Thursday, March 05, 2009

My perception is it takes between one and five years to build a property in Spain. Which is one reason why, although the property sector currently has little life in it, new houses and flats keep coming on the market in large numbers. And will do so for a while yet. Someone has now said it’ll be the end of 2011 – or three years - before the stock of properties is finally sold off. Which means that, if you want to sell houses and flats in early 2012, you should be starting to build them around now. As this is probably not happening, I guess we can confidently predict a shortage sometime in 2012 and, so, escalating prices.

I’ve said a number of times that, although I’m personally against the imposition of any language, this is an issue for the local populace, speaking through the ballot box. Well, on the surface at least, it looks as if the Galicians have voted against the nationalist BNG party’s measures aimed at promoting Gallego at the expense of Spanish. My own take on this is that the Galicians were happier when they were free to use either Gallego or Spanish, and to move back and forth as courtesy dictated. And as I witness every day. It will be interesting to see now whether the new Xunta does anything to reverse or just palliate the measures introduced in the last four years. I guess it’s unlikely laws will be taken off the statue book. However, inspections aimed at ensuring kids are being taught in Gallego might just reduce, for example. As with the anti-smoking laws, legislation in one thing but implementation quite another.

Central to my thoughts on this is the perception that there’s traditionally been more harmony – or less disharmony – around language here in Galicia than in both the Basque Country or Cataluña. My theory for this is that the two languages here are so similar it’s pretty easy to master both of them and to move between them as the occasion demands. Indeed, as I recall, one of my Gallego readers once put this forward – “It only takes 3 months for a Spanish speaker to master Gallego” – to justify it being compulsory. Anyway, it’s only a theory and I won’t mind at all if any of my Galician readers shoots it to pieces.

Up in Cataluña, meanwhile, things seem to be going in the opposite direction. Presumably in accordance with the wishes of the majority. Trevor The Baldie has crisp words on this. And other Cataloony nonsenses. His word, I think. Not mine.

It’s an article of faith here in Spain that the country’s banks – having learned their lessons in an early 90s debacle – have not operated as stupidly as those in other parts of the world. Given their investments in the artificially booming construction sector, this view has naturally been questioned. And now the Standard and Poor’s credit agency has rather dented their image by downgrading several of them because of concerns about their balance sheets – specifically their exposure to bad debts. But not Banco Santander.

On a wider front . . . In his address to the US Congress, Mr Brown has called for global measures to deal with the world’s economic problems. This is at a time when a mere 27 EU partners can’t reach a consensus. Or even the 15[?] members of the eurozone. So, something of an optimist, our Gordon.

I see Ted Kennedy is to be given an honorary knighthood. He’s been around a long time but the only words that spring to my mind when his name crops up are:- 1. Chappaquiddick, 2. Mary Jo Kopechne, and 3. “Freedom fighters” as a preferred term for IRA terrorists. I once wrote to him saying I was setting up the Texas Freedom Fighters Front and would like similar sympathy and support in Congress. Oh, and some cash for our bombs. But he never replied. Seems a perfect candidate for the highest British honour in today’s debased times. After all, some of the Blair’s appointees to the House of Lords are openly on sale.

Finally, I also see the Bank of England is to start, in effect, printing money. And the European Central Bank is expected to do likewise. As someone has written - “The ECB has argued, quite reasonably, that printing money will potentially generate high inflation in the coming years. But the more pressing prospect of impending European economic collapse, and indeed the threatened disintegration of the euro itself, are compelling enough arguments for it to change its mind. Preventing high inflation is a worthy aim, but useless if, after all your efforts, there's no functioning economy left.” So, hold on tight for the ride, folks. We are in new territory. But the positive news is - “It is a policy America's Federal Reserve embarked on some months ago and there are tantalising signs that the operation could be starting to work.” Time to buy those cheap shares


Justin Roberts said...

What are your thoughts on Princess Ann's "untimely" visit to Gibraltar?

Ferolano said...

My understanding is that a knight is supposed to rescue damsels in distress and not leave them to drown!

Colin said...


This is a - complicated - subject on which the PSOE has had a much more sensible and pragmatic stance than the PP. It's interesting to see the range of views in Spain, with the Left being generally rather unconcerned and the Far Right being almost apoplectic. Personally, I am with the British government, which has wanted to get rid of Gib for at least 50 years but can't because of the locals and the tabloids. Spain, of course, as with Kosovo, can't agree that local 'nations' should be free to vote for dependence or independence as this would open the door to the departure of some of her regions. Though not to the loss of her colonies/enclaves in nearbt North Africa.

Sierra said...

"I guess we can confidently predict a shortage sometime in 2012 and, so, escalating prices."

In my area, Lugo province, a large number of construction sites have been abandoned. Presumably our "solid" banks have been left holding the baby. Any sign of shortage in 2012 and these will be reactivated, and it'll be another 2 or 3 years before any new starts.

Ferolano said...

I rather like the historic status quo with both Britain in the shape of Gibraltar and Spain with her North African enclaves (Ceuta & Melilla) controlling the Mediterranean. All over the world there are many small pockets of history that harm nobody but rather add to the curiosity of mankind. If Princess Anne wishes to visit Gib, great, bacon and eggs are available all day!

By the way, did Spain ever take off the 1 peseta surcharge imposed on the postal rate around 1970 to pay the Spanish workers (in Gibraltar) who would be without work due to the government of the day closing the border?

Colin said...

Sierra, Yes, unless these are part of the stock which will be run down over the next 3 years.

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