Monday, April 13, 2009

Spanish banks are now operating at the country's largest estate agents (realtors) and are inevitably resorting to notional discounts and easy finance to get shut of the thousands of properties taken onto their books as settlement of loans made to developers and builders. Not everyone is convinced that the prices are yet realistic.

Still on construction . . . It seems that the flow of new - but unwanted - properties onto the market has finally begun to slow down. That it's taken this long reflects, of course, the long lead time on the buidling of flats and houses here. Those in front of my house are now in their fourth year of construction and, alas, the end is not yet in sight. At this rate, someone might actually want to buy one when they're finished.

Only in Spain? Here’s the opening paragraph from a report I read in one of today’s national papers:- The gang of drug smugglers who stole 600 kilos of cocaine from the port in Barcelona, in a raid which uncovered a racket involving the National Guard and the national police, celebrated their achievement with a two-day party in a brothel which was made exclusively available to them.

Here’s The Economist’s take on the cabinet changes announced last week. I always enjoy the dialogues these generate between Spaniards of a different stamp. Until, that is, they descend into tribal mud-slinging. Which, sadly, sometimes doesn’t take very long. Anyway, the magazine endorses my own comment that President Zapatero is only now beginning to pay the price for a downturn which started some time ago.

I also wrote that, as a result of EU membership, President Z’s room for manoeuvre was severely restricted. But a major development was, in fact, trailed today. If I understand it, the intention is to extend unemployment pay from the current two years to three. One wonders, firstly, where the money will come from and, secondly, whether this really is the best start that could be made on re-structuring Spain’s economy. But it certainly fits with a socialist administration and it might restore a bit of popularity before the EU elections in the summer.

Financed by the funds flowing from property transaction taxes, the town council of Pontevedra has been carrying out disruptive public works (obras) for at least the eight years I’ve been here. And they’re still at it. In fact, the area in front of the town hall and the Alameda which stretches away from it down to the old port are totally obscured by temporary metal fences surrounding excavations in respect of a new underground car park. A complete mess. So, if you intend to visit us this summer, you have been warned. If you read anything suggesting it’ll all be finished by the time you come here, don’t believe it for a second.

Looking ahead, and pondering an ‘adventure holiday’ - Has anyone produced an advance guide to the summer riots of 2010?

To end of a positive note - Road deaths over the Easter holidays were 39, against 58 last year. A real success.

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