Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Spanish government tells us the slump in house prices is over and now is the time to start buying again. Others, though, think the data it proffers in support of this contention is dubious. Specifically, the claim that prices have only fallen around 8% from their peak in 2007. Support for this scepticism comes in a headline in today’s Voz de Galicia, to the effect that banks are offering redeemed properties with discounts of 40%. And also complaining that for every one they sell, they have to take on another two from distressed mortgagors. Then there’s the Reuters poll of Spanish and foreign-based economists which found that on average prices were expected to fall 32 percent from their 2007 peak.

At a very local level, one positive sign is that work has re-started on the houses being built in front of my house. Albeit on a small scale and without the help of the (departed) crane needed to put the window-frames in. To be honest, the only conclusion I’m prepared to draw is that the workers are once again going to give us parking problems outside out own houses.

I’m not sure whether things are still the same in Cataluña, the Basque Country or even in Madrid but here in Galicia most everyone I know works the Spanish split day. The essence of this is going home at ‘midday’ (any time between 1.30 and 2.30) for the main meal of the day. Which means not just two rush-hours a day but four. Witnessing one of these yesterday, the question arose of how much more extra CO2 is generated by this practice. In the interests of the environment, would it be so difficult for the Spanish to conform with most (all?) other countries? Yes, I imagine.

Having a limited appetite for the trite stuff in which Sky News specialises, I’m a regular viewer of France 24’s news in English. But I do wonder whether they really understand their target Anglo audience. This week, for example, I’ve learned far, far more than I ever wanted to know about Gabon and the Ivory Coast. Presumably it’s cheap just to translate into French what they churn out for the Francosphere.

Finally . . . I see that The Times has reported that the Italians in Afghanistan not only paid the Taliban protection money but also forget to tell their French replacements about the arrangement. The Italian government, of course, rejects this as scandalously untrue but the damage is done. And now we can all remind ourselves of the old joke about the thinnest book in the world being “Italian War Heroes”.

Thank-you and Goodnight.


Midnight Golfer said...

I could care less if the data they use is dubious or not; if the government has to say "it's a good time to buy' and uses TV programs and specials to push the idea... It OBVIOUSLY isn't a good time to buy yet, at least for someone like me. Die killing works both ways, in corporate-speak we used to say 'lose-lose'

It could be very well that the small amount of pick-up in the new-construction market is actually a BAD sign (in this upside world we've subsidized ourselves into.)

Justin Roberts said...

Cue irate Italians defending their country's honour

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