Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Having predicted that a deal will ultimately be done, I wasn’t too surprised to read today that Ryanair has been invited to attend the next meeting of the Technical Sub-Committee of the Committee for Galician Air Routes. The latter I believe is the committee to end all committees; it has over thirty members (with representatives from each of Galicia’s three small airports) and all decisions have to be unanimous. Can you imagine the sort of business executive who thrives in Ryanair having fun at such a meeting? Anyway, don’t be surprised if Ryanair don’t actually stop all their flights from Galicia as of next January.

Nationally - and rather more importantly - the contenders appear to be gearing up for the race to take over the loser’s garland from President Zapatero after the 2012 general elections. Or possibly before. The front runner is the survivor from the last socialist administration, Sr Rubalcaba, and the long shot is the Minister of Defence, Carme Chacón. As someone wrote last week, this 39 year old has two things going for her – she’s female and she’s Catalan. On the other hand, he added, the two main strikes against her are that she’s female and she’s Catalan. Personally, I’d be astonished if she made it. But anyway, here’s The Economist’s take on things. In my book Sr Zap will go down as the guy who wasted a golden opportunity to deal with some of Spain’s structural problems, in favour of majoring on admirable but less important improvements to the country’s social fabric. Perhaps socialists always will.

One of said social measures was the anti-smoking law of January 2006, which I greeted with rapture until I realised it was and became, in the words of El Mundo, “One of the weakest and least respected [anti-smoking] laws in Europe.” Come next January, the pendulum will swing arguably too far in the other direction, when the toughest law in Europe will be introduced. Which seems an odd way to go about things but there we are. Spain is always different.

As for the leader of the Opposition, Sr Rajoy, he looks set to take over from Sr Zapatero in 2012, even though the reputations of both he and his PP party continue to sink. Hard as this may be to believe, Rajoy is reported to have sent a message of support to the mayor of Valladolid excoriated last week for his sexist remarks about a new female minister.

As for the even-more-important subject of Spain’s economic recovery, things continue to look bleak both for overall growth and for the astonishingly high unemployment rate of 20% plus. Meaning it’s unlikely Sr Zapatero (nor whoever his successor might be) will be able to go into the 2012 elections saying anything like “Yes, we make a helluva mess but we’ve cleared it up pretty well.”

As you’d expect, now that there are a lot fewer property deals for local politicians to facilitate and take advantage of, the public sector ‘corruption rate’ in Spain has stopped rising, after several years of growth. It remains at last year’s level of 6.1. However, Spain has fallen from 23rd to 30th position in the international table compiled by Transparency International. And with reports today of more corruption in one or more town halls, the PP party is clearly doing its best to push Spain further down the table. See here and/or here.

Talking of corruption, the Galician city of Lugo now appears to resemble Chicago at its worst. A total of eleven police officers from various forces have now been arraigned for involvement in a mafia operation encompassing people trafficking, money laundering, prostitution, drug and arms trafficking and the grilling of human babies for consumption at public orgies. Though the evidence for the last charge is slim.

Finally . . . Here’s an article on how expensive the internet is here in Spain. It reminded me of a comment I recently saw from a Spanish politician – “We now pay north European tax rates for south European services.” Which has the ring of truth about. As regards prices, as well as taxes. So thank God the pound is rising again. This week.

7 comments:

moscow said...

The pound up? was that sarcasm? In any case, as you tend to remind me yourself it is all based on sentiment...and what goes up will go down.

Colin said...

The news late last night was that the pound had risen because of the 0.8 economic growth in the most recent Qr. Next week, who knows?

Colin said...

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/8088964/Interest-rates-set-to-rise-as-economy-recovers.html

moscow said...

Sure but have you read this?
http://www.cincodias.com/articulo/opinion/enganoso-PIB-Reino-Unido/20101027cdscdiopi_6/cdsopi/

Colin said...

Not yet. But I did read this this morning . . .

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/opinion/columnists/anatolekaletsky/article2782992.ece

Quot homines, tot sententiae

Of course, in my post last night I didn't predict the pound would stay up. Only a fool makes economic forecasts even at the best of times. Which these are not . . .

moscow said...

Colin,
Truth is no country can be sure of its economic future. Even Germany could one day have the tables turned when the chinese learn how to make top-notch cars and super-efficient quality machinery. I prefer a balanced approach, which is why I agree with Charles Butler when he says Hughes' blog is just a lot of drivel. He paints the picture for Spain always with black brushes and - using your own words - he risks appearing biggoted. Ambrose is different, he gets paid to write drivel - that is ok by me. But remember his article this summer about Ireland? It would make for embarrasing reading now.

Spain has difficulties. And wouldn't there have been a lot less had ZP not been the PM? Now the reforms are coming thick and thin. Still no panacea and not enough and late but.....sigh...

Colin said...

Agreed. But I still enjoy reading what EH has to say, even if some of it is incomprehensible. And, on a specific, I think he was largely right when he forecast that Spain's economy would be effectively run (macro speaking) from Brussels in 2010.

It will be interesting to see how close this and next year's Spanish growth is to the government's forecasts. And to yours, of course. Not that I would blame anyone for being wrong. Well, not you. But the government is more in the business of trying to raise confidence so, as other governments, will always be on the top side. Consciously, I mean.

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