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Weekly Report

Business over Tapas (Nº 276)

Business over Tapas (Nº 276)

  • 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

jueves 01 de noviembre de 2018, 20:38h

01NOV18.- For subscriptions and other information about this site, go to businessovertapas.com email: businessovertapas@gmail.com - ***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. Subscription and e-mail information in our archives is never released to third parties.

Editorial:

The number of damaging recordings from the imprisoned ex-commissioner José Villarejo (who apparently worked in his spare time as a kind of cross between a private investigator and a mole within his own police force) continues. ‘...The tapes from 2009 reveal that the policeman and Ignacio López del Hierro, husband of the former secretary general of the PP, María Dolores de Cospedal, tried to stop investigations into corruption against the Popular Party and that the former defence minister herself was aware of these efforts...’. The story is at ElDiario.es. ‘Are you prepared to do some particular work for us?’ Cospedal and her husband ask Villarejo in a private meeting in the Partido Popular building in the Calle Génova, Madrid. El Mundo quotes the Moncloa political site here. El Español says that one conversation was about heaping all the blame on Bárcenas: ‘Cospedal and Villarejo agreed that Bárcenas would be Gürtel's only culprit: "If it's had it, then put it in the dustbin. As long as all the sh*t lands on him, it reaches no one else," the former commissioner told the secretary general of the PP in her office in Genoa. A shaken Cospedal told the RTVE on Tuesday that ‘the meetings made no difference in the Gürtel Investigation’.

From VozPópuli: ‘The former commissioner informed the former secretary general (Cospedal) of his ideological preferences: "Whenever your lot govern, I have never earned any money, but whenever the PSOE is in charge, since they are such a disaster, they ask me to do all kind of things" (here). The problem for Pablo Casado in this instance is that Cospedal gave her support to his candidacy for leader of the party last July and, indeed, he is ‘now rather quiet for once’ (here). Speculation exists that the ‘Moncloa’ news-site could be connected in some way to the ex-commissioner himself, in prison since last November. As the political world grits its collective teeth at the thought of even more tapes to be released, the ‘Cospedal’ recordings have now been passed to the National High Court (here).

Housing:

‘Property Investment in Spain in 2018 Could Reach the Highest Levels in a Decade’, says The Corner here. ‘Investment in property in Spain by institutional investors rose to 13,385 million euros at the end of September, according to CB Richard Ellis. That figure exceeds the 12,750 million euros in the whole of 2017. The total volume of investment for the whole year would exceed 16,000 million euros, which would mean the highest level for ten years.’.

The new property investment: ‘I'll wait until you die (and I can occupy the dwelling I bought off you)’. From La Cadena Ser, we find that investors are buying out old people for a hefty discount and then allowing them full legal use until they die. The story is also covered by Eldiario.es here.

‘Brits choose Spain as number one ‘dream location’ when fantasising about living abroad’ says The Olive Press here.

Tourism:

In BoT 275, Matthew Bennett from The Local was somewhat strident on Catalonia. Here he tackles the risk of a no-flight scenario post Brexit: ‘Last week, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) warned that up to 95 percent of the more than 5,000 weekly flights between the UK and Spain are at risk if Britain crashes out of the EU without a Brexit deal in March. “If nothing is done it will be a nightmare in the European and UK airports”, director general Alexandre de Juniac told The Guardian. On Friday, I spoke to Chris Dottie, the president of the British Chamber of Commerce in Spain, about Brexit (and the Catalan crisis). He said 200,000 jobs and €6 billion of tax revenue from British companies—which have invested €66 billion in Spain over the last ten years—are at stake with Brexit, not including the tourist sector. Brits are the largest group of foreign tourists by far in Spain: the latest data from the National Statistics Institute (INE) shows 12.9 million visited Spain through the end of August this year, more than the French (8.3 million), the Germans (7.7 million), the Scandinavians (4 million), or the Italians (3 million). The total for last year was 18.8 million British tourists visiting Spain, a new record...’.

‘The Ayuntamiento de Xàbia has proposed changes to the urban plan after a new regional regulation would mean that only apartments in the town would be authorised to be used as tourist rental properties and that almost no house or villa would be legally available for holiday rentals. However the Partido Popular claims that the modifications would not be enough and still leave half of Xàbia's (Javea’s) villas unavailable for holiday rentals, damaging the tourist sector in the town and consequently the local economy for its residents...’. Item from the Javeamigos page here. (Thanks Lorna)

Seniors:

‘The business of nursing homes for the elderly in Spain’. Article from InfoLibre here. ‘For the eight million people over the age of 65 living in Spain, the places available with public coverage in old people's homes (either public or subsidised in private centres) barely cover sixty out of every one hundred users. Because of the total of 372,000 places available (which represents coverage of just 4.3% of the population over 65), only 208,000 are available in public centres or with subsidised places in private subsidised centres. The remaining 164,000 are places in private centres without public financing (44% of the total). This is a situation where more than 40% of places are available at market prices which, as we shall see in this analysis, cause a massive and invisible exclusion of potential users...’.

Finance:

‘Pedro Sánchez's government plans to raise the maximum Social Security contribution bases by between 10% and 12% next year to achieve an additional increase in income of between 1,000 and 1,100 million euros. This increase will mean a higher cost to the company and a lower net salary for high income workers. The extra cost could be close to 1,300 euros per year for the company for higher paid workers and for these, an increase in contributions of more than 250 euros...’. Cinco Días has the item here. The planned new rates for 2019 for autónomos, the self-employed, are listed at El Confidencial Digital here.

Removing economic corruption would add more than 10,000 million euros to Spain's GDP each year, says El País here. ‘According to a report by the BBVA Foundation and the IVIE, Spain is behind Portugal, Ireland, France and Germany’. Indeed, the top 40 countries for ‘Quality and Control of Public Institutions’ listed here, places Spain at an alarming 31st.

From El Independiente here: ‘What weapons does Spain sell (and to whom) all over the world? Military aircraft, warships, munitions, explosives... Spain exported more than 4,300 million tons of defence material last year, most of it to its EU and NATO partners. But also to Arabia, Malaysia, Australia, Kazakhstan...’. The article notes that ‘Spain exported 4,300 million euros in 2017 in defence equipment and last year authorised future sales of a further 21,000 million’.

Unemployment. Some regions are doing better than others, says El Confidencial. The details are here. La Vanguardia has some maps that make the point here.

Banking news from El País here: ‘The BBVA earned 4,323 million euros in the first nine months of the year, 25% more than last year thanks to the sale of its Chilean subsidiary’. In a whimsical subtitle: ‘The entity requests that the sentence of the mortgages to be reviewed by the Supreme is not retroactive’. The same source has the Banco de Santander figures: ‘Santander gained 5,742 million euros in the first nine months, up 13%. Over last year’.

Coming soon: the new ‘antifraud’ law will say that one cannot pay in cash more than 1,000€, down from the previous 2,500€. Furthermore, the sale of special ‘two-system’ accounts software will be declared illegal.

How much money do we waste on soccer (one of the most ephemeral activities known to man)? An overlooked item from Semana dated last January: 'The 220 million euros that Paris Saint-Germain paid for Neymar Jr. could be used to rebuild the east of Mosul, the Syrian city destroyed by the war. This is a way of looking at how far the frenetic race of this sport has gone to become a business. ... However, when it comes to knowing how much money this sport moves today, the consulting firm Deloitte estimates that it reaches about 500,000 million dollars a year...'. A figure of the equivalent to 40% of the GDP of Spain, or greater than the GDP of Belgium for example...

Politics:

Ciudadanos loosens up. From El País: ‘Ciudadanos gave on Monday afternoon a twist in the strategy they had maintained with the PP to block in Parliament several initiatives of the Government. That change could be a first step for the future debate of the budget stability law, necessary to address the 2019 Budget and complete the legislature. Albert Rivera's party no longer agrees with the PP in slowing down this debate with amendments to the entirety, but adds that it will not allow an urgent discussion as the government would like...’. Unidos Podemos was unimpressed by the Ciudadanos’ conciliatory tone: telling Pedro Sánchez ‘don’t forget who your allies are’.

The latest CIS opinion poll puts Ciudadanos ahead of the PP. El País has the details here. However, says the right-wing press, the figures (PSOE 31.6, Ciudadanos 21, PP 18.2 and Unidos Podemos 17.3) are skewed. El Español says that the figures are manipulated, giving the PSOE just 25% against Ciudadanos and PP neck and neck at 22% each.

From ElDiario.es here: ‘The PP plays for a troublesome legislature until Sanchez gives in and calls for elections’.

Pablo Casado’s first hundred days as party leader. El Español thinks he is doing well, while El Plural is less impressed. Here and here.

The fifteen parties vying for the Andalusian vote (December 2nd).

The Oficina del Censo Electoral has now issued guidelines on the upcoming municipal and European elections for EU residents in Spain. The details in Lenox’ Blog here.

Catalonia:

From El País: ‘Ex-president Carles Puigdemont and President Quim Torra launched this Saturday a new party, the “Crida Nacional per la República”, which aspires to be an "instrument of political action" and to participate in the elections. La Crida wants Catalonia to be a republic after an "effective and agreed" referendum. The new group warns that it will again exercise the right of self-determination if the government persists in its refusal to give way...’. More here.

From La Vanguardia here: ‘A Poll for Catalonia: Only 42% of Catalans now want a referendum on independence. The majority of Catalans prefer to negotiate greater self-government than to seek secession’.

Catalan Independence One Year On

By Andrew Brociner

A year has passed since the Catalan independence vote and the short-lived declaration of making the region an independent state. It is remarkable that one year later, its political leaders are still either in exile or in jail. Even though Pedro Sanchez has a more reconciliatory tone than his predecessor, which could hardly be difficult, he has not made a move to release any of the prisoners or revoke charges against those in exile, saying it is something for the judiciary. Seven Catalan leaders remain in exile. Seven other leaders are detained in a male prison about 70 kilometres from Barcelona, and two women leaders are still held in two other prisons. Supporters reportedly visit these leaders in prison each week.

It is clear that no progress will be made from this stalemate without freeing these leaders. No matter how much more autonomy the central government offers the region, the new Catalan leaders will not negotiate until this matter is resolved. In fact, how can one have dialogue with leaders in jail or in exile?

And now, in the latest move, Spain’s Supreme Court has ordered 18 former Catalan leaders to stand trial for declaring independence last year. Puigdemont, along with the other exiled leaders, will not be affected as Spain does not try people in absentia and Germany, where the former Catalan President found himself on the way back to Belgium, refused to extradite him on these charges. However, this latest move is only going to stoke more protests and lead to more pro-independence drives. The Catalan President, Quim Torra, has already said that should the leaders be found guilty, a protest march could take place which would start in Barcelona and go to other European cities to apply international pressure. Luis Puig, the former Catalan culture minister who accompanied Carles Puigdemont in exile to Brussels, is assessing the possibility of taking the case to the European Court of Human Rights. And Puigdemont was in Geneva recently attending a conference with world leaders, where the Forum President, Jean-Paul Cateron, stated: “It is inadmissible in the European Union in the 21st century that politicians are persecuted for their ideas”. The Catalans are now clearly gathering more international support.

Catalonia remains deeply divided on the issue of independence. Letting the people have a free and legal democratic vote would settle the issue. It lets people who only want to exercise their democratic right to have their say. As support for independence is not likely over 50% in any case, the referendum would not necessarily lead to independence. It would certainly not lead to an overwhelming majority, based on current polls. However, postponing this process further only leads to more frustration which adds to the indignation suffered last year. And now, trying leaders will only foment this sentiment with perhaps more people joining in the cause. Freeing prisoners and allowing a referendum seems the only sensible thing to do. However, it is very unlikely that the central government, even this new one, will do it. The PM, in fact, has said he is against a Catalan referendum. And so, even though both governments have changed, the situation still remains unsettled.

Gibraltar:

From a slightly worried Gibraltar Chronicle: ‘Spain’s Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and the new leader of the Partido Popular, Pablo Casado, clashed over Gibraltar yesterday during a parliamentary debate on Brexit. Addressing the Congress in Madrid, Mr Sánchez insisted his government was putting the interests of people at the centre of its Brexit strategy, drawing flak from Mr Casado whose party has returned to a hard-line stance on Gibraltar. Mr Sánchez described Brexit as a “tragedy” and urged regional and municipal administrations as well as businesses in Spain to prepare for a hard Brexit, even while speaking with optimism about negotiations in respect of future relations with Gibraltar...’.

Courts:

Rodrigo Rato finally went to the Soto del Real prison last Thursday. As El País says: ‘Rodrigo Rato's imprisonment closes the bitterest chapter of a party that accumulated immense institutional power for two decades’. Público meanwhile has a joke: ‘Rodrigo Rato enters prison. With this, the PP ensures that they now command an absolute majority in Soto del Real’.

From El País here: ‘The ERE case has monopolized the pre-campaign of the Andalusian elections with the definitive petition of the Anticorruption Prosecutor's Office against the former presidents Manuel Chaves and José Antonio Griñán, for whom it requests political disbarment sentences, in addition to six years of jail for Griñán. Both in the dock after between them governing the community for 23 years. ... The trial, which after a year, will finally end in the coming weeks...’.

Brexit:

From The Sun here: ‘Theresa May has offered EU citizens the lifelong right to stay in Britain, even if they leave the country for years, in return for free movement for expats.

The PM told the EU Parliament’s Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt she was prepared to make the trade-off during a meeting at Downing Street last month...’.

‘Brits living on the Costa del Sol "will not be affected by Brexit at all". Josep Borrell, minister of Foreign Affairs, had a reassuring message for British residents in Spain when he visited Malaga on Friday’. From Sur in English here.

The El País in English offers a thin commercial piece here: ‘I’m British and living in Spain – how can I prepare for Brexit? Madrid-based lawyer Margaret Hauschild Rey, who specializes in citizenship and civil law, offers advice for Britons ahead of the UK’s exit from the European Union’.

We are all suitably reassured by the foregoing; at least until we read that the Spanish press has picked up on the racist attack in London: ‘A woman was "brutally" beaten for speaking Spanish on a London commuter train. The attacker got upset after listening to his telephone conversation. "You must speak English in England," say the witnesses who shouted at him’. El Mundo reports here.

Media:

Let’s get Business over Tapas up to a thousand likes on our Facebook page here.

Ecology:

Ikea is to sell solar panels in Spain following the elimination of the ridiculous 'sun tax'. The multinational, which already sells its panels in over ten other countries, has not yet set a date for launching the product on the national market...’. A report from El Español here.

Various:

‘The wealth of the royal family and, more specifically, of King Juan Carlos I, is being observed under the microscope after the Corinna case was revealed. Where does the fortune of the ex-king come from? According to publications from over 10 years ago, the wealth of Juan Carlos I was estimated at more than 2,000 million euros. Basque TV’s ETB 360º programme (here) has investigated each critical point of the ex-king's wealth up to 2,000 million euros and its origin...’. From Cuarto Poder here. More at El Nacional here.

‘Citizens who want a republic double those who prefer the monarchy. A Podemos survey reveals that 46% of the population prefers to live in a republic, compared to 27% who advocate maintaining a monarchy like the current one. In addition, young people are the ones who bet the most on changing the state model’. From Público here.

One by one. Spain’s wealthiest one hundred citizens. El Español has the story here. The two wealthiest, by the way, father and daughter, have 63,600 million euros (declared) between them. The last, at 100th place, has just 275,000,000€ (declared). But is it enough?

The Ministry of the Interior is considering compulsory insurance for electric scooters and all bicycles says La Cadena Ser here.

From The Local: ‘How well do you know your Spanish idioms?’ Fun reading here.

From The Olive Press: ‘Debunking the Greatest Myths & Misconceptions about Spain’.

Shhh! Secret stuff! ‘Hispano Suiza: The rebirth of a myth, the Phoenix rises again. In March 2019, Grup Peralada will present its new Hispano Suiza model at the International Motor Show in Geneva’. The story at PRNewswire here.

The pharmacies have long stocked an eclectic selection of homeopathic products which the Minister for Health has recently described as ‘an alternative therapy that has not been proven scientifically’. Now, thousands of these products have been prohibited. More here. According to this, the pharmacists have ‘no idea’ what to do with the better than ‘4,000 homeopathic medicines’ now in the back room stashed in boxes.

‘The Ministry of Culture wants to ban ticket resales’. A good idea to remove the ‘scalpers’ from the equation. The story at VozPópuli here.

See Spain:

National Geographic has a picture of the beautiful Castle at Segovia here.

Letters:

Hi Lenox:

Should you really be seen to be making such statements even on behalf of someone else?

‘The transfer of pets is another issue, as the United Kingdom force pet-owners to "isolate the animal for six months" in an official kennel to prevent infections; or the financial issue, as nobody knows whether they will be able to continue bank-transfers or to withdraw money from British banks from abroad’.

Surely the UK ended the 6-month quarantine for animals several years ago?

No banking system in the world YET refuses transfers of any kind to anyone anywhere (with obvious restrictions on laundering). UK banks trade/work with any place/any time as the economy will be able to do, once free of this declining restrictive practices and corrupt EU has been left behind in our lives !

Have we ever stopped transfers to Guatemala because we don't like their government???

Too stupid to contemplate, I think!!

Our departure is "a tragedy for the EU"? Certainly it is, and they must have seen our departure coming over 10 years ago and yet they refused to reform anything at all.

It deserves to sink as, surely it will (and is already doing). Only a complete lunatic would seek an undemocratic Federal government from Brussels (overriding a

Democratic Westminster), unlimited immigration and an EU army weakening NATO - and that's just a start of all the many reasons that Brexit is right for the nation (altho' it may not be so for us but, as I have always said, sensible people end up doing sensible things - even in an era where the number of "sensible" people is in very steep decline!).

Hope you continue to improve.

JD/

Finally:

From A Flamenco Primer’, an article at Vinyl Me Please: ‘Flamenco is a genre so unique, most people can instantly identify it when hearing it. You may not know a single artist in the idiom, but the distinctive vocabulary of flamenco is unmistakable. The dramatic harmonic cadences, the passionate singing and the sound of rampant handclaps and dancing feet are all distinguished in a glimpse. The aesthetic elements of flamenco are so characteristic that they stand out even when used in the context of a different genre. Legendary artists across eras and styles have delved into flamenco, transposing its singular sounds to a myriad of settings. Musicians ranging from Maurice Ravel to Miles Davis and Leonard Cohen have all picked up elements of this Spanish folk music, utilizing the captivating sounds of the genre to add the unique shade of expression only flamenco can convey...’. The item includes several luscious playlists.

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