Monday, November 01, 2010

As I haven’t cited an article by our Ambrose for a while, here’s one on the latest EU developments, and how they affect Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain. One commentator suggested this article showed that Ambrose had ‘gone back to Economics school over the summer”. And another felt it marked the end of “36 consecutive months of drivel”. But what will reader Moscow think of it, I wonder.

Though Spain gets a plaudit or two in the above article, Ambrose feels President Zapatero has effectively been mugged by Frau Merkel and M. Sarkozy. Edward Hugh, however, remains pessimistic about both the employment situation and the banks here. You can make up your own mind. Assuming you can understand what he writes. I’m not sure I always do.

The leader of the Opposition, Sr Rajoy, finally seems to have come out of the long grass with an indication of what he might do if and when he gets into power in 2012. Bizarrely, he’s ventured onto this territory with a suggestion that David Cameron has effectively given him a useful script for Spain. Apart from the bit about annulling the law permitting gay marriages, of course. As regards the latter, Rajoy has immediately been accused by some of being homophobic. Which would be a tad ironic if there’s any truth in the rumours which circulate around his home town. And to which, needless to say, I give no credence at all. But, anyway, I now await Graeme’s professional and dispassionate dissection (over at South of Watford) of Rajoy’s long interview with El País published yesterday. I’m guessing it won’t be too flattering. Though he might get an easier ride from Guy Hedgcoe over at Qorreo.

Foto time . . . Here are a couple of snaps of The Great Wall of Poio, on the building site behind my house. Nothing has been done to it for at least three weeks. But the foreman tells me there’ll eventually be railings on top of the lovely concrete wall on top of the vast granite blocks.

And here's a van parked on the road I take down to town, at a spot where the council recently drew parking lines on one side of the road, just before/after a very tight bend. Making it even tighter. From the state of the van, my guess is that someone failed to negotiate said bend last night and hit it a glancing blow, before driving off. And I suspect the owner is away during today’s holiday and will find this pleasant surprise when he gets back late tonight.

I would say this, wouldn't I, but I've been waiting for this to happen. Actually, I've been expecting worse. But plenty of time for that yet, I fear.

And here's the front cover of a Galician satirical magazine that the publisher has refused to distribute:-

In case you don't read Gallego, it says Neither the miracle of the bread and fishes nor hosts, I'm going to make it rain banknotes. Which is, of course, a reference to the fact that the imminent papal visit will cost Gallegos three million euros.

Finally . . .  This blog-writing has its ups-and-downs. This morning, I received a message from a Galician chap who wrote to say how much he enjoyed my blog. And then, this evening, I see there’s a critical comment to yesterday’s post from a lady called Maria living in Pontevedra (which narrows it down). She accuses me of not embracing Galician culture and of writing a blog which is “about as joyful and uplifting as a spoilt 14 year old girl's live journal.” So, I guess she won’t be signing up for the RSS feed.

Tailnote for new readers: My daughter tells me she’s had over 600 hits to her new novel. Which must say something. The first nine chapters of this fine work can now be downloaded in pdf form, for easy reading. It’s a “Fast-paced political thriller but, above all, a personal tale of pride and paranoia.” Set in a fictionalised Cuba, it’s being e-published at the rate of at least a couple of chapters a week. If this entices you, click here.


moscow said...

Well, it is easy. He continues to write on the assumption that the PIGS wil stay stuck. They have nor the wits nor the will to re-invent themselves. But that is what I always said the Euro would do. It would force change from within. It is already doing that. And more will come. Sorry to gloat but I feel so...vindicated. Basicly, my assumption that staying within the Euro would force change was totally right. Ambrose seems to think that is a bad thing. No...... after careful is still drivel!!

Colin said...

I have no problem if you gloat. Gloat away!

But are you seriously saying it's good for Spain to have gone the way it's gone in the last 10 years and the way it will go over the next X years. Thanks to fiscal policies designed then and now for Germany? Don't you think some of the corruption, misgotten gains, unemployment, misery, etc., etc. could have been avoided? Without Spain having to leave the EU, I mean. Or do you think that change was only ever going to come when, like an alcoholic, Spain touched rock bottom? So it all had to happen - first the (phoney) boom and then the (not-so-phoney-for-some) bust.

Actually, my recollection is that Ambrose has always been critical of the German approach in the context of what's best for the EU. Which doesn't mean he likes/supports the EU institution.

And then there's the question of whether social unrest - in Greece, Ireland or even Spain - will change the course of (economic) events. Especially if the medicine gets nastier and nastier.

moscow said...

You see a problem where there is none. Spain had a binge. And so had the USA, the UK, Ireland, Iceland, and so on. It is notoriously difficult to avoid property booms. As I have already said about a 1000 times on this blog it is lunacy to assert that all the growth Spain had since 1993to 2008 was just virtual. Just a part of it was. That doesn't mean that it was good. And for those of us who were biting their nails already around 2003 or so it didn't come as a surprise. Spain has been in a process of modernising and reforming its economy since around 1957. It has transformed itself completely, but the pace of reform slowed down lately, particularly after ZP came to power. The Euro is the right medicine because it puts pressure on Spain to reform. Spain is in a cul-de-sac, either it reforms or it is "adios amigo". I am with Merkel on this one - problably not a problem for me as I hold a German passport. The fact that Spain's exports are growing is enough evidence for me to put an end to all that drivel about PIGS, periphery and Spain not being up to it, blah, blah....

Colin said...

Has anyone ever said/implied that all growth since 1993 was virtual?

The 'phoney' element of the 2000-2007 boom was its dependence on a property boom driven by all the factors you are more aware of than me. Leaving a huge overhang and millions of (mostly immigrants?) unemployed.

Of course there was other growth as well, financed (I guess) in part by all the hot money that flowed into Spain. And the cold stuff from Brussels, of course.

I am with you on the capability of Spain to do better but perhaps feel she has a bigger challenge than you do. But, then, I am corrupted in my view by the examples of inefficiency and low productivity which I see around me (as well as a lot of hard work) but I accept this may not be representative of Spain as a whole.
And, of course I don't believe there is no inefficiency and low productivity in, say, Britain.

BTW - Genuine question. Which Spanish exports are doing well, off the top of your head. Products and services, I mean.

moscow said...

Furniture, defence&weapons, railway technology, automotive components, aerospace technology and components, machinery&equipment, renewable energy tech&components, construction materials, wine,.....

CafeMark said...

"Furniture, defence&weapons, railway technology, automotive components, aerospace technology and components, machinery&equipment, renewable energy tech&components, construction materials, wine,....."
Wow. Apart from wine, no Brit I know would have thought of Spain as being strong in those fields. Which reflects very badly on Brits and their cultural arrogance.

Guiri said...

I should click through to the blog (or more specifically the comments) more often. Colin and Moscow have quite a thing going on here!

I only came through this time to comment that contrary to Maria de Pontevedra, I enjoy Colin's curmudgeonly commonts on living in spain.

Anonymous said...


You see, Spain is no Germany or Japan. Even Italy is still ahead in more ways than one.

But, watching the BBC a few months ago there was this programme about a young Greek lady who was on about with her tale about how she was coping with the crisis in Greece. She had just come back from a short trip to Barcelona to visit friends, and she was telling her dad how the crisis was affecting Spain, concluding that things were never quite as bad as in Greece.....and that,....according to her.... because whereas Spain like Greece lives basicly of tourism (sic), Spain had managed somehow unlike Greece to "keep its tourists coming...." (sic2).

Colin said...


Yes, Moscow and I go back a long way. I like to think of him as a reader, a sparring-partner and a friend but I'm not sure he'd include the last one . . .

Anyway, Moscow, if you read this, I was fascintated by your comment that welfare has been rolled back in some EU countries.

I assume we're talking about more than a later retirement age here and would be very interested to know what sort of changes have been made. The Blair government came in promising to 'think the unthinkable' and reform the British Hydra but just made it worse.

With a father in care and a mother who gets money thrown at her by the British state (making her richer at 85 than at any other time in her life) I wonder whether things such as sickness benefit, disability benefit, unememployment benefit, housing benefit, single parent benefit, single dweller benefit, child benefit, carer benefit, tax credits, etc. etc., have been reduced/eliminated elsewhere in Europe.

moscow said...

Colin, Colin,
speak to your Dutch friend and he will tell how the welfare state has been trimmed down in Holland over the years. The Swedes went through a watershead experience in the early nineties when they were on the verge of banktruptcy. I am aware of cuts in Germany since the late 80s. The fact that all these countries still have social spending well above that of Britain or Spain doesn't mean that there haven't been changes.
Well, you would certainly not know it if you read the anglo-american press.

I worked in an auditing company in the late 80s in Germany. We did the audit for Deutsche Post then. It is now I believe fully private (doesn't DHL belong to them?) But then they had to be taught what a balance sheet was. The change took 10 years - like watching a tanker veer 180 degrees, I guess. Many changes have been implemented in Germany since the times when the Kohl government started to take note of the Reaganite/thatcherite drive to cut the state down to size. But these changes have been drawn out over 20 years, and bit by bit the welfare state has been trimmed considerably. As I said, nobody in Fleet street or Wall Street cares one jot (to tell the truth I mean). They have their own agenda.

moscow said...

Oh and since we are at it, it seems Lloyds is getting a new spanish doubt you will be watching closely....

Colin said...

Yes, I saw the appointment. Best of luck to him. There's just as much talent in Spain as there is anywhere. What concerns me is the attitude (not the inherent intelligence) of people and the companies they form. See my litle tale(s) tonight. Mapfre and the Don Pedro hotel. . . .

I wondered whether, with you account of your work experience, you were really saying that the size of the public sector had been reduced (through privatisations a la Thatcher), rather than the welfare bill had been reduced by the elimination or curtailing of specific benefits. But, on re-reading, I've concluded that you did mean the latter. Any specific examples of reduced/eliminated benefits, while I wait for my Dutch friend's response?

Thanks for the export examples. Only the furniture one really surprised me. But, then, we have talked about thisd before and I have done some research in the past. But CafeMark is right, of course. But, then, the Brits wouldn't know anything about most other countries' exports. Or their own. Would Spaniards?

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