Business Over Tapas 20 August 2015 Nº 126

20 Agosto 2015  Sección; Especiales 1212 votos

Editorial:

The eventual national elections – we still don’t have a date – will without any doubt provide no one with an absolute majority, and so we shall enter into the murky world of pacts (which never do anyone much good, it seems).

The Press is helpfully suggesting that Podemos should make friends with the Izquierda Unida, which would have the effect of causing the new party to more or less disappear. A much better and more likely scenario would be a PSOE-Podemos coalition following the results (a scenario which naturally concerns Mariano Rajoy). But first, we have the Catalonian elections, which may prove to be more than the Old Guard can handle.

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Housing:

‘By the end of the year, Spanish property prices are set to rise by 2% on average, says Bankinter commercial bank. And in 2016, some locations could achieve double that gain, with prices up by 4%, reports agent Crystal Shore Properties. There could be 50,000 new home sales in 2015 and up to 80,000 in 2016, according to Bankinter’s report, which has just been published. Altogether, Spanish home sales could reach 380,000 by the end of 2015 and 420,000 in 2016, although they are still far behind peak levels achieved in the mid 2000s...’. The article comes from Opp. Today.

‘There are currently around 700,000 British nationals who own property in Spain. Some are resident there, even more own second or holiday homes, and some simply own investment properties. However, one problem that British owners of Spanish properties have had to contend with is inheritance tax. Until quite recently, residents were taxed at an almost negligible rate but others were subject to excessive and, it has now been ruled, discriminatory levels of tax...’. From Property Secrets.

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Tourism:

The threat to Airbnb (and owners of ‘unregistered tourist apartments’) over in Barcelona.

‘Iberia Handling is going on strike at Málaga airport this Friday and 8,000 passengers will be affected. The stoppage on August 21 will last for two hours between 10 and 12 and will be repeated the following Friday August 28; it has been called by union UGT for the ‘numerous redundancies and accidents in the workplace’...’. From Typically Spanish.

Those Guide Books – Fodor’s, The Rough Guide, Lonely Planet and so on, all put Catalonia down as a separate country (Lonely Planet, for example, apparently says: ‘...Today, Catalonia is officially a semi-autonomous region, but it is perceived as a separate country (crossing the border with Aragon and Valencia and you will soon perceive the difference)...’. Other peculiar opinions in the popular guides include, for example, that Spain is run by the Opus Dei and the Legionarios de Cristo (Fodor’s). Another, Frommer’s, allegedly reckons that ‘groups of the extreme right, particularly from the Falange, still lurk in the political background...’. El País tries to have some fun...

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Finance:

‘The International Monetary Fund warned on Friday that Spain's accelerating economic growth rate is likely to slow in the next few years after picking up to 3.1% by the end of 2015. In its latest report, the IMF said Spain would close out 2016 with 2.5% growth – a figure still above the European average – followed by a continued decline over the next five years, contracting to 1.8% in 2020. In April, the IMF said the Spanish economy would close the year with 2.5% growth and 2% in 2016...’. From El País in English.

The IMF is pleased with Spain’s progress, it seems, but wants to see just a little more. As   El Mundo reports, the IMF recommends changes in the IVA, plus some form of partial payment for medical and education.

According to Europa Press, it’s the small things – the gastos hormiga – that are getting us into trouble. A version of ‘count the pennies’. We spend, for example, 544 euros per annum in bank charges, 984 euros in telephones and Internet, 1911 euros on the car, 1980 euros on the home, 1932 euros on leisure and culture and 2270 euros in the supermarket. But these gastos hormiga are everywhere, the coffee, the snack, the caña, magazines and bus trips, says the article, warning us that there are other drains on our wallets than the mortgage, the rent and the electric bill... (Thanks to José Antonio for this piece)

Public debt currently stands at an eye-watering 98.6% of the PIB. See El País.

The Minister for Industry, Energy and Tourism, José Manuel Soria, is on record at El Mundo as saying that he considers the wages being earned by the presidents and senior management of Spain’s largest companies, enshrined in the IBEX-35, as ‘stratospheric’.

As some banks now charge a two euro ATM use for non-customers, ‘With interest rates at record lows, banks are seeking new ways to bolster revenue from fees as they compete harder to lend in an economy that’s emerging strongly from a five-year slump. Banks are seeking to extend cash machine fees at a time when anger at the fallout of Spain’s financial crisis has already spurred criticism of their industry and helped to propel administrations backed by the anti-austerity party Podemos to power in Madrid and Barcelona...’. The story from Bloomberg.

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Politics:

 

The IMF warns Spain that a government controlled by Podemos would stop this country’s recuperation. ‘...’A key risk would be the reversal of the reforms already implemented, generating uncertainty and perhaps slowing down the recovery, especially if the external environment deteriorates sharply’, said Christine Lagarde recently...’. Story at El Ventano.

‘The greatest problem for Spain – the country needs to find something other than bricks to build with.’ An interesting view from Mundiario here.

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Corruption:

‘Spain's interior minister on Friday denied interfering in a legal case against former IMF chief Rodrigo Rato, saying Rato had sought a controversial meeting with him because he feared for his safety. Jorge Fernandez Diaz has faced a political storm since it emerged he held private talks with Rato, a former deputy prime minister and economy minister, at his ministry on July 29 to discuss what he said were personal matters. Rato, 66, a former leading light in the ruling conservative People's Party who headed the International Monetary Fund from 2004 to 2007, is a target of tax, money-laundering and other investigations. He denies any wrongdoing...’. From Reuters. More on this in the ‘Essay’ below.

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Catalonia:

UPyD has decided not to present a candidature in the Catalonian elections of September 27th. A spokesperson says that the party cannot afford the process. See El País here.

Podemos is walking a fine line in the Catalonian elections, by trying to ease the issues away from Independence. The Party, running with ICV and Esquerra Unida as Catalunya sí que es Pot, wants to run its campaign against austerity. Story at El País.

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Courts:

‘The “investor-state dispute settlement” provision is what would give the new generation of trade treaties such as Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) their “claws and teeth.”...’. Spain is a popular victim to this kind of international complaint, with a current nineteen Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) suits against the SpanishState. See Wolf Street.

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Gibraltar:

‘Down in Gibraltar, their mix of English and Spanish - Llanito - is said to be dying out in favour of English. Some see this decline as a reflection of modern times but others suggest it's being hastened by renewed tensions with Spain. "The damage that Spain has inflicted on Gibraltar with its insults and constant bullying makes it a language of the oppressor,” said one of these recently...’. Found at Colin Davies’ Thoughts From Galicia (a site with a daily take on Spain, written with humour and knowledge).

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Brexit:

From The Guardian: ‘Rush for dual-nationality passports as EU migrants fear Brexit. From work permits to healthcare, pensions to tax, EU citizens in UK and Britons in Europe worry they could be in a precarious position after 2016’s referendum’. What might happen to us following a Brexit? No one knows, or cares really, because we don't have anyone to speak for us or to represent us (that's to say, the 2,000,000 Brits living in Europe), either in Brussels, or in London.

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Essay:

 

Opinion from the Mayoress of Barcelona, Ada Collau Ballano, following the explanations in Parliament about the private visit of Rodrigo Rato to the Interior Minister Jorge Fernández Díaz.  

‘The preference Shares of Bankia ruined thousands of families. Bankia evicted thousands of families. Its bankruptcy cost millions of euros to millions of families who paid for this scam by undergoing unbearable cuts in their basic services. Cuts that have literally cost lives. And behind that "Spanish miracle" that has left behind a trail of victims and a ruined country, one name stands out: Rodrigo Rato.

That guy who was a senior member of the PP, the Minister of Economy and Vice President under Aznar, who grabbed for himself a life of luxury with his black cards while orchestrating the biggest scam of the country and then accepted Rajoy’s government tax amnesty back in 2012.

What might Rato know that (Interior Minister) Fernández Díaz would make a space in his agenda which would automatically leave him open to scandal? What does he know to buy the silence of Rajoy? What does he know that the PP group is obliged to look silly by having to defend the indefensible? Not that the Government is conspicuous by its democratic rigor ... but today, with the appearance of the Minister, it has outdone itself in audacity. Above all, daring to use the word "transparency" is just too much. How outrageous the truth must be that they have had to choose the least bad version, which remains, in any case, outrageous.

Mr. Fernández Díaz, Ministers, Mr. President ... just, please, stop trying to pull the wool over our eyes. You will not get us to resign ourselves to corruption, or your constant abuse and contempt of the Citizens.

Citizens who receive threats go to the police, they make a report and the relevant protocols are activated. I did it myself after the irresponsible statements of Ms. Cifuentes (the PP President of the Madrid Region) and that is what any ordinary citizen would do. But it seems that this government reserves the right to give favourable treatment ... to crooks. Enough. Call for elections, do not offer us more harm’. (The story receives coverage here)

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Various:

‘Increasingly, European governments are easing access to EU residence status and citizenship to wealthy foreigners. Spain is one such country – since September 2013 offering residency to foreigners in return for a significant investment in the country...’. So, who is eligible? Story at Migreat Blog.

The electric companies have reduced the time to pay their bills from twenty to just seven days (or pay daily calculated interest). Can they do this? Facua, the consumer’s association, has warned customers of the changes. El País has the story.

‘Pedro J Ramírez, fired in February 2014 as editor of the paper he founded, El Mundo, is making Spain’s government nervous with his new project, a news website called El Español (here). The Financial Times reports that among its 72 editorial staff are some of the country’s best known investigative reporters and, even though the site’s official launch is still weeks away, it has already signed up almost 9,000 subscribers. Ramírez, in seeking to hold political and economic power to account, echoes arguments by the International Press Institute about state intervention threatening press freedom in Spain...’. From an article in The Guardian. The article ends with this: ‘...With a general election looming at the end of the year, and several corruption scandals simmering away, his [Ramirez’s] scope to embarrass the Rajoy government is likely to be considerable’.

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See Spain:

 

‘The Ancient Synagogue of Barcelona, is located in the centre of Barcelona. It is believed to be the oldest synagogue in Europe...’. From Eye on Spain.

The Córdoba Zoo, Video on YouTube here.

Away from the hordes: Spain's ten most gorgeous seaside towns. The list at The Local.

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Finally:

 

Danone, the famous yoghurt, was named after the Calatonian industrialist inventor’s son ‘Danon’. See video here. The father, a Sephardic Jew called Isaac Carasso who lived in Barcelona, began making his yoghurt commercially (only to be sold in farmacias) in 1919. The company moved to France in 1929. More about them here.

Business Over Tapas

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