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Business Over Tapas (Nº 188)
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Business Over Tapas (Nº 188)

By Lenox Napier and Andrew Brociner

viernes 23 de diciembre de 2016, 01:38h

23DIC16.- 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 - For subscriptions and other information about this site, go to businessovertapas.com - email: [email protected] - ***Now with Facebook Page (Like!)*** - Note: Underlined words or phrases are links to the Internet. Right click and press 'Control' on your keyboard to access. Business over Tapas and its writers are not responsible for unauthorised copying or other improper use of this material.

What makes people trust the news they read?

According to a recent study by The Media Insight Project, there are several critical factors at work. But this one stands out: The majority of readers of online news "believe it is vital ads not interfere."

At Business over Tapas, we make sure that never happens -- because we never run ads.

Editorial:

An interesting year indeed. In Spain, we managed most of the year without a government, and then got the one we expected all along. Along the way, the PSOE collapsed into third place obscurity. In the UK, the appalling Brexit was voted by a small majority and in the USA, an eccentric anti-establishment candidate took the presidency. How does all of this have an impact on foreign residents and investors in Spain? Will the housing market be further affected and could tourist figures stagnate? Could the British living in Spain find themselves excluded from EU privileges? Perhaps more worrying still – could the USA go, in some unexpected way, rogue? We must wait for next year to find out: January 20th is Inauguration Day in the USA for President Trump (or his replacement) and the end of March seems to be the final date for the UK’s decision on leaving the EU.

Housing:

‘US interest in Spanish property up by a quarter - Since the United States Presidential Election there has been a surge in interest for Spanish property from American investors...’. Item from OPP.Today here.

A Murcian group called Baraka has now sealed the deal to buy the emblematic Edificio España in Madrid from the Chinese Wanda Corp. for 272 million euros. El País has more.

‘A British couple have won compensation of 227,000 € for buying an illegal flat in Marbella. The couple made the purchase in good faith and the bank received their money from the real estate promoter which called in the receivers some years after. Although the sentence is open to appeal, the nightmare for this British couple whose dreams were to enjoy retirement in Spain could be reaching its end. A court in Málaga has condemned Banco Popular to return the money it received, 227,000 € to a married couple now back in the UK who had paid in advance for a flat which was never granted an accommodation licence following town planning irregularities...’. Found at Typically Spanish here.

From Enric Climent, the President of the AUN, comes an editorial in the Valencian Levante, which begins: ‘I do not usually have much joy when I read the press, but a few days ago I certainly enjoyed reading through the headlines that were visible in the various newspapers: "Urban agents can no longer re-qualify land"; "Valencia Government reforms the law to avoid ghost town planning"; "The Government frustrates the speculators". Titles which report, or rather announce the work of the Department of Housing and Public Works to modify the Law of Planning, Urbanism and Landscape (known as the ‘Lotup’). This is the third Valencian urban law since 1994...’. Climent is pleased by the changes, but warns of those who made a fortune out of the previous opportunities in the region (one remembers the famous ‘Land Grab’ laws). He adds ‘...But there are some who yearn for those catastrophic times, perhaps because they did well, or indeed very well, enriching themselves at the cost of the ordinary folk in the various outbreaks to which they subjected this community, with the unconditional support of some politicians in the exercise of power. The Federation of Real Estate Developers and Urbanization Agents of the Valencian Community, through its president, now says things like "a proportionality has not been achieved between the protection of the coast and economic activity"...’.

Tourism:

‘British low-cost airline easyJet announced last week that it is planning to start operating 10 new international routes to and from Spain. The company says the new flights on offer will increase the number of seats available to Spain by 11% – 16.4 million in 2017, compared with 14.7 million in 2016. ... The new routes will be Valencia–Hamburg, Valencia–Toulouse, Palma de Mallorca–Venice, Granada–Milan, Granada–Manchester, Bilbao–Paris, Santiago de Compostela–Milan, Murcia–London, and Menorca–London, the company said...’. Found at El País in English here.

‘The Costa del Sol has in the British market its main international customer; In fact, a total of 930,076 British tourists have been registered in the destination up to the end of October, which is 14.6 percent more than in the same period of the previous year...’. Europa Press has the story here.

From Tranio (May 2016) comes a useful article called ‘Know the law: short-term rentals in Spain’.

Finance:

‘The European Court of Justice ruled Wednesday that Spanish banks must reimburse clients who had signed mortgage contracts that unfairly prevented them from benefiting from a steady drop in interest rates. The decision by the Luxembourg-based court caused shares in Spanish lenders to fall with small lender Liberbank leading losses, down over ten percent in mid-morning trading...’. From The Local. El Mundo has more here, including a useful calculator of how much to claim. But, how would I know if my bank had caught me with this ‘cláusula suelo’? The ABC explains here where to find the offending clause in your mortgage contract. Wolf Street sums up the situation in its inimitable style: ‘The European Court of Justice just delivered a landmark ruling that could cost Spanish banks – or Spanish taxpayers, in case of another bailout – billions of euros: 40 out of Spain’s 42 banks will have to refund all the money they surreptitiously overcharged borrowers as a result of the so-called “mortgage floor-clauses” that were unleashed across the whole home mortgage sector in 2009...’.

From El Español: ‘The reform of the Impuesto de Sociedades (Corporation Tax), approved with the votes of PP and PSOE, will force Spanish companies to pay to the Treasury for any losses suffered, an unprecedented fact in our tax history. This anomaly is due to the errors of legislative technique of Royal Decree-Law 3/2016 that was validated last week without discussion or analysis by the parliamentary roll of the PP and PSOE who refused to process it as a bill which would have made it possible to rectify these mistakes...’. This could affect about 60,000 companies.

Some 83.5% of contributors to the tax system earn less than 30,000€ per year, says Economía Abierta quoting information supplied by Hacienda.

While remaining hugely in the red, ‘The debt of the Madrid City Council falls by 19.9% and stands at 4.471 million in the third quarter’ reports La Información here. The mayoress, Manuela Carmena, appears to be doing a good job...

In the famous Christmas lottery, drawn today (Thursday), the winner will be Hacienda (as always). This time for our convenience, reports Nueva Tribuna, the taxes will be previously discounted from the major prizes! A whopping 2,310 million euros were spent on the Christmas lottery this year says the ABC here.

From Reddit comes the intriguing demand: ‘I would like to get an average monthly spending of people living in different areas of Spain’. There are a number of answers...

Politics:

Would Susana Díaz (known popularly as 'Zuzanita') make a good leader for the moribund PSOE? José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero thinks so, and is pushing her as the best candidate for the group. Story at El Diario here. Susana enjoys not only the support of Zapatero, but Felipe Gonzalez as well. Another option for the PSOE might be Paxti López. The other, more popular candidate – at least among the militantes – remains Pedro Sánchez, but as time passes and the congress is (artfully) delayed....

If Susana Díaz became the national party secretary for the PSOE, then another leader for the Andalusian party (and president) must be found, says Juan Cornejo, the secretary for the Organisation of the Andalusian PSOE (and probable winner of the position). Ideal discusses the situation here.

‘Thousands of protesters have marched through Madrid to demonstrate against government austerity cuts. The 30,000-strong rally was organised by Spain’s two main trade unions, the UGT and the CCOO. Protestors demanded a rise in wages and pensions, with around 60 smaller demonstrations recently organised by unions across Spain...’ FromThe Olive Press.

‘José María Aznar, the man who led the Popular Party (PP) to power in 1996, going on to win another term before handing party control to his successor Mariano Rajoy in 2004, has resigned as his party’s honorary president following a long-standing and very public disagreement over policies and strategies...’. From El País in English here. The news originally comes from Aznar’s own webpage here. Aznar will of course remain as an enthusiastic supporter and member of the Partido Popular... El Diario says that Aznar’s resignation is to allow him the luxury of being able to criticise Rajoy to the maximum.

From the Real Instituto elCano think tank comes an analysis called ‘Trump, Rajoy II y el futuro de la relación estratégica entre España y EEUU’. The future relationship between Spain and the USA with Donald Trump as president.

Corruption:

El País reports a massive arrest of Chinese tele-operators involved in a fraud against their own countrymen. Reader Charles has sent a useful explanation:

It deals with almost 300 ethnic Chinese who have just been detained and may face extradition - to where? Those involved have been accused of extorting funds from other Chinese, by telling and threatening them they are under investigation and can be helped (or hurt) by those demanding the funds. Many of those involved in the telephone shakedowns were brought to Spain, told they would be tourist guides, but instead wound up imprisoned in villas working the phones with and intimidating “lower class Chinese”. Not small change – there are millions of euros involved.

It seems the PRC is seeking their extradition in response to complaints the Chinese government has received from the victims here. Trouble is that many of the Chinese are, or claim to be, nationals of Taiwan which Spain does not recognize and with which there is no treaty. Spanish and EU law forbid extraditions to countries, including the PRC, where there is a chance the death penalty will be applied. This is a tricky one also because the evidence against those accused is mainly in the hands of the PRC government - how much can be admitted in a Spanish court is open to question. If the Spanish court can’t or won’t accept the evidence, those charged could walk free.

The article in El País also notes that China holds about 20% of Spain’s debt - and can thus apply pressure beyond normal diplomacy. The story is also discussed at abc News here.

Courts:

‘A boiler room in Marbella mis-sold loans worth €6 million to unwitting expats.

A judge in Bilbao has nullified 12 equity release mortgages sold by financial advisers in Estepona, Marbella and Fuengirola. Sold to reduce the potential inheritance tax on a property, SL Mortgage Funding Limited (SLMF) did not have any of the necessary permits to sell such loans...’. Found at The Olive Press here.

Catalonia:

‘The Spanish judiciary is being systematically politicised in an attempt to suppress the Catalan government’s plan to hold a binding referendum next year on independence, the Catalan foreign minister, Raül Romeva, has said...’. FromThe Guardian. From Vilaweb comes the strident news that: ‘There is a strong acceptance of the right to self-determination in Catalonia. Almost 85% of Catalans want to vote on the country’s future at the ballot box and only 13.8% oppose a referendum, according to a survey published on Sunday by the newspaper ‘El Periódico’. The poll shows that 49.6% of the Catalans asked are in favour of a Unilateral Referendum on Independence (RUI, going by its Catalan initials). In other words, they support a vote despite the lack of agreement with the Spanish Government. However, 35% would accept a referendum only “if it is legal and agreed” with the state. Regarding the result of the vote, 48.9% would opt for “yes” to independence, 40.3% for “no” and 8.5% do not know or did not answer...’.

Brexit:

‘British citizens who have chosen to work or spend their retirement years elsewhere in Europe fear their pensions, healthcare and right to remain will disappear post-Brexit. “We were not even allowed to vote in the referendum that could turn our lives upside down,” said Denise Hope, a retired translator living in Italy. “I feel very bitter about it, as do other expats.” Hope is one of 1.2 million Britons living elsewhere in the EU whose lives have been thrown into disarray by the prospect of Brexit...’. Story at The Guardian here.

A petition organised by the Costa Blanca News at Change.org called ‘Tell the UK government you want associate EU citizenship’: ‘The European Union is backing the ‘associate EU citizenship’ proposal and is taking it to the Brexit negotiation table. This initiative, launched by MEP Charles Goerens, would allow individual UK nationals to keep their rights following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU...’.

Economics:

The Anti-establishment Trend

by Andrew Brociner

The anti-establishment movement, which started with Brexit and continued with the US elections, continues to spread.

In France, François Fillon, who was seen as a last place bid before the primaries, won by a large margin, to become the right wing Presidential candidate. Both he and alain Juppé are former prime ministers, so hardly outsiders, but whereas the latter was more moderate, the former took on some anti-establishment elements in his campaign, such as slashing civil servants and lowering immigration. It is almost certain that the right will face the far right FN in the elections, the left being in disarray, with an incumbent President who has an absurdly low approval rating. François Holland's rating is so dismal, in fact, that it is the first time in the Fifth Republic that an incumbent President has not sought another term. The FN, which hopes to win, campaigning on anti-EU and anti-immigration, will also play the anti-establishment card, but this party too is hardly new.

Austria voted against the far right, but there was much support, so much in fact, that this was the second election this year as the margin was too narrow in the last elections. It is already noteworthy that they were able to get that far.

The Netherlands will also vote in March of 2017, and there too, the far right Party for Freedom has much in the line of anti-immigration. The party leader, Geert Wilders, is not only anti-establishment and anti-immigration, but also xenophobic, against the Islamisation of the Netherlands, and uses inciteful rhetoric. Apparently, he has strong support, and what his supporters like is the way he stands up against the establishment. There are clear similarities with the US elections, as he is campaigning as a populist, vociferous, divisive leader who polarises opinions. The latest opinion polls show him actually ahead of the incumbent left wing party.

In Italy, the recent resignation by Renzi has left an open playing field on which the populist Five Star Movement would like to capitalise. It is not only anti-establishment, but also anti-immigration and euro-sceptic, so there too, if they get elected, a referendum could take place.

Germany is to vote in the autumn of 2017, although support for the far right could be kept to a minimum, as the economic conditions are better in Germany than in many European countries. The recent surge in immigration is what is fuelling the support for the far right. This is the only issue in Germany, and so there is less incentive there to support anti-establishment parties, since the establishment is seen to deliver on different fronts. This is perhaps the only place where the status quo is seen as something positive.

It is clear that if this anti-establishment trend were to take over, with its anti-EU and anti-immigration components, and if those countries where they could be elected held referendums over EU membership, then the European project would be in jeopardy. Many will be watching the election results in these countries which will determine the future of Europe.

Various:

Molina de Segura in Murcia appears to be one of the places where the most cocaine is consumed per person. Indeed, in the whole of Europe, only Barcelona, Zurich, London and Antwerp score higher. The surprising result comes by the analysis of residual water in towns and cities across the continent. Ideal has the story.

Hackers from ‘Anonymous’ claims to have hacked into the Madrid Chamber of Commerce, stealing all of their information and leaving, posted, the message: “Cuestiónalo todo. La Nueve. We are Anonymous, Legion, One. Expect us”. El Confidenciál reports here.

‘Taco Bell plans to open 45 new locations in Spain, more than doubling the current count.

The company said Tuesday that there are 31 restaurants in Spain right now, more than another other country in Europe. There are 330 Taco Bell locations outside the U.S. and the chain expects it will grow to 1,000 international locations in the next six years. In the U.S, there are 7,000 Taco Bell restaurants...’. Item from abc News. Since this is Spain, they’ll be serving beer...

From Brett Hetherington’s Standing in a Spanish Doorway, comes a story called ‘Portrait of an Asturian miner’ here.

El País recommends nine great wines for under 10 euros here.

See Spain:

Alcobendas, Spain, this week unveiled a 3D-printed pedestrian bridge .... The approximately 40-foot concrete bridge is made up of eight separate parts that fit together, and was created using an additive manufacturing process. It spans a small canal in Castilla La Mancha Park. According to a statement from the Alcobendas City Council, the 3D printing process resulted in far less waste than normally produced while creating concrete structures, making it less expensive than traditional processes...’. Report found at Next City here.

Christmas in Granada with Molly at Piccavey.

From Ian and Spain comes ‘Christmas lunch in Valencia’.

Finally:

‘Our Spanish Love Song’, with Tomatito and Michel Camino on Youtube here.

A Merry Christmas to all our readers from Lenox, Andrew and José Antonio.

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