Here in Spain, we are living through deflationary times. Or so they say. But someone seems to have forgotten to tell the owner of the tapas bar I went to today, where the bread has risen from 0.50 to 1.50. Likewise the sellers of Espson ink cartridges, which have risen from 9.75 to 11.75. Must be the weak euro . . .
The President of the Galician Xunta had a meeting today with the heads of our two savings banks, ostensibly to ask them to talk sense around a merger neither of them seem to want. But the consensus is this is just a formality before - under pressure from the Bank of Spain and the PP party HQ in Madrid - he tells them it’s taking place whether they like it or not. Perhaps his trump card will be that, if they don’t play ball, they’ll end up losing some of their Galician-ness as a result of merger with a ‘foreign’ bank. Meaning from Madrid or Barcelona, of course. Whose politicians are not from round here.
Spain is, of course, famous for its ‘localist’ tendencies and, sometimes, one feels a little schizoid living in a place where ‘national’ really means regional (even, at times, parochial) and where there’s one strong pull in the direction of the infra-national region and another in the direction of the supra-national EU. Of course, right now the EU is a popular source of funds but one wonders what will happen if and when these dry up.
Galicia’s population is just under 3 million but her fertility rate is one of the lowest in the world and recent declines in population are forecast to continue. Taken with the (expensive) ageing of the populace, this presents formidable problems to the region’s politicians and it would be nice to think they’re taking a long-term, global view of their challenges. But I rather doubt they are.
Anyway, I got to thinking about how Galicia compares with a part of the UK with a similar population and came up with the Greater Manchester Area. So, if you click here, you can go to a first stab at a comparison that has no great significance and from which I decline right now to draw conclusions. But which is at least interesting and occasionally fascinating. I’ll be expanding this, as things occur to me, and would be happy to receive suggestions in the Comments section. From almost anybody.
The note I will end on is that, whatever this comparison seems to suggest, my conviction is the good people of Galicia have, in general, a better quality of life than those of Greater Manchester.