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Weekly Report

Business over Tapas (Nº 252)

Business over Tapas (Nº 252)

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

viernes 13 de abril de 2018, 11:16h

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Editorial:

The Partido Popular are now looking for a replacement for Cristina Cifuentes following the scandal surrounding her master’s degree – sometimes known by the press as ‘Mastergate’. Cifuentes was the clean broom that swept away the years of corruption in the party, with her job as president of the Madrid community. Now another senior PP politician, Pablo Casado, has been found to have a master’s of equally dubious merit. Indeed, it begins to look like the King Juan Carlos University was handing these things out like sweets. Casado cheerfully admitted: ‘I was not required to attend class nor to take exams: that was what I was told at the beginning of the master, and that was my case’.

The PP convention in Seville last week failed to remove Cifuentes from her post – indeed, she was applauded by the party and fondly kissed by Mariano himself. The plan appears to be to force the not-entirely-willing Ciudadanos to support a PSOE-sponsored motion of censure. It wasn’t us, Guv, you see. Ciudadanos themselves would rather see a resignation than a confrontation at this stage (here).

Mariano Rajoy is known for his obstinacy. Now, his inaction may become his weakest point. As Colin Davies says here: ‘Poor Sr Rajoy. His party is falling in the polls and he can't get a budget approved. One commentator referred to the weekend convention as “the PP party's funeral”. As if that weren't bad enough, a poll suggests that that 84% of Spaniards feel his time is over. There's even a majority in his own party. Will he go? Unlikely. He's a very stubborn Gallego. A Galician's Galician’.

Inaction can turn to something worse: El Confidencial talks of ‘the suicide of the PP’ (between corruption and Catalonia) in an interesting article here.

As for the university and its apparent taste for base commercial practice – it too is now under investigation.

Housing:

‘The members of the Association Save Our Homes in La Axarquía, Málaga (Soha) are concerned about the delay accumulated by municipalities in the drafting of inventories of buildings on undeveloped land. An indispensable document when it comes to regularising housing following the modification of the Andalusian Land Use Act (LOUA) passed in Parliament almost two years ago. "In the law that was amended in 2016 there was a transitional provision in which the municipalities were asked to process the progress of their respective urban development plans," says Soha spokesman Mario Blanke, a Belgian who is also the mayor of Alcaucín. "That is why we need this document to identify the settlements in undeveloped areas that could form part of an urban nucleus plus all of the other dwellings that would remain outside", added Blanke, who estimated that the two-year period given by the Regional Government of Andalucía is about to expire. "From then on, the regional administration will take care of them ex officio," he said...’. More at Málaga Hoy here.

Mortgage analysis from Spanish Property Insight: ‘...borrowers in Spain with annually resetting Spanish mortgages will see their mortgage payments fall by around €4 per month for a typical €120,000 loan with a 20 year term. A brief upturn in 2011 notwithstanding, interest rates have been falling since October 2008, but it’s starting to look like the downward trend has flattened out. In the last four months Euribor has hardly declined at all...’.

Tourism:

Turespaña, the Spanish tourist board, has launched ‘Spain in Ten Seconds’, a promotion that has a budget of two million euros. Ecobolsa reports here.

‘Fall in Love with Spain in Ten Seconds’: the campaign (in English) here.

How much do the tourists spend? Under the title ‘Total expenditure by British and French tourists falls: both markets recorded a slight decline of 1.4% at the beginning of the year’, Hosteltur compares the numbers...

Sur in English has a similar story: ‘Andalucía records fall in foreign tourists after 33-month increase. The biggest drop was in the number of British visitors as the resurgence of other destinations in the Med takes the shine off a run of record rises’.

But still, there is plenty to go around. ‘There’s no more room’, says an anti-tourist placard in Mallorca. El Mundo looks at turismofobia on the island.

Seniors:

When nobody wants you any more: the sad story of abandoned seniors, left by their families at the hospital. El País in English takes up the story here.

Finance:

Some things are going very well in Spain, including – by the look of it - the economy. ‘On Friday, S&P raised its rating on the main Spanish banks by one notch. The decision came in the wake of the rating upgrade by the same agency for Spain’s public debt on March 23...’. From The Corner here.

Blackstone Group LP is considering a bid for all of Hispania, the Spanish property company whose shareholders include hedge-fund firms Soros Fund Management LLC and Paulson & Co., as investor appetite for Iberian real estate rebounds, according to people with knowledge of the matter...’. From Bloomberg here.

An entertaining ride from Wolf Street: ‘Spain is home to some of the world’s biggest names in the infrastructure business, but many of those firms could soon be deprived of one of their most lucrative sources of income: the domestic road concessions business. Multi-decade contracts for some of the country’s busiest toll roads, some built as far back as the late 1960s, are about to end. To the companies’ horror, the government has repeatedly stated that the tolls will be abolished once the contracts run their course...’.

‘Understanding money to save the euro’: a study from the Elcano Royal Institute. ‘The Eurozone has a problem. The debate on how to reform and deepen European monetary union (EMU) is dominated by those who believe that establishing a fiscal and political union is not necessary to underpin the single currency’s long-term stability. The recent recovery in growth and employment has only reinforced this view. Many, especially in the north of the continent, think it is enough to complete the banking union, advance in the capital markets union and stick to the Growth and Stability pact rules and that then all will be fine...’.

Politics:

Following Puigdemont’s release in Germany last week, the headline from El Español says: ‘Dismay in Rajoy's government: “We are alone in Europe”. The feeling of defeat is widespread: "They treat us as if we were not a comparable democracy"’. Bolsamanía reports that the PP is saying that it is surprised that a German court can decide something in 24 hours which would take a Spanish court several months.

The King gave a speech at the Escuela Judicial de Barcelona saying that one must support the decisions of the judiciary as ‘a guarantee of rights and respect for the law’. Not all of those gathered outside were in agreement. El Mundo has the story here. He probably just meant the Spanish ones...

The PP era has come to an end, says Zona Crítica here, and the only way forward is to find a new leader for the party. The Cifuentes scandal being, it says, the final straw.

The PSOE publicly supports the judiciary’s position on Catalonia, but privately admits that having Catalonian politicians in exile or in prison is not helping to fix the problems there.

Digital Sevilla is useful for Andalusian politics. Here it reports that Susana Diáz is considering moving the Andalusian regional elections forward – happy with the situation in Madrid while worried about the ERE court process in Seville. Ciudadanos is threatening, says the news-site, a ‘blood wedding’. Interesting times.

‘The Spanish ultra-right VOX party has found unexpected support and great international relevance. The former campaign manager and former chief advisor to US President Donald Trump, Steve Bannon, has shown his support for Santiago Abascal's party and avows his intention to help the formation to "establish strategies to combat separatist propaganda outside Spain and to minimise any international support for Catalan separatism"...’. Blimey, the man from Breitbart is helping our uh, extremists! The story is at La Vanguardia here.

Will we Brits be able to vote in the next municipal elections? Will we be able to stand? Will our passing affect other foreign-born candidates? Will the Ministry of the Interior please tell us what will be the rules, as we need to prepare for May 2019? An article about this overlooked subject from Lenox in La Opinion de Almería here.

Corruption:

Ahora Madrid concludes that the previous mayor for Madrid, Ana Botella, sold 1,860 publicly-owned VPO flats illegally to ‘vulture’ investment funds. El Salto Diario has the story here.

The economist José María Gay de Liébana on corruption. ‘España es un país de chorizos’. Video from Spanish Revolution here.

Griñán in the ERE investigation: ‘I know nothing’. Pedro Sánchez on his fellow party-members Chaves and Griñán: ‘let Justice prevail!’ here.

Catalonia:

Last week’s bombshell: ‘Germany releases Puigdemont and rules out the crime of rebellion.

"For legal reasons" an extradition for rebellion under the Spanish Criminal Code cannot be accepted, as "the acts charged against him would not be punishable in Germany", the court notes’. El Confidencial here. Later: ‘Brussels defends Germany's action in the European arrest warrant against Puigdemont’ – from El Español here.

‘...Since the banned referendum on Oct.1, over 3,000 companies, both domestic and foreign, have shifted their headquarters to other parts of Spain, albeit in most cases only on paper. Tourist numbers also remain fairly subdued in Barcelona, according to the latest figures. Real estate investors, by contrast, remain relatively undeterred. After a small dip in the fourth quarter of 2017, residential property prices in Catalonia resumed their upward trajectory, surging by 14.9% per square meter in the first quarter year-over-year, and in Barcelona, by nearly 20%, according to the property website Idealista...’. From Wolf Street.

John Carlin is interviewed on the Catalonian independence question by Vilaweb here.

Brexit:

‘The European Commission is being asked to consider issuing EU passports to British people in danger of losing their right to free movement after Brexit. The Commission will be forced to consider the proposal if a million EU citizens from across the bloc put their names to an EU citizens’ initiative backing the proposal...’. From The Independent here.

Warning. Here be idiots: ‘OUTRAGEOUS! Thousands of UK citizens plan to FLEE UK after Brexit new data reveals’. The Express at your service here.

Media:

OK Diario is the ‘news-source’ with the poorest credibility in Spain, says Digital Sevilla, quoting a study from the University of Valencia. More here.

Spain’s far-right media didn’t take well to the German court decision. Lenox’ blog here.

Ecology:

‘Man-made rubbish – including a drum – has caused the death of a whale found off a Spanish coast. The young sperm whale, discovered near Cabo de Palos in Murcia, died from its inability to digest the rubbish causing Peritonitis, an inflammation of its internal organs. An autopsy, conducted by the El Valle Wildlife Rescue Centre, found 29kgs of waste including plastic bags, ropes, fishing nets and even a drum...’. From The Olive Press here.

Wild boar are invading urban areas... looking for the food we leave out for the feral cats!

The bacteria Xylella fastidiosa has been found in an olive tree in Madrid – the same type that prompted the destruction of over a million trees in Italy. The bacteria are harmless to humans, but lethal to olives, vines and fruit trees. 20 Minutos has the story here.

Various:

An article at Playground considers how we miss the old places – particularly bars – once they get fixed up with stainless steel... or are closed down for good. Nostalgic drinking. At one bar for every 175 people, there are still more joints here than anywhere else...

Endesa: the public company owned by the Italians. How did this happen? Cupidity and politicians, as usual. YoIbexTigo investigates here.

Galicia leads the pack with the number of abandoned hamlets at over 3,600 of them.

From The Olive Press: ‘Incredible footage of Spain’s property developments left abandoned by 2007 crash’. The report begins: ‘This is the behind the scenes look at an award-winning photography series cataloguing Spain’s abandoned homes. Mark Redondo has spent nearly a decade documenting the millions of homes left empty following the 2007/8 global financial crash. By 2011, Spanish census figures put the number of empty houses at 3.4 million, roughly 30% of all of Europe’s empty property...’. The video and story are here.

Stamp collectors will be queuing up for the latest effort from Correos. A stamp dedicated to the province of León is decorated with a picture of a cathedral, the one in Burgos. Whoops. El País has the story here.

From Variety: ‘The Wire creator David Simon and Spain’s Mediapro are in early development on A Dry Run, a drama series following members of the Abraham Lincoln Battalion who came to Spain from the U.S. to fight fascism during the Spanish Civil War’.

A girl is murdered in 1904 in a small town in Granada and the event becomes the central plot to García Lorca’s play ‘La Casa de Bernarda Alba’. But truth is stranger than fiction, as the family, five surviving children and their parents, locked themselves away from human contact in profound mourning until the last survivor died in 1988. The peculiar story is recalled by El Español here.

See Spain:

‘As Seville prepares to host its famous Feria de Abril, here is everything you need to know to enjoy all the fun of the fair! With Semana Santa out of the way, Seville is now gearing up for its legendary April fair, which gets underway on April 15th and continues until 22nd...’ The Local lets us in on how best to celebrate Spain's famous ferias.

From Amusing Planet: ‘Bous a la Mar: The Spanish Festival of Chasing Bulls to The Sea’.

Letters

Lenox - re those missing hairdressers mentioned in BoT. Maybe they have gone underground like many others in the service sector.

It is simply absurd to levy 21% on labour. I wonder how many readers will have been asked by a handyperson "¿con o sin iva?". Spain should reduce vat on hairdressing, household repairs, etc, to 10%. And then watch employment rise and the tax take increase.

I speak as an ex vat inspector and naturally my reply to that question is....

Jake

Finally:

The Man who killed Don Quixote. The Terry Gilliam trailer here on YouTube. Wow!

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