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Weekly Report

Business over Tapas (N.º 468)

Business over Tapas (N.º 468)

  • 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

viernes 28 de octubre de 2022, 02:29h

27OCT22 – MADRID.- 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. Subscription and e-mail information in our archives is never released to third parties.

Opinion:

The banks aren’t what they were. The quill has been exchanged by the keyboard and now there's a button on the street door and a trickster in the manager's office.

My first encounter with a bank was with un corredor - an agent for the Banco Popular. This was the old mayor of Bédar, who used to keep his useful papers, rubber stamp and a modest wad of cash under his bed in a strongbox. One would be granted permission to enter his bedroom and the business would be done, the mayor concentrating as he filled a line in his ledger, and a receipt for the petitioner. Word was, that the books would be transported weekly by donkey to the bank in Lúbrin, a dozen kilometres away.

Back on the coast in Mojácar, we had a proper bank, of sorts, since it wasn’t a bank so much as a savings bank, or caja. These belonged to the Church and in principle they didn’t take commissions. Ours was the Caja de Ahorros y Monte de Piedad de Almería, a kind of low-lender and pawn-shop known to the foreigners affectionately as the Cage of Horrors.

We were treated well there, and at Christmas, the Caja would fulfil tradition by offering their clients a bracer, usually a glass of anís or menta. It probably helped keep their patrons happy.

Later, allied to the Málaga Caja de Ahorros and rebranded as Unicaja, they began to offer sets of crockery to potential customers. A Sterling cheque would take a couple of weeks to clear, but if they knew you…

There was another bank of sorts in the pueblo, the Banco de Jeréz (part of the Rumasa empire), where I kept a company account. The teller, young Marcelo, used to remove a cheque from the back of my chequebook now and again and treat himself to a meal or a bottle of gin or maybe two weeks in the Caribbean until I caught him out one day. The manager returned my missing funds, kind of him, and I don’t know what happened to Marcelo. He’s probably in politics these days. The Banco de Jérez, for its part, went bust in 1992. So, back to the Unicaja for my banking needs and its occasional welcome drop of anís.

Banks grew in numbers and employees with the building boom, which started the day Franco died and continued until 2008. Then came the ‘restructure’ when 88 different high-street banks shrank down through mergers into the ten we enjoy today, albeit with 23,500 less branches and 115,000 less employees.

As for my favoured banking option with the passage of years, the Unicaja Banco (renamed again) has now joined up with Liberbank (an operator from Asturias, Cantabria and Castilla la Mancha) and, keeping its Unicaja Banco name (sorry about that, Liberbank), has turned into something far removed from its halcyon days as a simple savings bank.

But hey, money talks. Any business one might have is not about making things, or deals, or dingbats, it’s about making money – and who is better placed to make money than a bank? Alright, the Royal Mint I’ll grant you, but after that…

No more bishops behind the door any longer, now they are run by business-folk, or bankers as they call themselves. Indeed, bank staff are now strongly encouraged to sell products to their customers – home and car insurance, health insurance, house alarms (52,03€ per month with CaixaBank and don’t forget to read the small print), investments, Ponzi schemes, crypto-currencies, ostrich farms, precious stones and sundry start-ups while the bank itself invests in property, bicycle teams and volleyball.

If all fails, and there’s the right government in power, then they’ll get bailed out at public expense.

Meanwhile, the Unicaja, having just raised their charges for keeping and investing my modest account to a whopping 20 euros per month, has a sign in our one remaining local office which says that the teller is only there until eleven thirty each morning, and furthermore that (says the sign with satisfaction in a classic piece of Newspeak) ‘Menos es Más’: More is Less, and the handy cashpoint outside now does all kinds of tricks as the disgruntled queue to be found there will happily illustrate.

A rival lender across town is only open two days a week (Tuesdays and Fridays). How much do they charge customers I ask?

As for mortgages – and some hard-won advice here for the Reader: just don’t.

You may be wondering if my bank still offers a tipple at Christmastime to its patrons. A flute of Bollinger maybe. I’ll get back to you on that one.

Housing:

‘The real estate market is approaching a crash similar to that of the 90s: house values will falter in several economies at the same time’ says El Economista here (Thanks Charles).

From INews here. ‘Brexit visa is putting off British expats from seeking new life in sunny Spain. A study has suggested that the complicated process of securing a visa to live in Spain was putting Britons off’. It says that ‘…a pattern is emerging that shows Britons are less keen to move to Spain and they are being replaced by people from other EU countries who do not have to apply for visas. Before Brexit, Britons could get on a plane and start a new life in Spain without filling in any forms. Now they must apply for a visa…’

Tourism:

From The Olive Press here: ‘Spain scraps all Covid entry requirements for UK and non-EU travellers’.

‘Spain’s Social Security registered some 2,613,583 employees working in tourism-related activities last month. According to data from Turespaña, the national tourism body of Spain, this figure has exceeded the highest figure in the historical series for September 2019, which represents a year-on-year increase of 10.5 per cent and the creation of 247,852 new jobs’, says Schengen Visa Info here.

Sur in English reports that ‘Vueling cabin crew in Spain have decided to hold strikes every Friday, Sunday, Monday and on public holidays between 1 November 2022 and 31 January 2023, to put pressure on the company into giving them a 13.4% pay rise…’

Finance:

‘The Airef (Independent Authority for Fiscal Responsibility) says it expects Spain to fall into a technical recession in the first quarter of 2023’. The Airef considers that Spain’s GDP will close in negative in the last quarter of this year and the first of next year, although it anticipates a 1.5% rise during 2023 taken as a whole says elDiario.es here.

Politics:

The latest poll for El Confidencial gives the leadership to the PP with 30% against the PSOE at 26.8%. The General Elections are still far off (probably). El Huff Post says the ‘Feijóo effect’ – the bump for the PP with their new leader – is beginning to wear off.

El Mundo reports that Pedro Sánchez will become the first Spanish president of the Socialist International (wiki) next month. ‘He will have no rival to face to lead the organization that brings together the 132 parties and organisations across the world within the SI that share the leftist ideology for the next four years’. The Socialist International congress will be held between November 24th and 28th, precisely in Madrid.

Readers may remember that a deputy for Podemos was given the boot from Parliament last year after it emerged that he may have kicked a policeman back in 2014 during an eviction. The local chapter of the party decided against sending someone else to Madrid since the whole thing was, they felt, an injustice. The Supreme Court could apparently reverse this situation, but doesn’t want to claims Fuentes Informadas here. The politician, the tall and dreadlocked Alberto Rodriguez, says that for the next national elections he will stand as candidate for a new Canaries-only party to be called Drago (here).

The Centra opinion poll says that the Andalusian PP would win by an even larger margin if fresh regional elections were to be held now. El Confidencial reports here.

The Vice-president of the Junta de Castilla y León is a young Voxxer called Juan García-Gallardo. He has been much in the news (for all the wrong reasons) since the regional elections last March. On Wednesday, he made the statement in the regional parliament that the PSOE is a band of criminals led by Pedro Sánchez. No, he refuses to retract.

Gibraltar:

Flashbak brings us ‘A Spanish Photographer’s Pictures of the Rock of Gibraltar In 1980’.

Europe:

Patxi López, parliamentary leader of the ruling Socialist-PSOE party said, “The resignation of Liz Truss is confirmation of the failure of neoliberal recipes against the crisis. Only the social democratic way guarantees a fair exit for everyone”. Sur in English was reporting last week here. Only a few days later, with Boris Johnson pulling out of the running, Rishi Sunak became -on Monday- the new British prime minister (Majorca Daily Bulletin here).

orruption:

Under the heading ‘The dirty war against Podemos’, El País looks at the disgraced Judge Alba and his long and improper campign against Victoria Rosell. ‘The magistrate, since expelled from his post, finally entered prison last week to serve six and a half years for hatching a plot to sink the Podemos candidate: a former colleague. "All this was to please the PP ex-minister José Manuel Soria", says the victim’. Soria, we learn in the article, was head-to-head in the Canary elections of 2015 with Victoria Rosell.

According to elDiario.es here, ‘The Audiencia Nacional National Court (Wiki) accuses the husband of the mayoress of Marbella of criminal organization and drug laundering. The serious deterioration in the health of Lars Gunnar Broberg makes it difficult for him to be tried for "actively" participating in the money-laundering of an organization that exported marijuana from Spain to Sweden with a stepson of the mayoress as the alleged leader of the group’. A second article from the same source says ‘The UDEF concludes in a report: “From the intercepted telephone conversations with Joakim Broberg, the major influence that the Swede has on urban issues is clear and this is due to his family relations with the Marbella governor”’. A third article says that a secret recording from 2014 by the notorious government agent Commissioner Villarejo where he ‘…warns Francisco Martínez, the number two in the Ministry of the Interior, of the danger that the PP will lose the municipal elections if alleged bribes involving the husband and the stepson of Ángeles Muñoz were to come to light’ (with audio). The Olive Press says that the mayoress will seek legal advice if any media report seeks to link her to the ongoing investigation. From Sur in English here: ‘"Nothing to do with me or the town hall," Mayor Muñóz says about husband's court case’.

‘The Mocro Mafia (wiki) in Barcelona: luxury apartments, high-end cars and some crooked businessmen. The robbery of ATMs with explosives leads the Mossos (Catalonian police) and the National Police to catch a faction of dangerous Dutch criminals that were intending to settle in Catalonia’. El País has the story here.

Media:

The venerable Correo Gallego newspaper is bust, with debts of over 20 million euros. A couple of rivals are interested in buying the remains at auction.

We have noted in the past that some of the current affairs shows on morning TV in Spain can be a bit conservative, manipulative or crammed with assorted bulos and innuendo. That’s the way things go in a thriving democracy. However, a few eyebrows were raised this week as one of the talking heads managed to blame Pedro Sánchez for the tragic and most untimely exit of Liz Truss from her job in Westminster. The fellow in question was Javier Gállego pressing his point on the Ana Rosa Show on Tele5 last Friday. Jotapov has a laugh or two here.

A Russian-born news reporter working in Spain is attacked by the right-wing media here.

Ecology:

‘There could be jellyfish in the Mediterranean all year round in the future, biologists warn. Climate change is creating perfect conditions for them to stay in the sea of southern Spain for much longer than we are used to’. Headline from Sur in English here.

Various:

Since Felipe Gonzalez, a large number of Spanish public companies were sold off to the private sector. Ara in an article from October 2021 puts the number at 120, including SEAT, Marsans, Transatlantica, Endesa, Repsol, Telefónica, Tabacalera, Iberia… (More here).

Who knows how the Libro de Reclamaciones works (or ‘Complaining Sheets’ as the poster behind the till sometimes calls them)? Better just not return, maybe? From Sur in English here, there’s a ‘New complaints system in Andalucía which aims to make the process more straightforward’.

From Canal Sur here ‘Last week, the Ley de Memoria Democrática (Law of Democratic Memory) comes into force, which has among its objectives, to search for the disappeared of the Civil War and the Franco Dictatorship. It replaces an earlier law from 2007’. The sinister Valle de los Caidos is now renamed as the Valle de Cuelgamuros and the Fundación Franco has been declared illegal.

A pueblo in Toledo had its name forcibly changed during the Civil War, because the Nationalists didn’t like its previous one. Now Numancia de la Sagra wants to go back to being called Azaña de la Sagra as before, claiming that the new Ley de Memoria Democrática would allow this. (Manuel Azaña was the last Republican president - Wiki. The name is of course coincidental).

An okupa squatted in a home in Algeciras and, with nothing much else to do, decided to ‘reform’ it. When the owner returned from a long visit to Burgos, he found his 98m2 house had been extended to over 300m2 in size. 20Minutos has the story.

A couple from Vigo want to get married in a civil wedding, but were shocked to find that the judge insists on practicing the event in Spanish. That would never do, said the couple, so they will be bringing along a simultaneous translator into Galician (Galego). Eu quero.

The Chorizo Chronicles brings us ‘How to integrate into Spanish culture (or not) – a sort-of guide’.

No BoT for November. Lenox is off to see the kids in Oklahoma. Next edition is pencilled in for December 8th. Meanwhile, check for posts at Business over Tapas on Facebook.

See Spain:

From The Guardian here: ‘The Camino de Santiago has been a confluence of culture since the eighth century, a trail where like-minded souls from all over the world share the sacred act of pilgrimage. Routes from the north, south, east and west of Europe crisscross Spain but all converge on the shrine of Saint James the Apostle in Galicia’s capital city, Santiago de Compostela…’. When three siblings hike the Camino de Santiago, the fact that one has Down’s syndrome makes some things tricky, but the whole trip far more rewarding.

An American called Elliot visits the dangerous Almería slum of El Puche in a half-hour video on YouTube (en castellano) here. Well done him!

From Idealista here (In English): ‘The 10 most famous haunted houses in Spain. Haunted places in Spain including haunted houses that you won't want to miss this Halloween’.

From Eye on Spain here: ‘Mysterious Tales. Spain is rich in mythology, the entire country is home to towns, cities and buildings that are renowned on account of legends involving ghosts that inhabit them, paranormal phenomena within their walls or tales of impossible love...’. Some nice photos accompany the article.

Letters:

Dear Lenox

Another great edition, thank you. Re: Spanish working area architecture: you may well be right that all the good architects poked-off early in the piece in order to earn better pay elsewhere but we need to remember that municipal clowns signed off the work and granted the necessary licences and they presumably still live in the area.

Best regards

David

Finally:

Here’s Shakira with Loca on YouTube. Say, doesn’t she have some problems with Hacienda?

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