A guy becomes head of a bank. Starts embezzling funds.

1993: The failing bank is bought by the Bank of Spain.

1994: He's arrested after a €3.6bn fraud is uncovered and a 'hole' of €3bn found in the accounts.

1994: He's released on a bond of €12m.

1995: A total of €23 million is found to have 'leaked out' of the bank.

2000: He runs for President.

2000: He's sentenced to 10 years. Enters a 'luxury' jail near Madrid. More than 10 years after the offences were committed.

2002: His sentence is increased to 20 years.

2004: The governor of the jail is sacked for giving him preferential treatment.

2005: He's given 'Grade 3' terms and released on probation, after only 5 years in clink. Or maybe 11.

2008: He again runs for political office.

2016: He's arrested again - along with 6 members of his family - and charged with laundering €14m into Spain from Switzerland, Luxembourg and the UK starting in 1999. One way or another.

Somewhere along the line he capitalised on his 'career' by publishing 2 books. As of now, he's said to be facing another 12 years of porridge. Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy, say some. Anyway, here's the NY Times take on the affair.

 

Business Over TapasMarch 14 2016   Nº 156

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

with Lenox Napier and Andrew Brociner

For subscriptions and other information about this site, go to businessovertapas.com

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***Now with Facebook Page (Like!)***

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