To counter all the gloom about the Spanish economy, here’s an upbeat article from today’s El País in which the writer insists The Spanish Patient will soon leave the intensive care unit as its fundamentals are sound. Though he does admit that the lack of transparency in the banking sector gives rise to reasonable concerns about the country’s health. And that something needs to be done about it, if credibility is to be regained.
A few weeks ago I was going to remark on a proposed law under which Spanish politicians would have to provide details of their assets. Specifically, I was going to express the thought that it might be a good idea to extend this to their spouses and relatives. Anyway, I was reminded of this when reading that the President of the Valencian government – whose head is currently wreathed in accusations of corruption – had declared that he drives a very old car and has only 600 euros in the bank. You almost have to admire his cheek. But, then, the judge in his case is an old friend and this seems to count in Spain.
The Spanish property market is something of a mystery to most of us. One thing, at least, is clear – normal Anglo-Saxon principles don’t apply. Whether there’s a cogent set of Hispanic principles to which everyone here subscribes is less clear. But, anyway, I wasn’t too surprised to read that Santiago de Compostela boasts a large number of empty flats whose owners refuse to lower the selling price even though they’re ‘old’ and have been on the market for four or five years. One possible explanation is that most of the owners have emigrated so “don’t need to sell until they get the price they first thought of.” Which might now be a lot longer than the four-five years so far.
Which reminds me . . . I read today that Spanish young folk are the last in Europe to leave home for an independent life. Not news in itself, of course, but I was sympathetic to the claim that one major factor is the difficulty of getting rented property at reasonable prices. This must be the reason, I guess, why one Spanish couple I know have their three 25-35 year old kids living at home, even though they all have good jobs. Of course, the other reason could be that the kids are smart enough to realise that paying not so much as a red sou towards their keep is quite a good deal.
Finally . . . Though Galicia is a naturally beautiful part of the world, it also has a reputation for having some of the ugliest houses in Spain. In part, of course, this is a reflection of hundreds of years of poverty. And of the fact it’s not as hot up here as down in, say, Andalucia. And it’s not to say there aren’t some magnificent granite properties here, small as well as large. I’m prompted to mention this by an article in today’s Voz de Galicia on the Worst Bodges of 2009. To be honest, I saw something even uglier today but didn’t have my camera with me. Maybe tomorrow.
And talking of a lovely stone property . . .