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Business Over Tapas (05th  SEP13)

By Lenox Napier and Andrew Brociner

miércoles 22 de octubre de 2014, 11:21h

A digest of this week's Spanish financial, political and social news aimed primarily at Foreign Property Owners: with Lenox Napier and Andrew Brociner. For subscriptions and other information about this site, go to businessovertapas.com - email:  [email protected]  - Note: Underlined words or phrases are links to the Internet. Right click and press 'Control' on your keyboard to access.

Editorial:

Sometimes, it has to be really hard to be a politician, obliged to put a positive swing on something that's not so great. Yes, unemployment was down in August, but by just 31 places across the entire country – which works out as less than one job per province. Imagine tapping your microphone nervously as you begin your announcement to the Press...

 

Housing:

'The European Commission has quizzed the Spanish government over property rights abuses affecting thousands of Britons following pressure from Lib Dem MEP Phil Bennion, it has emerged. The move comes after the AUAN, an Almería based property rights association, sent letters to 73 MEPs, calling on them to demand an update on the EU Commission's damning 2009 report on property rights abuses in Spain.
Mr Bennion, the West Midlands region MEP, was sufficiently moved to press the European Commissioner for Justice, Viviane Reding, for action. She later confirmed that the Commission had contacted the Spanish authorities over the problem and was "waiting for a response"'... From Costa Almeria News

'An Almerian judge has resolved to suspend the demolition order on a house owned by a British couple in the hope that the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) will rule on the lawsuit brought by the victims against Spain for an alleged violation of the rules of property.

The lawsuit, which was formalized in July, claims that the demolition of the building, which was built with a municipal license issued by the town hall of Albox in 2002 and later overturned in the courts at the request of the Junta de Andalucía, is "an arbitrary and unjust interference" on the right to property contained in articles 1 and 13 of the European Convention of human rights and fundamental freedoms'...  From Europa Press

'One in six properties sold in Spain in the second quarter of 2013 was bought by foreigners, new figures released by Spain's Ministry of Development on Wednesday show.

A total of 16.7 percent of the 80,722 properties sold in Spain in the three-month period were snapped up by foreigners, the figures show. This percentage marks a record since these property statistics were introduced in 2006'...  From The Local.

'Millions of us dream of owning a holiday home, crazy property-struck fools that we are.

Right now, 5.4 million Britons are considering buying abroad, according to HSBC, even more than before the financial crisis. Have we learned nothing?

Spain and the Balearic Islands are the top dream destination, attracting 30% of buyers, followed by France at 16%. Italy, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus, the Caribbean, Florida and Turkey are also dream home hotspots.

If you've been seduced by dreams of a place in the sun, here's a measured word of warning. You've lost your mind, because buying a holiday home is the biggest waste of money ever'... So says AOL Money.

Finance:

From Reuters:  'Spain's shrinking economy came close to stabilizing between April and June but its slump started three months earlier than previously thought, data showed on Thursday last week. Gross domestic product contracted 0.1 percent in the first quarter from a quarter earlier, the National Statistics Institute (INE) said, in line with forecasts and a preliminary reading.

Spanish exports are recovering but domestic demand has remained weak, contributing to a slowing of consumer inflation, which separate data showed hit a four-month low of 1.5 percent in August. The 0.1 percent drop in output was the smallest since the second quarter of 2011 when the economy started to contract, with a rise in exports not strong enough to offset weak domestic demand and inflation easing as the recession dragged on'...

'The number of jobless claims in Spain in August fell for the first time since 2000, but only just. The Labour Ministry said Tuesday that the number of people officially registered as unemployed fell by 31 to 4.698 million from July. However, according to the latest Active Population Survey (EPA) compiled by the National Statistics Institute (INE), the number of people out of work totalled 5.977 million, while the jobless rate was 26.3 percent. The EPA is considered a better gauge of the state of the labour market as it includes people who are looking for work but not registered as unemployed because they are not entitled to benefits'...  From El País in English. A senior PSOE politician nevertheless stated that the latest jobless figures did not include August 31st lay-offs (a number of end-of-season contracts in the service industry).

'The latest report from the World Economic Forum still puts Spain at the back of the global queue in key indicators of competitiveness after the latest reforms. The measures undertaken so far by the Government of Mariano Rajoy hardly suppose a change for Spain in the international classification with respect to the time of Zapatero. The document emphasizes that these are insufficient, but also admits the difficulty of tackling this challenge in full recession'... (from El Mundo). Here's a summary from 'The Global Competitiveness Index 2013–2014: Country Profile Highlights':

'Despite the current difficult conditions, Spain goes up one notch in the rankings to 35th place.  The country continues to leverage its traditional competitiveness strengths in terms of a world-class transport infrastructure (6th), a good use of ICTs (23rd),  and—despite the high unemployment rate—a large and skilled labour force, thanks to one of the highest tertiary education enrolment rates in the world (8th).  Moreover, the country has started to address some of its most pressing challenges. In the past year, Spain undertook sharp public budget cuts that will help improve its still-weak macroeconomic situation; it also

implemented a series of structural reforms to improve the functioning of its goods, labour, and financial markets.

The liberalization of certain services, the implementation of a labour market reform to mitigate the rigidities of a dual labour market, and the restructuring of the banking system are all measures aimed at improving the efficiency in the allocation of resources, whose full

effects are likely to become more visible in the medium term. As a result of these and other measures at the European level, the country has obtained access to international financing markets at a more affordable cost than it had at the time the previous edition of this Report

was released. However, this situation has not translated in an improvement in access to financing for local firms—which still suffer from an important credit crunch—to upgrade or transform their production facilities. Access to financing is regarded as the most problematic factor for doing business, and the country ranks very low in terms of the ease of accessing loans (138th) or other sources of financing, either through equity markets (101th) or venture capital (105th). In addition, the reduction of both public and private budgets for research and innovation could hamper the capacity of local firms to innovate (57th) and contribute to

the economic transformation of the country. Addressing these weaknesses will be crucial in order to bridge the competitiveness gap with Northern European economies the country continues to suffer'.

With the end of the tourist season, the game consists of finding revenue from other sources, and obviously the best way is to sell homes to foreigners. However, the truth is that unlike selling souvenirs, clothing, food or cars, he who buys a home will not pack it up and take it elsewhere but rather plans to become a new neighbour. More homes sold means more strangers in the hen-house'...  From El Indálico.

Corruption:

'...The Partido Popular destroyed the contents of the hard drives of two laptops used by its former Treasurer Luis Bárcenas at the party headquarters in Madrid last April. The two computers were delivered last week to the judge Pablo Ruz, who is investigating the alleged 'B accounts' of the party, according to legal sources'... Says El Mundo.

Colin Davies from Thoughts from Galicia says it best: - 'Finally on the PP . . . It's confirmed that computers used by the ex-treasurer accused of taking and making illegal payments have all had their hard drives wiped. Just before being handed over to the investigating judge. Nothing could better show a balls-out contempt for the judicial process and for the public. Not many of whom, it's reported, believed Sr Rajoy's protestations of innocence last month. And who could blame them?' 

Again I wonder, did Sr Bárcenas make copies? Gosh, I hope not...

Back to School:

From Economía Zero: 'Spain is one of the few developed countries in which schooling can be a considerable economic effort for families, despite the fact that article 27 of the Constitution enshrines the right to study and the same article establishes that "basic education is compulsory and free of charge". Despite this bombastic statement, nearly a third of the Spanish families are unable to take on the expenditure involved in the return to school'... The school book business is outlined in the same article, with the Catholic Church, Hachette Livre and PRISA (El País etc) being the Big Three. The prize is worth 1.2 billion euros per year.

Politics:

'The 'Popular' MEP Alejo Vidal-Quadras surprised his colleagues by suggesting last week that the President of the Government, Mariano Rajoy, should follow the path of the Socialist José Antonio Griñán in relinquishing the Presidency, because "a change in the driving-seat" at this time would be the best way to continue to lead the race and avoid a possible future electoral defeat'... From El Huff Post.

'Critics have hit out at the Spanish government’s latest round of labour reforms arguing they don’t do enough to simplify the hiring process for small and medium sized companies.

The latest wave of reforms will see the choice of labour contracts available reduced from 41 to five, and adjust the subsidies and incentive system for workers. It is hoped the move will further stimulate the jobs market, and further the reforms that were introduced late last year'...  From The Olive Press.

'Spain's justice minister says the conservative government will present by the end of October its proposed changes to the country's abortion law, with the amendments expected to introduce new restrictions on pregnancy terminations.

Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón said Monday in an interview with Radio Nacional de España the alterations "will be in line with the Popular Party's long-standing position" on abortion, though he did not elaborate. The Popular Party has long sided with the Catholic Church on moral and social issues, and fought the previous Socialist government's 2010 abortion law scrapping restrictions up to the 14th week of pregnancy'...  From The Huff Post (USA)

Gibraltar:

'Sales by Spain to Gibraltar of earth and rock have soared since 2010, although they have been consistent for years. In the past three and a half years, Spain has sold the to Gib about a million tons of ore and minerals, worth 18,33 EUR million'... From an always indignant El Mundo ...as the small British colony apparently grows...

'...Can't say I'm terribly surprised to read that 63% of Spaniards were happy with the current pressure being applied to Gibraltar and that 48% of them would support the closing of The Rock's airspace. It is, perhaps, more surprising that only 48% back closing the border but this is probably because most of the people crossing it are Spaniards going to and from work. Overall, it suggests it was a (predictably) smart move for President Rajoy to kick off the nonsense at the start of summer'...  From Thoughts from Galicia. -  The figure follows from the Media's relentless pressure on the opinion of Spaniards, as seen in the survey from the Royal Instituto el Cano here.

'Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo told Congress on Tuesday that the British colony of Gibraltar remains a “national priority” for Spain and slammed the decision by the previous government of Socialist Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero to set up a tripartite forum with Gibraltar, Britain and Spain to discuss issues related to the territory and its relations with Spain'... From El País in English.

With the nationalist Daily Mail from London not far behind: - 'William Hague was today urged to tell the Spanish ambassador to ‘pack his sombrero, straw donkey and sangria’ and get out of London if the aggression towards Gibraltar continues. The Foreign Secretary insisted the Government will never negotiate British sovereignty of Gibraltar over the heads of the territory's people. But DUP MP Ian Paisley Jr urged him to go further and order Federico Trillo to leave the capital if the ‘hostility’ towards Gibraltar is not halted'...

Various:

'Hotels in Mallorca have got together and drawn up a list of guests they don’t want back. Anyone on the blacklist will be denied entry to all Mallorca hotels in the future. Rather sadly, it seems all 219 names on the list are British teenagers who misbehaved over the summer, according to Telecinco'...  Found at David Jackson

'Spaniards are now the fastest-growing group of migrants into the UK, new figures from that country's employment ministry show. The UK saw a 50 percent jump in the number of Spaniards signing onto its national insurance (NI) scheme from March 2012 to 2013, the figures from the UK's Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) reveal.

A total of 45,530 Spaniards joined the scheme which is a prerequisite for accessing the UK's labour market, and welfare and health systems. That was up from a little over 30,000 a year earlier'...  Taken from The Local.

'For many years the Germans have called Mallorca, half jokingly half seriously, as the seventeenth province of Germany. It must be the most visited destination worldwide for the Germans and these visitors probably represent the main source of income for the island. What not everyone knows is that there is an operation going on to avenge the invasion of the island by seeking to snatch a territory from the Germans: Berlin'...  An article from the Goethe Institut about the number of Spaniards choosing the German capital for visiting, residing or working.

Finally:

The Syria Conflict. Last time, following the intransigence of one of America's allies, French Fries became known as Freedom Fries. Currently, things are not looking good for 'English Muffins'...

 

…...

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