Saturday, July 09, 2011

Here's a view from Spain on the British media scandal, albeit from a Brit, the excellent John Carlin who writes in El País. It's in Spanish but Google gives an adequate translation. One of the many points he makes is that “The consensus from the British prime minister to readers of the News of the World, is that it has crossed a line. But the truth is that this was crossed long ago.”

In the Daily Telegraph, the equally excellent Peter Oborne addressed the obscene power brutally wielded by Rupert Murdoch and describes how David Cameron tried but failed to avoid his embrace. And for which he may now pay a heavy price. A sampler . . . “For more than three decades the most powerful man in Britain has not been a politician; it has been the brilliant but ruthless US-based media tycoon Rupert Murdoch. . . He did not just control our media. He dominated British public life. Politicians – including prime ministers – treated him with deference and fear. Time and again the Murdoch press – using techniques of which we have only just become aware – destroyed political careers. . . There were those [me included] who believed that Murdoch had debased and debauched British public life, and there is indeed great evidence that this was the case. The bitter truth is that no major figure in British public life was prepared to take on and expose the Murdoch newspaper empire. . . This is why, for more than a generation, Rupert Murdoch’s empire has been a spider at the heart of an intricate web that has poisoned British public life. Murdoch used his power to immense effect, undermining and attacking our greatest public institutions – above all the monarchy and the judiciary. His employees believed they were above the law and could act with impunity. And this was indeed the case, thanks to the connivance of police, politicians and the press. . . Cameron is still unable to extract himself from the sewer in which he is still swimming. At his press conference, he failed to take the vital step needed if he is ever to break free from this sordid business. He must refer to Ofcom, not just the proposed Murdoch consolidation of BSkyB, but all the Murdoch business in Britain to see if Rupert Murdoch himself, in the light of the disgraceful conduct of his businesses, passes the “Fit and proper person” test for ownership of a British public company." Read it all here.

But, anyway, back to Spain. Here's The Economist's answer to the question of How vulnerable is Spain? It all depends, the magazine says, on which Spain you mean. I aim to come back on this dichotomy next week. It's too important for Saturday night. Meanwhile, the overview of the magazine is that “The austerity program and the reform of the cajas are moves in the right direction but neither will work if the economy continues to stagnate. The recovery so far has been disappointing, although one bright spot is a big reduction in the current-account deficit.”

And here's a lot of info on the Spanish property market as it currently is and has been. Though not on how it will be.

Down in Pontevedra the Indignados' tents have all gone, with the exception of one large one which served as their HQ. The beer I saw being bought the other night was presumably for a break-up party. The local papers reported today that they've asked the council for a permanent base in the form of one of the many empty shops around town. The council's said it will give an answer in two weeks' time but I think we can guess now what this will be.

Finally . . . A nice microphone gaffe on the part of the Presidenta of the Madrid Region when attending the celebration of some investment by the Madrid City government. Chatting to the President of the latter, she commented “You're lucky to be able to do this; we haven't got a fucking penny.” To which he replied, “Neither have we.”

So now we know. The country's well and truly bust. Who needs The Economist (or, indeed, the 'Anglo-Saxon' ratings agencies) when the politicians admit it? Albeit only to each other. Or not, as the case might be.

7 comments:

Mike the Traditionalist said...

House prices started rising very quickly during the 70s when the new "dinks" (double income no kids) appeared on the scene. Before that it was based on one person's wages but greed crept in and they started allowing mortgages based on double incomes. Then to add more to the pot they started giving mortgages to people who were allowed to give a self assessment of their income. Of course sellers could get what price they wanted through the advice of so called estate agents who were only interested in the percentage they would receive from the selling price and bumped the price up as high as the buyer would be prepared to pay. How can one wage earner in the UK afford a mortgage. In the middle 70s I was paying 18 percent on my mortgage. Thanks to my Galega wife we survived as she was used to living near the poverty line before we married.

Graeme said...

I suppose we'll have to wait a while for Peter Oborne's take on whether the Barclay brothers pass the "fit and proper person" tes for ownership of the Telegraph. We could always ask the people of Sark? Why on earth would they want to own a channel island anyway? Oh of course....

Colin said...

Well, we may have to wait for Oborne but Private Eye asks the question in every edition. So at least someone is doing it.

Sierra said...

A further view on Peter Oborne:

http://order-order.com/2011/07/08/oborne-flip-flops-again/#comments

Colin said...

@ Graeme

And, of course, though they are a couple of neer-do-wells who've ruined a decent paper, they don't wield anything like the power of the Murdoch family Likewise old Conrad.

Colin said...

@Mike

Yes, I recall those times, Mike. When repayments could only be a max of 25% of ONE salary and when you had to beg to even be considered for a mortgage and then wait weeks for a monthly committee to decide whether or not to give you one, on the strictest of conditions, including term insurance which protected them if you lost your job for any reason. And then the american banks realised what a no-risk but highly profitable business this was and piled in, taking things to the other extreme. The latter, of course, included endowment linked mortgages, which I checked out in great detail and decided to pass up on. Not believing the promises of huge surpluses at the end, from stock market growth. Different times . . .

Mike the Traditionalist said...

@Colin
Well an endowment mortgage(tied in with life insurance etc.)was the only one I could get at the time but I took the minimum profits option. With that kind of mortgage one always paid a higher interest rate than the normal mortgage. I did get a tidy sum when I paid off my mortgage so if I had taken the higher premium I may have gained more but I wasn't willing to take that chance.

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