Business Over Tapas 8 September 2016 Nº 176

08 Septiembre 2016 894 votos

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Editorial:

Brexit remains a subject of cardinal importance for the British living in Spain. Recent news from the UK says that the Prime Minister is beginning to back away from some of the worst parts of the Fortress Britain plan, such as the end of free movement. The BBC, in an article titled ‘Brexit may bring difficult times, says Theresa May’. Dated on September 4th, includes the interesting sentence: ‘The prime minister said she was "very clear" that she expected the status of British citizens in other EU countries to be guaranteed and would "guarantee the status of EU citizens living here"’. A later article from Sky News says that May ‘Rejects Points-Based Immigration System’ (a horrible idea from the hard Brexiters), although the British ex-pats are not out of the woods yet, as the article notes: ‘..."What I say is the voice of the British people was very clear. They wanted control in the issue of the movement of people coming in from the European Union. "They didn't want free movement to continue as it has done in the past. We will be going out there to deliver on that." She added: "There is no single silver bullet that is the answer in terms of dealing with immigration. People voted for control. What they wanted to see was some control in the movement of people from EU countries into the UK." Mrs May repeated her desire for EU nationals to be allowed to stay in the UK after the referendum vote - but only if the rights of Britons overseas are respected...'.

So, it would seem that those who talk of ‘hostages’ are not entirely wrong.

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Housing:

What’s your offer? From Mark Stücklin’s Spanish Property Insight: ‘The average offer made in July was 20.9% below the asking price, according to data from the Spanish property portal Idealista.com, based on offers made via the portal. This invites the question, how low should you pitch a starting offer when buying property in Spain? Idealista has a tool that allows potential buyers to communicate an offer to vendors, who can reply if they are interested. Idealista tracks these offers, and compares them to asking prices, with more than 2 million offers tracked since 2010...’.

From The Express: ‘When sterling plunged after Brexit many Britons feared their dreams of buying a foreign property were over, but that has changed as the pound rallies. The UK economy remains stable after the initial referendum shock, and sterling is clawing back losses against both the dollar and euro. Dire warnings that Britons may lose their right to live in popular retirement destinations such as Spain and France after the UK leaves the EU look overblown. Brexit Britons are still avid buyers of foreign homes... (and so on)

Property Investor Today is equally sanguine: ‘With Spanish property market conditions continuing to improve, there was a significant rise in foreign demand for property in the country in the second quarter of the year with British purchasers still by far the biggest group of overseas investors. According to new figures released by the Spanish land registry, foreign buyers were involved in 14,429 of the home sales recorded in Q2 2016, up 29.1% compared with the corresponding period last year...’.

Although The Wall Street Journal says the opposite: ‘The British demand for Spanish homes during the past several years has been like the Mediterranean summer sun: unrelenting. But now a cloud called Brexit has moved over the market. Britons are by far the biggest foreign buyers of property in Spain, snapping up one in five of the homes purchased by foreigners in 2015. But since the U.K. voted to leave the European Union on June 23, sending sterling down against the euro, demand has slackened...’.

Is it worth buying a home from the bank, asks El País. It begins by saying that while the banks have a lot of property (at sale prices), much of it is not worth buying – indeed ‘the best has already been sold’. There is some 63,000 million euros worth of property in the Big Six banks here, with ‘a few more being added each day’. As always, look and consider carefully before you buy. Remember, someone lost his life’s savings on that property...

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Tourism:

Foreign tourists spent 42,942 million euros in Spain up to the end of July, according to Agent Travel - an increase over 2015 of almost 8%. The British led in spending, followed by the Germans.

From the same site, we read: ‘Rural hotel bookings fell in the summer by over 10%’.

Complaints against Balearic hotels from British sources are ‘fake – designed to give a bad image of the holiday islands’, say the Mallorca Hotel Federation. It seems that some British shyster-lawyers are encouraging false complaints in an effort to skin the tour-operators.

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Finance:

In answer to a claim raised in the British press that the average pension in Spain was a juicy 2,200 euros a month (sic), here’s an article from El País from April which says that the average pension has just topped 900€ per month.

From Público: a million unemployed have lost all benefits – the paro – since Rajoy has been the president. This comes from the harsher conditions to obtain the dole and the increasing number of unemployed who have run out their course. Today, just 53.7% of the unemployed receive any benefits. ‘One of every four unemployed in the Eurozone is Spanish’, says El Español here.

Spain recoups just 5% of €51.3 billion (51,300 million) bank restructuring cost. Some four-fifths of the bill was financed by the European Central Bank’s €40bn bailout in 2012. The cost to Spanish taxpayers of restructuring the country’s banking sector since 2009 has been €51.3 billion, of which just 5%, or €2.7 billion, has been recovered so far. That’s according to a report released on Tuesday by the Bank of Spain...’. From El País in English here. The subject is also treated by LaSexta: video and report here.

(Playing on the PSOE’s fault that we don’t have a government) ‘Spain’s socialist party PSOE doesn’t seem to be too worried about the fact the country may not have a 2017 Budget. But it’s increasingly clear to all of us that the lack of a budget will not be without a cost. On the contrary, it will greatly affect a large part of Spanish society. Almost all economists believe that the impossibility of drawing up new accounts, and updating certain items, could mean that the amount spent on civil servants’ salaries will be maintained. So that means there will no wage hikes in the various public administrations, particularly if this implies an increase in aggregate spending...’. From The Corner here.

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Politics:

With Mariano Rajoy having failed to get the majority he needed last week, what can happen now in Spain’s peculiar political impasse? El País in English notes that ‘...there could be several more investiture attempts before November 1, when new elections must be automatically called. In theory, the king could ask Rajoy to try again, or else turn to candidates from other parties. It is even theoretically possible for candidates who are not even deputies in Congress to step up to the plate, since the only requirements set out in the Spanish Constitution are for the prime ministerial candidate to have Spanish citizenship and be of legal age...’. If all else fails, then elections once again, at the end of the year (but not Christmas Day, everyone has agreed: maybe December 18th instead). For Rajoy, a further problem emerges, with the court inquiries into both the Gürtel (Wiki) (with Luis Bárcenas spilling the beans) and Black Credit Card (Miguel Blesa, Rodrigo Rato) scandals beginning in October. El Diario has the story here. Rajoy meanwhile insists that he will continue as the candidate for the Partido Popular.

A massive political fuss blew up and has (perhaps) disappeared over the last few days. The Government proposed a disgraced ex-minister for a job at the World Bank. Bloomberg reports ‘Spain Proposes Panama Leaks Minister Soria for World Bank Job’. The proposal came through just as Rajoy and Ciudadanos leader Rivera were smiling over their (so-called) anti-corruption pact. From Guerra Eterna: ‘Some days it's hard to be Albert Rivera. Not many perhaps, but Friday was one of them. To be more exact, just after the defeat of Rajoy in the second ballot of his inauguration when a few minutes later the media reported the government's decision to provide a golden retirement to the disgraced ex-energy minister Jose Manuel Soria over at the World Bank. As golden as they can be with a salary of 226,000 euros per year. Tax-free. The latter is an important detail for someone like Soria if we remember the business of his companies in tax havens. Just a few days ago, Rivera thought he was on the crest of the wave, surfing this tumultuous political moment as if he were on the beaches of California. In announcing the agreement with the PP, the leader of Ciudadanos couldn’t help but boast: "The new political centre drags the old left and the old right towards regeneration and reform." And with harsh anti-corruption measures included, he said...’. Tricky. After a few days where even Partido Popular deputies were making noises about the untenable situation, Soria says he’s declining the honour after all.

Perhaps the harshest criticism of Rajoy we’ve ever seen comes from Infolibre with ‘It’s not just another piece of evil, it’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to our democracy’, includes the point that ‘...Rajoy cannot captain the fight against corruption because he is not the antidote, but the symptom, the invisible head...’. Meanwhile, the PP leadership is artfully blaming the Acting Minister for the Economy Luis de Guindos for the debacle.

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Catalonia:

Puigdemont: ‘Catalonia has stopped Rajoy from becoming President’. Catalan pro-independence parties ERC and PDC have both said that they would be willing to vote ‘yes’ to a new Spanish government if it recognises the right of Catalonia to hold a referendum’. Story at Vilaweb here.

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Courts

A wealthy Catalonian business family was facing major prison time for money-laundering plus 170 million euros in fines and a further 71 million in back-tax. The father and son from los Carceller family – they own Damm beer among many other things – were in a bad pass on Monday. By Tuesday, things had taken a turn for the better with a deal with the Court to pay 93 million in fines and the rest of the problem to be quietly forgotten.

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Brexit:

El Mundo has a story on the Europats (here), a group formed by BoT’s Lenox with three friends, Andrew Mortimer, Zurgena councillor Jim Simpson and Jan Frank. Europats is looking for political representation in Brussels for all European citizens who live in another EU country. More on this at Lenox’ Spanish Shilling here.

From The Telegraph: ‘A Spanish college has created a course for British expats living in Spain who are worried about Brexit and want to become Spanish citizens. The Parnell Academy, in Mijas on the Costa del Sol, will begin the "Brexpats Spanish Nationality Course" next week. Its aim is to teach Britons "command of the Spanish language and a general knowledge of its customs, history, culture, politics, sports etc" so that they can pass the Spanish citizenship test...’.

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Various:

The power company Endesa had a rude surprise when it was called in to fix an electrical fault in a four-star hotel in Lloret de Mar, Gerona. The Sun Village hotel had been taking power from an illegal line connected to the city electric. 238 hotel guests were removed to other nearby establishments...

Another work scandal – this time unregistered agricultural workers in the plastic farms of Murcia, hot and long days paid at miserable wages. The report is here.

The First Local Case of Tick-Borne Disease Kills Man in Spain. Authorities are investigating a possible outbreak of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever after identifying apparent local transmission in Western Europe’. Story at Scientific American.

The area is around 500 hectares, an agricultural region with a number of cortijos and farms: producing oranges, grapefruit, olives, aubergine and lettuce. But the ministry has spoken – without this area, a pedaneo from Cuevas del Almanzora in Almería, to be expropriated for a tortoise reserve, there will be no AVE high speed train roaring through the tortoises’ normal habitat nearby. Among other faults here, one is the idea that tortoises move around in herbivorous herds – easy for youthful ecologist volunteers to catch. They don’t. They’ll be lucky to find any. La Opinión de Almería has the sorry tale here. The AUAN association says: ‘Oh honestly and for goodness sake. The authorities want to expropriate the homes of 200 families to create a tortoise sanctuary in Cuevas del Almanzora as part of the project to create the AVE high speed train link. Sign the petition to ask the government to think again. The little blighters will be just as happy somewhere else surely?’. There’s a petition here.

British family left shocked when they stumble across dildo-selling vending machine in Spain. A British family looking for snacks got quite a surprise when they saw what was in the adjacent vending machine. Stuart Norris and wife Debbie, 42, had to shield their two daughters’ eyes when they noticed a machine full of sex toys and lubricants placed next to the usual fizzy drinks and crisps. The story from The Olive Press, adding for good measure, ‘All they wanted was a Wagon Wheel’. Heh!

What Does the Spanish Flag Mean? An irritating video explains in English here.

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See Spain:

Some pictures of the tomatina festival in Buñol, Valencia from The Guardian here.

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Finally:

Como te atreves’ – popular pop with Morat on YouTube here.

Business Over Tapas 8 September 2016 Nº 176

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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