The Spanish economy: Yes, the comments to the recent Economist article are more interesting than the article itself. Without claiming they’re either representative or correct, here are a few that appealed to me:-
1. I'd like to point out a feature of the Spanish culture. It’s an extension of the Mediterranean culture; When things go wrong and tempers run high, instead of fixing the problem, we start fighting each other. Everybody goes around seething with anger, looking for somebody to blame for everything. Then the whole country becomes a theatrical set.
2. Spain - A country where nothing makes sense... I’ve been living in Madrid for the last 5 years and I still can't figure out how things work here:-
* unemployment approaching 20%
* a housing bubble that refuses to pop
* super low salaries
* a highly unproductive workforce
* low purchasing power for consumers
* a very conformist society – people seem content with the status quo
* a government that is oblivious to its problems
* rampant tax evasion
* millions of unsold new flats
* millions of second hand flats that no one will buy
* a false belief that housing prices never fall
* banks hiding billions in non performing loans & mortgages
Someone tell me when things give!
3. Several readers have commented on the relative lack of civil disorder given the country has around 20% unemployment. Well, my answer would be 'wait and see'. At present a large part of Spain seems to be in a kind of collective wishful thinking mode. . . . I think it's only a question of time before Spain becomes an international problem for the ECB, IMF or whatever. The country's going to need a huge bail-out which it will get, but with conditions. Then the fun will really start because the government, whoever it may be, is going to have to make sweeping reforms to its economic and social systems. Maybe 'necessity will be the mother of invention'. I hope so.
The EU: This is primarily for reader Moscow, whose email I’ve lost . . . Here’s a famous British eurosceptic’s take on a performance by a famous British europhile. And here’s how the former says he’d reform the EU, if he could.
Anthropomorphic Global Warming (AGW): Here’s the case for the Opposition. We wait to see if it’s overstated or not.
Galicia 1: On the France 24 TV channel this morning there was a 15 minute special on cocaine smuggling into Galicia. You can see this on their web page, if interested. You won’t learn much but you will see some pretty estuaries and harbours.
Galicia 2: On the recommendation of an anonymous reader, I’m working my way through Otra Idea de Galicia (Another Idea of Galicia) by Miguel-Anxo Murado. And, you’ll be pleased to hear, taking appropriate notes. These are for a future post but I’ll pass on here the fact that the first victims of the Inquisition in Galicia were five British sailors. Having survived shipwreck off Finisterra, they were then burned at the stake in Santiago. It really was The End of the World for them. Well, this one anyway.
Finally . . . Plumber number 6 did arrive at 10.30 yesterday and was prompt again in the afternoon, at 3 on the dot. Which is more than I was. He turned up even earlier this morning and again at 2.30. He’s worked commendably hard all day today and will hopefully give me some heating by tomorrow morning. Which is just as well as we’re now enduring the worst combination of Galician winter weather – incessant rain and low temperatures. This, of course, is the price we pay for living in the first place in Europe the Atlantic weather hits. Even more aware of this than me will be the poor sods who ran the half-marathon in Pontevedra on Sunday morning.