Business Over Tapas 25 June 2015 Nº 118

25 Junio 2015  Sección; Especiales 2330 votos

Editorial:

The anti-establishment mayor and councillors of Madrid have taken a massive drop in their wages, receiving much less than the PP or Ciudadanos opposition. They have also spurned the use of official cars. The Mayor and her staff won’t use the reserved seats in the Las Ventas bullring or the Teatro Real. All very principled. But, later this year, we have the military parades with the King and his Generals. Will the Madrid leaders skip this no doubt provocative event? Which brings a larger question: how long can the Old Guard (the Royals, the bankers, the industrialists, the military, the foreign investors and the right-wing in general) put up with the insults of the ‘indignant’ Town Halls of Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Cádiz and others?

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Housing:

According to Idealista, the ‘post-crisis’ buyer is looking for a smaller and cheaper home. The site quotes a specialist in house-sales as saying ‘...we appear to be leaving behind the ‘crisis’ as a moderate speed, and sales are encouraging due to the better work and funding conditions...’.

‘Spanish households spend 24% of their annual family budget on paying their mortgage or home rental fees, according to a report prepared by property portal, pisos.com, based on data from the National Statistics Institute’s latest Household Budget Survey. Specifically, rental payments require 26.18% of the family budget, while mortgage payments take an average of 21.69%...’. Found at Kyero.

A large commercial centre, the Al Kasar at the Condado de Alhama, in Murcia (a former Polaris World project), has been bought by Chinese investors. See Spanish News Today.

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Tourism:

That silly suggestion of reducing the size of hand luggage by 40% has been dropped by the IATA, says Agent Travel here.

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Finance:

 

Since the crisis began, the number of ‘rich people’ in Spain has grown by 40% which shows that there is always room for opportunity during the bad times. Spain now can count on 178,000 people with an elevated patrimony, an increase from 2008 of another 50,900 of them (how did they do it?). A rich person, or rather ‘a High Net Worth Individual’, will have over a million dollars in investments, besides his home and trinkets. Story at Nueva Tribuna.

From The Guardian: ‘As Greece stares into the abyss, has Spain escaped from crisis? Three years ago the country faced an Athens-style bailout. Now the shadow of collapse has lifted - but the young and jobless are still struggling...’.

The mansion in Pedralbes, Barcelona, belonging to Iñaki Urdangarin and the Princess Cristina has been sold for almost seven million euros, which will help move the wheels of justice in the Noos Case. But who has bought it? Step forward an opaque corporation from Luxembourg called the Matsoto Foundation. Who might they be? Not a chance of knowing, says El Español here.

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Politics:

 

Mariano Rajoy’s Government shuffle was a fizz in the end, with just a few second-tier changes. Indeed, according to the Euro Mundo Global, Rajoy insists he has no intention of changing his executive before the November elections, ‘especially’, he said on Monday in a press conference, ‘after our policies are beginning to bear fruit’.

Standing in front of a giant Spanish flag, the leader and candidate for the PSOE Pedro Sánchez said that his party would concentrate on ending unemployment and corruption. Something they’ve had a singular lack of success in achieving in Andalucía in 35 years. The event was the acceptance by the Federal Committee of Sánchez as the candidate for the November General Elections. Story at El Mundo.

Here in a wide-ranging interview with the Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias in the British New Left Review is the bit which may be longest remembered: ‘...Our vital goal this year is to overtake PSOE—an essential pre-condition for political change in Spain, even if we don’t manage to outstrip the PP. The hypothesis of the Socialists undertaking a 180-degree turn and rejecting austerity policies, so that we could reach an understanding with them, will only come into play if we effectively outdo them. At that stage, PSOE will either accept the leadership of Podemos or commit political suicide by submitting to that of the PP...’.

Following a meeting between Podemos and IU leaders Pablo Iglesias and Alberto Garzón, it was announced by the former that there would be no common leftist front in the General Elections of November. More at El País.

Happy? Few people are with the eventual results of the recent elections. According to El País in English, some 57% are unhappy with the pacts obtained by the different parties. This includes 64% of Ciudadanos voters...

From The Guardian: ‘Journalists in Spain believe press freedom is in danger of being undermined ahead of national elections due in November this year. Some of them argue that freedom of expression, which has been enshrined in the constitution since the end of Franco’s dictatorship, is under threat both openly and behind the scenes...’. It’s certainly true that the Government seeks to control the news as far as is feasible... More? Iniciativa y Debate says that the mainstream Spanish press is the least believed by its readers in Europe. Finally, the control of the Media in ‘Beyond Propaganda’ at Foreign Policy.

Who is Mario Blanke, the new Belgian mayor of Alcaucín? Article at The Olive Press.

‘The new head of the PSOE in Torrevieja, Fanny Serrano, gave her first interview to the British press this week, denying the rumours that the International Residents Office is to close. One of the most speculated issues has been the threatened closure of the International Residents Office. This has been vehemently denied. Serrano said, “absolutely not. I couldn´t believe that you asked that question...’. Found at The Leader.

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Corruption:

A major document in pdf called ‘La España Que se Roba. Crónica de un Expolio’.

The three main opposition parties in Andalucía (which between them make a majority) have agreed to a full investigation into the ‘Operación Edu’ scandal, which is described by the PP as ‘the mother of all corruption’, worth perhaps as much as 6,000 million euros. The PSOE says it ‘will study’ the proposal to join forces with the other groups. El País reports.

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Brexit:

So (not that anyone in Westminster cares), what does Gibraltar think about a possible ‘Brexit’? According to El País in English, ‘A UK referendum on European Union membership has sparked concerns on the Rock’. Apart from Gibraltar’s trade with Europe, the main concern is its very existence. ‘Leaving the EU would greatly help those who want to create problems for us. It’s only EU rules that prevents Spain from closing the border’, says Gibraltar’s First Minister, Fabián Picardo. Also in El País here tailed with the usual silly commentaries about El Peñon.

An interesting view on the subject comes from an article in The View (a useful Costa Blanca magazine). What would happen to Britons living in Europe and would a successful ‘out’ vote be followed by an abrupt British departure from Europe? These doubts (partially) answered by the Director of the Bruges Group, Robert Oulds: ‘Though there is much discussion about migration from the rest of the EU to the UK, 1.8 million UK citizens live in other EU states. They take advantage of the free movement of persons – a right enshrined in EU treaties. Those that have established a residency, which will include both living and owning property, in an EU member state will have their rights protected upon withdrawal. This entitlement is known as an ‘executed right’. Article 70 b. of the Vienna Convention states that the withdrawal from a treaty ‘Does not affect any right, obligation or legal situation of the parties created through the execution of the treaty prior to its termination.’ Adding ‘With regards to your question about leaving, this is dependent not upon the referendum but on the Government notifying the EU that the UK wants to leave. This is known as an Article 50 notification. Following that the UK would leave two years after that notification is given’...

But, as to the return of work permits, visas and other issues, the article is unclear.

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Senate Hearings:

Helen and Len Prior, British retirees whose property in Vera, Almería was demolished without compensation in 2008 on the orders of the Administrative Court when planning permission for their property was revoked and, consequently, have been living in their former garage for over seven years whilst seeking compensation for the loss of their home, lent their support to a group of associations from across Spain, including AMA from Cantabria, AUAN from Almería and SOHA from Málaga, who together represent thousands of homeowners who spent their life savings on their homes only to find themselves facing the prospect of demolition as a result of planning disputes not of their making.

The associations had asked for a change to Spanish Administrative Law to guarantee prior compensation to purchasers in good faith if their home must be demolished. The change, to be approved by the Senate on 25th June, is in line with recent changes to the Criminal Code which was amended in March of this year after a long campaign by homeowners groups. (updated from AUAN press release). A telephone call from the Priors to Lenox at Business over Tapas on Wednesday afternoon, told of their success in helping push the changes through after an audience on Wednesday morning in the Senate. Later: La Voz de Almería confirms the story here.

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Various:

 

Analysis: Many are examining political motives behind Madrid’s offer to grant citizenship to expelled Jews’ descendants. Article at Aljazeera. ‘The official rationale for last week’s extraordinary announcement by the Spanish government that it would offer citizenship to descendants of Jews expelled from 15th century Spain is simple: to right a historical wrong. But so many ethnic, national and religious groups have suffered grave injustices over the last 500 years — with few perpetrators ever accepting responsibility, let alone attempting restitution — that Madrid’s announcement has become something of a curiosity...’.

 

With the eyebrow raising title: ‘In Spain, Solar Energy Storage is Worse Than Nuclear Spillage’, Planetsave weighs in on Spain’s war against the battery. ‘Storing solar energy in a battery in Spain is more criminal than spilling radioactive waste. That’s the implied message written between the lines of a recently drafted law poised for fast-track approval by the government of Spain. Proposed fines for residential and SME use of solar energy self-consumption will be as high as €60 million...’.

While watching Catalonian efforts for independence, don’t forget the Basques. Here’s The Local: ‘Thousands of people formed human chains in cities across Spain's wealthy northern Basque Country on Sunday to call for the right to hold a regional referendum on independence. Demonstrators held long multi-coloured cloths as they marched through the Basque capital Vitoria, commercial hub Bilbao and the seaside resort of San Sebastian, as well as through Pamplona in the neighbouring Navarra region, which has a huge Basque-speaking population...’. And while the sanguinary years of the ETA may be over, there is still concern in certain quarters about ETA prisoners being held as far away from their families as might be possible (see El País here). And while on the subject, here is ‘Free Arnaldo Ortegi’ (the imprisoned political leader), - a video in English. The history of the ‘Basque Conflict’ here.

Historians have once again been disappointed, as the Minister for Defence refuses to declassify archives stretching from 1931 to 1968 (47 years ago!) with the frankly pathetic excuse that ‘this is not an important priority’. The Spanish Civil War and Franco archives – perhaps some 10,000 boxes and files – were declared ‘secret’ in the 1968 Ley de Secretos Oficiales. No date for declassification has ever been given by the Ministry. Historians lament that, for information about Spain’s recent past, they must travel to the United Kingdom or France for useful material.

‘Given how braying, shocking headlines about Magaluf have become a tradition around this time of the year, a new pan-European survey naming Brits as the most prudish of all seems a tad out of place. According to 6,000 or so people questioned across the continent, English people tend to be more shy and conservative on the beach than their Spanish or Italian counterparts...’. From The Guardian. So which is it?

The mayor of Catral in Alicante dressed himself up as Rita Barberá (deposed PP mayor of Valencia) to open the local fiestas. Story and video here.

Twenty one million people around the world are learning Spanish as a foreign language, says Crónicas de la Emigración here.

I hate Spainan essay from a disillusioned ex-pat. (The BoT team doesn’t agree with this)

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See Spain

 

Orson Wells was always rather partial to Ávila. (YouTube here).

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Deflation Updated

by Andrew Brociner

We have seen how Spain is experiencing a period of declining prices, with this trend continuing for two years and registering negative values for inflation in every month for a straight year. We have already discussed the implications of this deflationary phenomenon as well as pointed out the ECB's cause for concern.

Price inflation in Spain is consistently below the European average and is one of the lowest in Europe apart from Greece and Bulgaria. Europe as a whole has an inflation rate of around zero and clearly the ECB has been pursuing expansionary monetary policy with this in mind.

                                                   

The latest data for the month of May is now in and is looking better than in the previous months. Spain's inflation rate in May was – 0,3% which, while still below zero, has been climbing since hitting – 1,5% in January.

It seems that the ECB's expansionary policies are beginning to take effect as the trend is similar among the euro area countries. The dollar/euro exchange rate has fallen a great deal from its peak at nearly 1,4 in May of last year to its current level of around 1,1. This depreciation of the euro raises inflation through imports and contributes to the overall increase in the price level. The ECB will be pursuing expansionary monetary policies for the foreseeable future and while we are beginning to see the effects, we will continue monitoring the data for confirmation.

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Finally:

 

Seventy minutes of The Gypsy Kings on YouTube here.

Business Over Tapas

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

with Lenox Napier and Andrew Brociner

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