Friday, June 13, 2008

“It’s hard” says the UK’s Financial Times “to bid farewell to an era, particularly when it has been as dynamic and prosperous as the one drawing to a close in Spain. . . The intensity of the adjustment has been breathtaking”. If you want more of this depressing stuff, click here. It’s good to know, though, that the country has at least one positive thinker. Sr. Federico Prades, who’s an adviser to the Association of Spanish Banks, says the slowdown was not only inevitable and predictable but also desirable. And he enumerates several reasons for optimism in the medium and longer term. Which is a bit of a relief. Let’s hope this isn’t just a Panglossian stand to justify his salary.

Talking of salary justification - It’s been a while since I’ve cited one of those bizarre translations into Spanish of an English-language film. So, step up Duel, Steven Spielberg’s early [and unforgettable] thriller which centred on a car driver harassed by a huge Mack truck with an anonymous driver. I’m sure there’s a single Spanish word which would do the trick just as well as Duel but, no, what it’s actually called here is El Diablo en Ruedas. Or The Devil on Wheels. Nice but why?

On more or less the same theme - It hasn’t been a good week for Spain’s newish Minister for Equality, the rather attractive Bibiana Aído. First, she introduced a controversial help-line for aggressive males who feel in need of advice on alternatives to killing their partners. Secondly, she addressed parliament using the expression “Miembros y Miembras” despite the fact – rightly or wrongly – the latter is not in the Spanish dictionary. And, thirdly, she’s said something about gay parents being entitled to both maternity and paternity and the need to decide which one is the mother and which the father. One correspondent here has said it reminds her of the old feminist comment that we’d know there was true equality between the sexes when the government contained an equal number of female and male incompetents. Good but rather unsisterly. Mind you, Aído didn’t exactly help her case by stumbling and laughing over Miembros y Miembras, suggesting she hadn’t even read her maiden speech in advance of delivering it. Personally, I think she may be a genius. Albeit in the wrong job.

Another Minister in trouble – this time the one for the Environment and Rural Affairs – has said she’s not going to the French route of providing illegal subsidies to farmers, fishermen, truck-drivers, etc. Why on earth not? France has been doing it with impunity for at least 40 years.

No sooner do I suggest that blue is the unlucky colour for the European Championships than bloody Croatia puts Germany to the sword. Which is why I’m not a sports commentator, of course.

To end on the same depressing note I began with – The Finance Minister admits that the inflation rate has risen yet again – to 4.6% - and that his promised fall had been delayed until ‘the end of the year’. Which year? one is tempted to ask. This happened on the same day I noticed that my bank appears to be indulging in a practice which died out years ago in the UK – maintaining the interest rate on deposits at the same level as when you opened the account, while offering a higher rate to new depositors. Meaning that my 3% looks ever sicker against the rising inflation rate. Still, you have to keep smiling. Or phone a help-line.

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