Monday, February 01, 2010

Over the years, I’ve used a number of adjectives to describe the construction boom here in Spain. I think ‘ludicrous’ was one of them but I’m sure the most frequent was ‘phoney’. But I see that fellow-blogger – and property expert – Mark Stucklin now favours ‘deranged’. I can’t recall whether he felt this way about it four or five years ago but feel I should give him the benefit of the doubt.

I predicted a while ago that it wouldn’t be long before anti-EU articles began appearing in the Spanish press. Another easy forecast, perhaps. Anyway, El País today carried an article that asked if Spain really had to go through difficult economic restructuring without being able to lumber Brussels with the cost of it all, what then was the point of the EU. Perhaps, in this case, the writer had his tongue in his cheek but he went on to claim that Spain had already taken tough measures not taken by other members. Including France and Germany as well as Portugal, Italy and Greece. And to complain it wasn’t fair that, after all this EU-driven pain, the international markets were now forcing more of it on Spain. Possibly endorsing Alfred B Mittington’s thesis I posted a few weeks ago, the writer finally added that it was little wonder that President Zapollyanna preferred to seek castigation from the EU than from global markets which were more interested in acting on the basis of southern European stereotypes than on the fundamentals of Spain’s economy. I suspect, though, that he really expected this to come hand in hand with more bunce from Brussels in the form of subventions. And I couldn’t help noticing that no mention was made of the squillions received to-date.

You can tell times are hard when the number of Spanish municipalities bidding to be the location of a nuclear waste disposal plant rises rapidly from one to eleven. With more to come, I suspect.

You’ll recall that the two Galician savings banks (the Caixas) are being pushed into a shotgun marriage by the regional government, the Xunta. And strange bedfellows this is producing too. Firstly, the local conservative party and the Galician Nationalist party (normally daggers-drawn) supported it but the local socialist party didn’t. Then the Madrid leadership of the conservative party seemed to back away from its initial support. And now the Bank of Spain and the central (socialist) government have said they don’t want it and the law (hastily) introduced to effect it is probably illegal. All of which suggests the motivation behind the fusion has far more to do with politics than finance and economics. God forbid that any foreign savings bank (i. e. from outside the region) be allowed to marry into the family. Even if they bring a bigger dowry and a brighter future.

Talking about Galician wars . . . I read something the other day about a regiment of Gallegos – led by a chap from Pontevedra – beating off a force of 30,000 Brits outside Buenos Aires in Argentina, sometime in the early 19th century. Well, I never read anything about this in my school history books. So I figure it can’t be true.

Finally, the first fifteen minutes of my conversation class with teachers of English this evening was taken up by a young teacher who doesn’t normally attend. Essentially, she wanted the help of everyone else for a hundred-word ‘essay’ in English she was going to have to write for an exam at the School of Languages tonight. What she really was after was a detailed crib sheet, known here as una chuleta (chop) and what surprised me – though perhaps it shouldn’t have done – was that everyone threw themselves into the challenge without indicating the slightest concern about the morality of it all. I was rather less surprised that my own suggestion on the theme of The Pluses and Minuses of Mobile Phones – viz. that they can help you cheat in exams – fell on stony ground. Or, rather, it didn’t. It was dutifully scribbled down.

1 comment:

Alberto said...

I can't agree with the article from El País even without reading it. Despite whatever they could say, the pain on Spain's economy is mostly self-inflicted and irrespective of the presence of Spain in the EU, there is a pressing need of reforms. Specially in the area I fear most: work legislation (I'm not specially cheap to sack)

And regarding the Tercio de Gallegos it was a militia unit formed of galicians that fighted against the second British invasion of Buenos Aires in 1807, but it was part of a larger army and the britts where less than 30.000 (around 7.000 defenders for 8.000 attackers) but, yes, the assault was repulsed and the British empire had to conform to take the Falklands in 1833 (but they weren't spanish by them so, no hard feelings)

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