Opening with a smile – I got these two hits to my blog yesterday, within a few minutes of each other. I wonder if they are related . . .
the Anglo Galician Association
the brothel association of Spain
OK, another smile before the serious stuff – A quote from an English newspaper this morning:- The new film of Brideshead Revisited is to include a love triangle between Charles Ryder, Sebastian Flyte and his sister Julia - a scene that Waugh carelessly omitted to pen. Is nothing sacred these days?
Enough levity. On to weightier matters . . . I guess the best that can be said about Spanish racism is that it’s born of naivety and a simple lack of cultural awareness - assisted by a deep-seated Spanish belief that, if you don’t mean to hurt anyone by your words, then they’ve no real cause to be upset. My latest musing on this theme is prompted by this cartoon from yesterday’s Correo Gallego, which relates to the Nigerian episode in the recent life of our senior VP. I’m quite sure the artist would be horrified to be told it’s insulting as this is the standard way negroes are depicted here in Spain:-
The irony here is that the cartoonist is being critical of the VP for not obeying equality rules. Equality and race apparently being differently-entitled things in Spain.
The Spanish property market: A couple of years back, my good net-friend Biopolitical alerted me to the huge stake which the central and regional governments had in the continuation of a construction boom, even if it were driven by little more than speculative greed. This stems primarily from the tax streams that follow in the wake of property transfers. More recently, I’ve commented on the dreadful prospect facing town halls across the country now that the golden goose has shuffled off this mortal coil far more rapidly than either the national or any regional government seems to have even contemplated. I’m once again indebted to Mark Stucklin for putting all this in a nutshell:-Local authorities are totally unprepared for a slump in revenues, even though the present situation could be seen coming a long way off. The growth model and urban planning model many employed was short-termist and unsustainable, and failed to nourish long term wealth creation. Whilst the construction sector boomed, town halls used the revenues to finance a dramatic increase in municipal infrastructure and services that are now fixed costs that have to be paid. Increasing your fixed costs in response to a temporary rise in income is always a recipe for disaster. This municipal finance crunch will squeeze coastal towns the hardest, as construction fever during the boom raged the most on the coast. Town councils in the Valencia Region have been warned to prepare for 3 “very difficult” years. Oh, dear. Here come the increases in our annual municipal taxes, the IBI. Amongst other things. Even more public works down in town, I guess.
Meanwhile, the Association of Developers is still begging for taxpayer-sponsored aid to keep them at the level of luxury to which they’ve become accustomed. Or to quote Mark again:- The association of leading Spanish developers has called on the government to inject an extra €40 billion into the economy to stimulate the housing market and soften the “excessive downturn in the construction sector.” The general secretary of the association argues that, if present trends continue, there will only be 200,000 housing starts in Spain this year, well below a real housing demand he estimates at 350,000, and far below the 600,000 plus in recent years. Rather than drop their own inflated prices to stimulate demand and shift some of the 500,000 newly built properties they have in stock, the developers are, as usual, calling on the government to make it easier and cheaper, in the short term, for buyers to load up with debt. Vamos a ver.
But it’s not all gloom. As I say, I may have a massive, ugly concrete skeleton in front of my house [picture soon] but I can at last again park my car in front of my gate. My garage even. And my picture window is at the back of the house, giving me a rather superior view. If I ignore the unsold monstrosities in funeral parlour style to the far right. Which are not shown here . . .