Monday, July 14, 2008

The Spanish President and his ministers have now caught up with the rest of us and have recognised the economy is in crisis and that the country – like the UK - is close to recession. Given the welter of poor statistics and the pronouncements of leading bankers, it’s hard to see what else they could do. Even if it does make their pre-election promises and forecasts look like the chunderings of the village idiot.

Looming large among the negative developments is the announcement that Spain’s biggest property developer is on the verge of Administration/Receivership. Maybe it’s this which has compelled the construction industry – or some of it, at least – to stop claiming prices are firm and to admit, not only that they are falling, but that there’s worse to come. Of course there is. The house-starts of late 2005 and early 2006 will be coming onto the market soon, meaning there’ll be an ‘overhang’ of close to a million unsold properties by the end of the year. Plus those which have been bought but which the owners are desperate to offload as they can’t afford the mortgage.

On the other hand, housing starts have - naturally – ground to a halt. So, anyone for a shortage and rapid price rises in, say, 2012?

And every cloud has a silver lining. A recent cartoon in El País had a couple of [funcionario?] chaps worrying that the collapse of the construction industry might endanger town hall corruption.

Those of you who enjoyed the recent photos of a bullfighter getting the worst of the fight, might like to see this blog from the hispanophile, Daniel Hannan, whichever side of the divide you’re on

In a country in which 9am is considered early, it’s a real conundrum why the firecrackers which mark the beginning of a día festival are set off as early as 6.45. When even Spain’s few ‘larks’ are trying to sleep in. It’s doubly strange, given that everyone goes out on the tiles on the evening before a holiday. Starting around 11pm.

Can you believe it? El País at the weekend had an article on the problems caused by the increasing urban populations of disease-ridden pigeons. Perhaps we’ll see some action now. And perhaps we won’t.

Here’s an article which addresses the conflict between the two great concerns of our age – global warming and poverty. As the writer says:- There are two prevailing fashions dominating the political scene, whose aims and effects are in direct contradiction with one another. But that does not prevent virtually all of the political parties in the Western democracies from attempting to embrace both at the same time. They are global warming and the mission to eradicate poverty. What scarcely any leader seems prepared to admit is that the objectives and tactics involved in forwarding the cause of preventing global warming are inimical to the cause of fighting poverty on a national and an international level. . . We are about to reach the end of this political game: "incoherence" may be a fancy word bandied about by political policy obsessives like me, but voters know a contradiction when they see one - especially when they end up paying for it. You can be the party of the environment or you can be the party of the poor, but you can't be both - at least not at the same time.

Galicia Facts

The good news is that, when it comes to wave power, Galicia ranks after only the UK. And, no matter how high they are, waves offshore look a lot better than wind turbines onshore. Even if the blasted things are in an ‘eolic park’

The bad news is that it’s the Galician women who are best educated who are being hit hardest by the current economic crisis. Perhaps this is because the service industries – including tourism – are surviving better.

The arrival of [semi] summer brings a lot of Spanish-looking people and their partners and kids speaking French and German. These are the emigrant workers returning ‘home’ with their foreign families. Then there are the Portuguese speakers, whose language may look like Gallego when written but which sounds somewhat different. At least to me.

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