22 de febrero de 2020, 19:42:14

Weekly Report

Business over Tapas (Nº 311)

  • A digest of this week's Spanish financial, political and social news aimed primarily at Foreign Property Owners: Prepared by Lenox Napier. Consultant: José Antonio Sierra

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One of the services of my mobile phone is to send news items which, through clever algorithms, can decide that the owner of the device – me in this case – might be interested in viewing. Some of these make their way to Business over Tapas, since my phone is tuned, through a process somewhere between supply and demand (and outright spying on my viewing habits) to Spanish news (plus a sprinkling of Brexit stuff, but that’s another story). One of the stories that came up on Monday was an item from The Olive Press telling me of the ‘Grisly fate of Pamplona bulls during Spain’s famous San Fermin festival’. Apparently, they end up in the bull ring where they are killed. Well, golly gee, who knew?

The EWN calls it ‘the Festival of Cruelty’ in an editorial and wants the bull-running banned (the Pamplona burgers raking in 165 million euros during the festival in 2017 – here - would likely disagree). Elsewhere, the British embassy was offering tips on how to enjoy the Pamplona festival on Facebook last week, and got shot down in flames by hundreds of irate expats here. We foreigners, free sheets and expats both, know what is best for our Spanish friends, apparently.

The Pamplona bullring is the fourth largest in the world, at 19,720 people. There were bullfights this year (here) for ten days. Bullfights are expensive – (El País claimed back in 2008 that a first class bullfight would cost the promoter around 90,000€ a pop) and of course no one would bankroll them if they lost money. According to Temas de Empresa here, ‘The Fiesta del Toro is an economic engine that not only generates employment but also produces good returns and feeds thousands of families. According to the Junta de Andalucía in Spain this sector moves 2,500 million euros and in Andalucía about 500 million. As for the number of employment, the Fiesta Nacional is worth somewhere between 180,000 and 200,000 direct jobs...’. They probably exaggerate slightly, as one does.

Bullfighting is a sensitive issue of course – most Europeans don’t like it – but to misrepresent it so banally to the expatriate readers to, what, gather ‘likes’ on the Facebook page (?) seems a little silly, because it begs the larger question – what else is being misrepresented in the expat press?

In other news, and no doubt to the disgust of the anti-taurinos, the Coliseo Balear de Palma de Mallorca celebrates its ninetieth anniversary this year and they will have a bullfight there on August 9th – the first since the recent local prohibitions were cast down as unlawful by the Spanish government.


‘A new report from Tinsa has revealed a notable upsurge in building along the Spanish coastline. Some 57% of coastal areas are now constructing new homes, compared to 50% this time last year. Torrevieja, Orihuela and Mijas are leading the trend, with more licences approved in 2018 than any other area, excluding the provincial capitals...’. The Leader reports here.

An amusing article from Forbes here on Galicia’s villages for sale: ‘Selling a house is a frustrating, time-consuming venture at the best of times—so imagine trying to sell an entire village...’.


‘Spain’s Campsites hope to reach record figures this summer. National campers are up one more year and now represent around 65% of the total camping population’. Hosteltur says the camping business in Spain should receive about forty million overnight stays in 2019.

Contrainformación, which describes itself as ‘uncomfortable journalism’, says ‘more tourism equals more poverty’. It begins: ‘The tourist-real estate industry has enjoyed a certain social consensus, underpinned almost exclusively by the claims that "we live on tourism" or "tourism generates wealth": a notion that the media have hammered constantly. However, the statistical data, as well as the lives of thousands of people living in the tourism sector, show that this maxim is false. According to an analysis by Ecologists in Action, the poorest municipalities in the regions where tourism has the most weight are precisely those in which the tourism sector has saturated 100% of their economies: Torrevieja and Benidorm in the Valencian Region or Lloret de Mar in Catalonia...’. In short, the souvenir-shops do well, but the short season and ‘tourist monoculture’ keeps most of the money firmly in the hoteliers’ hands.

La Voz de Almería seems pleased to report that ‘International tourism has risen in the province by 1,300% in just eight years’. These agreeable figures come from counting the passengers that have passed through the local airport.

The worst (and safest) countries in the world for solo female travel. The safest: Spain. Here.


From Dependencia we read that residences are getting expensive, with some increasing their charges this year by up to 50%. There’s business in the elderly, notes the article sadly. ‘In recent years, residences for the elderly in Spain have become a strategic market for large European groups, as well as funds and investors. The merger and acquisition processes of residential centres have played a large part in the news of the sector. As a result, the price of homes for the elderly has risen by 50% in 2019, according to data from a geriatric management consultancy...’. The same site links to a list of all residences in Spain here.


From The Corner (‘ the only financial and economic website in English which originates in Spain and targets international readers...’) here: ‘Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez has barely a week to secure a parliamentary majority or risk returning to the ballot boxes for the fourth election in as many years. After nearly three months of debates and negotiations following the general election on 28 April, the first vote in the Spanish parliament on the formation of a government led by Sánchez will be on 23 July. The possibility of new elections or a period in which Spain is led by a weak minority government with limited ability to carry out reforms could limit Spain´s credit rating, currently A-, despite solid annual economic growth above 2% and a record performance of 10 year public debt below 0.3%. Spain needs a new government to tackle the country´s underlying economic vulnerabilities, ranging from elevated public debt and a rigid labour market to low productivity...’.

From Eye on Spain we read of ‘A welcome change in the pension contribution system means part-time workers will no longer have to spend longer in employment to qualify for an earnings-based retirement fund – a move that is expected to affect around 1.6 million people who, at present, are not in full-time jobs. Full details will be released shortly in the daily State Official Bulletin, a hefty publication containing government announcements, but the basic outline of the reform has been explained in national media pending the finer points...’.

‘Green light for Operation Chamartín with the support of Más Madrid, PP y Cs. It will be the largest urban operation in Spain in the coming years with an impact of almost 20,000 million euros and 241,700 jobs’. The gigantic new urbanisation, officially known as Madrid Nuevo Norte, will be built outwards from the Chamartín area and supposes 10,496 homes and other support buildings and areas. El País has the story here.

The acting Government has gone ahead and ordered 346 armoured vehicles for the military from the American General Dynamics for 2,100 million euros says El País here.

‘Donald Trump will veto Nadia Calviño as head of the IMF if Spain approves the 'Google Tax' (a tax on the leading multinational cyber companies worth to Hacienda around 1,200 million per year). The threat has come through the US embassy in Madrid...’. An item from El Confidencial Digital here.


From El País in English comes: ‘Acting Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez says the deal with Podemos is dead in the water. Speaking on Monday morning on the Cadena SER radio network, the Socialist politician said that the left-wing party has refused an offer of places in the Cabinet’. The article recalls that ‘...While the PSOE won the April 28 election with 123 seats, this is shy of an overall majority. Unidas Podemos came in fourth with 42 lawmakers, behind the Popular Party (66) and Ciudadanos (57). But the latter two groups have refused to back Sánchez’s bid, leaving the anti-austerity group and a collection of smaller regional parties to negotiate with...’. explains the issue which stops a possible alliance between Pedro Sánchez and Unidas Podemos. ‘Pedro Sánchez is willing to accept ministers of the UP in his Government but wants a low profile coalition: without Pablo Iglesias in the Council of Ministers and negotiating each appointment for "qualified" candidates. Pablo Iglesias meanwhile, says that he will not accept any other option than a coalition government proportional to the votes of each party and without previous vetoes...’. The PSOE ‘...doesn’t want a second government within the Government’ while the UP says that their deputies’ support ‘won’t be for free’.

Another election later this year? El Huff Post pencils in November 10th here.

Following several important resignations, ‘The situation in Ciudadanos leads the party to convene a new general council for July 29. This conclave follows after the one held in June, where Albert Rivera allayed the internal crisis that triggered the departure of Toni Roldán’. The story at El Confidencial here. On Wednesday, came another major resignation, here.

Will Ciudadanos break up, asks El Confidencial Digital in a readers’ poll? Not likely, say the majority…

Portugal, there’s so much to learn from the neighbour says in an editorial here.


From Reach here: ‘Boris Johnson Promises Full Involvement of Gibraltar in No Deal’.


From the (evidently right wing) PanAm Post here: ‘How the Left Drives Robbery in Spain. “Tourists go home,” said the roofs of usurped houses. Backed by left-wing political parties, the “squatters” encourage theft and discourage investment’. We read that ‘...Squatting is rampant for two precise reasons. First, because the ideology behind this is socialism, it is an ideology of thieves and slackers who want to live at the expense of others. On the other hand, various socialist political parties that control Spanish institutions defended squatters. The lax and gentle laws do not condemn squatters or protect homeowners. Thus, the institutions and the law encourage squatters to occupy homes while property owners are left defenceless...’. Good stuff.

‘The BBVA silenced their espionage using the ex-commissioner José Manuel Villarejo: "If this gets out, we will have a huge mess on our hands". A new recording of the head of security at the bank reveals that the entity manoeuvred to hide that it had contracted Villarejo to spy on the constructor Fernando Martin in 2009’. El Confidencial has the story (and the recording) here.


A Granada court has sentenced the activist doctor Jesús Candel, known as "Spiriman", to pay a fine of 6,480 euros and to compensate the former president of the Junta de Andalucía Susana Díaz for a calling her names... Digital Sevilla reports here.

‘A Court has reversed the sentence on the ex-mayoress of Madrid Ana Botella (PP) for the massive sale of 5,315 protected apartments to 'vulture funds' in 2013. The absolution, by two votes against one, is signed by two conservative councillors, including the ex-minister Margarita Mariscal de Gante’. Ana Botella is José María Aznar’s wife. The previous sentence ruled that Ms Botella and her co-defendants should pay compensation of 22.7 million euros. Nice to see some things never change. El País reports here.


El Confidencial again: ‘Ximo Puig receives 11,000€ in dividends from the same newspaper where he has placed 600,000 in advertising. The current president of the Valencian Government decided to maintain his participation in 'Mediterráneo' despite the fact that other political partners had delivered their shares to the PSOE’. Institutional advertising spreads public money in interesting ways.


‘Spain is once again the leader of renewable energy in Europe: investments triple to 3,700 million euros in the first half of 2019’, headline from El Periódico de la Energía here. From El País in English comes ‘Spain turns its back on coal, as use of the fossil fuel falls to historic lows. May and June saw the lowest levels of consumption for electricity generation since records began, helped by the low cost of natural gas and environmental taxes’.

The gas-stations lose some five hundred euros each time somebody buys an electric car says VoxPópuli here.

The Office of the Prosecutor investigates the "alarming" decrease in the water level in the Albufera de Valencia (famous wetlands here). The public prosecutor asks for coercive fines to the Drainage Board before "the seriousness of the damage and the balance and environmental sustainability". Item from El País here.


So, what’s the deal – is growing weed legal? It depends on the judge, says here.

Spanish number plates used to be simple – they had the province and a number. AL was Almería, and A was Alicante and so on. Perhaps those with number plates from the Basque Country, while on holiday in the south, were targeted by numbskulls, who knows. Perhaps they ran out of numbers (M-9999-ZZ). At any rate, the plate-system was changed in 2000 to a more anodyne A to Z with (for some reason) no vowels. B to Z, then. The various plates are explained here by NeoMotor, including the new blue taxi plates...

‘Restoration work has finally begun on Málaga City’s stunning 10th century Gibralfaro Castle. Vital repairs to deteriorated parts of the building, and improved drainage, are among the priorities of the work. A total of seventeen different parts of the landmark will undergo a facelift, including bricks at the main entrance, tower walls, marble columns, walkways and water pumps...’. From The Olive Press here.

It’s a drain on our finances, says the emergency 24 hour service, picking up drunks in Magaluf. The story is at El Confidencial here. ‘The drunken and drugged tourists in Magaluf (Mallorca) generate a huge expenditure of health resources. The professionals are tired of enduring them and suffering their aggressions. ... The pressure of the tourists (99% Brits, says the local hospital) who overdid it in Magaluf is so great that the Ministry of Health has provided an exclusive ambulance just for them...’.

A British runner in the Pamplona San Fermines, at The Spectator here: ‘...The course is 825 metres long, or just over half a mile, and the bulls can cover it in two minutes 20 seconds on a good run. For the human runners, life isn’t so easy...’.

All day looking for this bather who had disappeared off the Rastrell de Roses beach in Catalonia. Eventually they found him, tired, dehydrated but undoubtedly pleased with himself, in a brothel in la Jonquera.

See Spain:

All of those ‘beautiful villages’ lists. Now there’s one been put together by architects for a change. From El País comes their favourites, with photos.

Emma Randle lives in La Chanca, the ‘gypsy quarter’ of Almería City. Her latest post on her blog is about how the neighbours survive the heat...


On ‘Spain Comes Fourth’ (here): Oh... then...if bankers say so... it must be true !! Ingrid.

On 'Beer consumption in Pamplona quadruples over the nine-day-long fiestas' (here). I cannot imagine anything more hideous than this fiesta. Jenny


Joao Gilberto died earlier this month in his native Rio de Janeiro. It’s a great time to take his iconic album with his wife Astrud and Stan Getz, recorded back in 1963, for a spin.

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