Business Over Tapas 15 September 2016 Nº 177

15 Septiembre 2016 740 votos

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Editorial:

What to do with Rita Barberá? She was the mayoress of Valencia from 1991 to 2015 – Valencia, coincidentally the regional hub of the Partido Popular’s corruption issues over the past twenty years. Rita, of course, knew nothing. Then, she became a senator, with the cast-iron guarantee of being an aforada, of having full immunity.

Following the second lot of inconclusive national elections in June, The Partido Popular wants to govern the country, and has accepted a deal from the Ciudadanos party. No more corruption. And evidently, no more mathematicians either. The numbers just didn’t add up. Now, Ciudadanos says they won’t continue their support for the PP candidature in the event of some rendition from the Other Side (maybe the PSOE leader will be pushed by his party into an end-game) unless Rita goes.

So, Wednesday was the big day for Rita – would she resign from the Senate or would she be eased out by Rajoy? In the end, to the surprise of all, it was neither.

Rita Barberá has resigned from the Partido Popular, but she has kept her seat in the Senate. Still immune and no secrets spilled.

...

Housing:

Spanish house prices will continue to rise forecast BBVA’ An article at Mark Stücklin’s Spanish Property Insight here – ‘...the second half of the year might not be as good as the first half, cautions BBVA, as economic growth might moderate in the face of political headwinds as the gridlock in Madrid starts to drag on the economy and consumer demand..’.

From International Adviser: ‘British expats sue Rothschild over Spanish property scheme. Four pensioners have filed a High Court action against the investment bank, accusing it of mistreatment in a scheme which allowed them to take out mortgage worth up to 75% of the value of their Spanish homes. The proceeds were then invested with an insurance company to provide an income, however the pensioners claim investment did not perform as well as promised, leaving them unable to pay off their mortgages which had to be repaid this year..’.

...

Tourism:

Spaniards spent 16% less on their summer holidays this year than they did in 2015, with many spending under 500€ on their vacation. The average spend is estimated at 973€ per person. More here.

From Wolf Street comes an interesting article called ‘Barcelona just Declared War on Airbnb (and its Hosts)’. Barcelona is so full of tourists that many residents are unhappy with the deluge – ‘in 2015 the city, with a total permanent population of 1.7 million, drew 8.3 million visitors (and that’s just those who stayed in hotels), almost a million more than the year before and a five-fold increase on the 1990 total’. The article notes: the campaign: ‘...is about protecting its own racket. Local hotels, hostels, pensiones, B&Bs, and registered tourist apartments all contribute handsomely to government coffers. By contrast, unregistered tourist apartments pay nary a cent...’.

...

Finance:

As noted last week, not much of the public bail-out money to the banks was or will be returned. The Cadena Ser reports this week: ‘The Bank of Spain has acknowledged that, so far, only 5% of the 51,303,000 bail-out has been recovered while admitting that 26,300 million has been lost forever, despite the Government promise at the time of the crisis that the public would not be affected. The figure represents more than it costs to pay unemployment benefits in a whole year...’.

An article in Yahoo Finance considers the ‘Brutal Impact of the “Sun Tax” in numbers’. The article says ‘...In 2015, worldwide investment in photovoltaic solar energy was161,000 million dollars . A figure considerably higher than wind power ($110,000 million). China installed 15,200 MW; 11,000 Japan and the US 7,300MW. Countries without much sunshine like the UK beat Spain with the construction of 3,500 MW; Germany dropped back to 1,450 MW and France, with 450MW was almost ten times the figure boasted by Spain. Indeed, Spain managed the derisory figure of 49 MW, which is paradoxically higher than that recorded in 2014 (22 MW), which was still more ridiculous. The rationale, according to UNEF (la Unión Española Fotovoltaica), is the existence of "administrative barriers" which, among other things, "protect electrical lobbies"...’.

From Sur in English: ‘Spain missed out on collecting 6.2 billion euros (6,200 million) in VAT revenue in 2014, 8.88% of what it should have collected, a report has shown. The missing money was down to fraud, tax evasion, bankruptcies and statistical errors, according to the annual VAT Gap study out this week from the European Commission. Despite the high amounts, it was a reduction of just over 3% on last year’s data...’.

Spain’s pensions ‘nest egg’ is bleeding cash. Figures show this. But when included in a ranking which compares it with other countries, then the result is even worse. The Social Security’s Reserve Fund has gone from 67th place in the world ranking of pension funds by volume of assets to not even being in the top 100, according to BS Markets. One of the most repeated headlines in the economic press over the last few years is the withdrawal of significant amounts of money from the Reserve Fund...’. Found at The Corner.

...

Politics:

Susana Díaz, the PSOE heavyweight, party secretary and president of the Junta de Andalucía has spoken: ‘you can’t run the country with just 85 deputies’, she tells Pedro Sánchez. ‘You must mount an effective opposition’, she adds. The story is at El País. Supporting this view is another powerful figure in the PSOE, Guillermo Fernández Vara, the President of the Junta de Extremadura (here). Other barones also weigh in against him here. The question is, how much longer has Pedro Sánchez got?

...

Corruption:

Enchufísmo: a job or influence from a powerful friend. It’s common enough and, in an article called ‘Historias del enchufismo andaluz’ at El Confidencial, examples are almost comical. The article speaks of a man who for three years was the Director of the Centro Andaluz de Flamenco, which paid a generous 2,000 euros a month... yet the man in question not only never went to any meeting – it turned out he was not even aware of his post. Then there were two directors of the Filmoteca de Andalucía, both paid, but only one worked (the other one was the son of an ex-mayor from Jaén)....

...

Catalonia:

Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets across Catalonia on Sunday to support a break from Spain which local leaders want to deliver for next year in spite of legal blocks by the central government. Catalans gathered in five cities across the north-eastern region, including Barcelona, and waved yellow banners in time to music, symbolizing the rhythm of a beating heart uniting an independent republic...’. More at Reuters here.

The Spanish Secret Conflict’: a documentary about Catalonia from 2012. ‘This documentary tries to approach the real situation in Catalonia throughout recent historical events, to explain what is going on there so we can understand the causes and reasons why the Catalan people wants to get independence from Spain’. In English at YouTube here.

...

Courts

Luis Bárcenas, the ex-treasurer of the Partido Popular, has announced that he is withdrawing his suit against the PP for the destruction of the computers holding the party accounts. The reason, Mr Bárcenas says he can’t afford the court-case. El Diario wonders if he hasn’t struck a deal...

Spain’s Supreme Court announced on Tuesday it was to investigate Rita Barberá for money laundering offenses allegedly committed during her 24 years as the Popular Party’s (PP) mayor of Valencia. The top tribunal will be looking into her supposed role as part of an illegal financing network that is thought to have operated out of Valencia City Hall, and that has already seen most of Barberá’s team accused of corruption...’. From El País in English. There’s a video report from the Cadena Ser here. As seen in this week’s editorial above, Ms Barberá abruptly resigned from the PP on Wednesday afternoon, but has kept her seat (and her condition of aforada) in the Senate as an Independent. In a statement, she said that she had agreed to leave the PP, as she had been asked to go, but that she would remain as a senator, since ‘to resign would show some assumption of culpability’.

From The Olive Press: ‘Two former mayors are finally being hauled before the courts over the next month. Former Casares (Cádiz) mayor Juan Sánchez is facing 18 years in prison and a €2.5 million fine for his role in the infamous Majestic property scandal. Sánchez will be tried on October 24 over allegations that he took millions in bribes from Russian mafia boss Ricardo Fanchini and cohorts Robert Gaspar and Robert Mani in return for building licences. Meanwhile, disgraced ex-Gaucín (Málaga) mayor Francisco Corbacho will appear at Malaga’s Penal Court Number 4 on September 20, although the Gaucín Town Hall refuses to confirm the charges.

...

Brexit:

A visa to visit Europe, designed just for citizens of the United Kingdom? Such a thing doesn’t sound possible, but the story is gaining traction. El Español says ‘Brexit: a fifty pound visa for the British travelling to Europe’. The article begins: ‘Europe is unwilling to let the Brexit be a cheap divorce. As noted by the British Interior Minister Amber Rudd, the European authorities negotiating with the United Kingdom the conditions of departure have raised the idea of the creation of a special visa for the British for each time they step on European territory: 50 pounds, around 59€ ...’. A contributor to The Guardian notes that ‘...intentions for travelling would need to be clearly stated online and applications could, in theory, be denied...’He adds ominously, ‘...The new scheme is believed to be part of a wider response to curtail the free movement of terrorists across European borders, but there’s no reason why it can’t also be directed at curbing the free movement of football hooligans as well...’.

British expats could be forced to apply for long-term residency visas if they want to live in Europe post-Brexit, Home Office sources have said. The changes, which will form part of the Brexit negotiations, would mean British pensioners who want to retire to Spain or Italy would have to apply for a residency permit and could be forced to prove their income in order to settle. People who already live abroad are unlikely to be affected by the changes under reciprocal agreements expected to be signed when the UK leaves the union...’. Story at The Telegraph.

From The Guardian: ‘The chances of EU citizens settled in Britain retaining all their rights to live, work and retire in the UK after Brexit have been rated as zero by legal experts. A leading barrister who specialises in international public law told a House of Lords panel on Tuesday it was “inconceivable” that the laws would survive entirely intact. Prof Alan Vaughan Lowe QC said this was the price millions of people – including 1.3 million Britons abroad and 3 million non-Britons living in the UK – were likely to pay for Brexit...’.

......

Media:

The European Commission has formally submitted its new Copyright Directive to the European Parliament for consideration. Despite opposition from a 100,000-strong network of civil society groups and Internet users, the directive includes plans for a new Link Tax — granting sweeping new powers to publishing giants to charge fees when snippets of text are used in hyperlinks. From Open Media. If this goes through, would BoT in future editions have to drop certain links, bringing readers to the original material? Who would this help exactly?

...

Various:

...An intense heat wave has occurred in recent days in the Iberian Peninsula with a site in Spain, Sanlucar La Mayor, measuring 46.4°C (115.5°F) on Monday, September 5th. This (if verified) would be the hottest temperature ever observed anywhere in Europe during the month of September...’, sober reading from Weather Underground here.

The PACMA (Rover for President) political group gathered 4,000 protestors against the toros in Madrid on Saturday (and much media attention). On the same day, says El Mundo, attempting to put things in perspective, 38,000 bullfight fans filled four bullrings...

Let’s hear it for Spain’s ugliest roundabouts. Here are twenty two of them (pictures).

...

See Spain:

From JLL España, ‘Spain, a country of abandoned villages’. There are about 3,000 of them – many for sale (although, you may want to think twice before buying one)...

The hippie party at Las Hurdes which nobody knew was happening... Around 6,000 people met at the Lost Theory gig (23 – 29 August). ‘Just three overdoses, one alcoholic coma, no fights, but since they all walk about barefoot, sixteen scorpion stings’, said a surprised Cruz Roja spokesperson. So where is Las Hurdes? Ahh, that would be telling!

...

Finally:

The final executions in Spain of five members of ETA (another six were commuted to life imprisonment after a huge international outcry) occurred in September 1975 in Francoist Spain. A popular singer-songwriter Luis Eduardo Aute wrote a song about the event called ‘Al Alba’ (after the longest night comes the dawn). The version here on YouTube is by Rosa León. Luis Eduardo Aute himself is reported to be very ill in a hospital in Madrid.

 

Business Over Tapas 15 September 2016 Nº 177

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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