Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Spanish economy: I've happened upon a commentary on Europe's crisis by a chap called Haydn Shaughnessy. It's entitled “Europe’s Disintegration: It’s Not About the PIIGS or the Euro.” Nor is it about debt, he says. “Take a look at the UK, a country outside the Eurozone with a suspected £4 trillion of debts – four times the headline amount the UK Government acknowledges. There is no sense of crisis circling sterling. Debt in Europe is, however, a strong signal for economic mismanagement on an unprecedented scale. . . . A large chunk of the blame for economic mismanagement lies with Europe’s economic policies, in its approach to innovation and its investments in economic development. . . The system of awarding funds is insular, long winded and in no sense responsive to markets. Which areas of research should receive money is decided by the people who will bid for it and projects are assessed by people who are also applying. . . The way Europe spends on countries like Spain is just as crazy. And the institutional arrangements and guardians of EU money are culpable here too. . . Spain for example gave birth to the first modern ghost towns, whole mini-cities that were so under-populated they were were incapable of supporting an infrastructure, created in part because its construction industry has been subsidised by European money for the past twenty five years. . . . Nobody wants to scoff but to believe for one minute that debt relief is going to solve this problem is simplistic. The solution begins with honesty and self-reflection, two attributes the EU project is not well endowed with. Maybe, just maybe, this problem has got big enough to force the issue.” Discuss. More here, if needed.

Meanwhile and a propos, here in Galicia it's reported that the town council of Barreiro, near Lugo, has finally found a solution to the problem of 5,800 flats illegally built there. It's going to legalise them and then expand the town's population from 3,200 to 23,500 within a few years. Presumably by waving a magic wand. The first step will be to invest in the infrastructure for this new town, assuming they can find the money in these straitened times.

Nationwide, we're told by no less than the Secretary for Employment that nearly a million unemployed youngsters aren't in any condition to find a job – or even to start vocational or professional training. “Around 20% of the country's jobseekers are victims of the economic boom which saw the construction industry crying out for workers between 1997 and 2006 and, now that the sector is barely trading, have no real possibilities of finding work. These people left school at 16 and worked their way up 'on the job' in the building trade and related industries, enjoying the fruits of the mass development that saw much of Spain's coastline buried in concrete. None of them went on to study for their Bachillerato and some didn't even finish their secondary education. As a result, these young people – now aged between 21 and 30 - wouldn't be accepted on any professional training courses, because they don't have the basic academic qualifications necessary to do so.” No doubt they'll have at least the sympathy of all those who insisted Spain's entry into the Euro would force the necessary reforms and make the country stronger. Maybe it'll just take longer than expected/hoped.

Meanwhile, though, here's El País telling us that, a year on, the labour market reforms have changed nothing as regards employment levels and the granting of 'permanent' job contracts. In brief, they're a failure so far.

Interestingly, El País has also had a go at 'inefficient shopkeepers', for lobbying the government to maintain the restrictions on Sunday opening. Which is a very rare bird in Spain.

But at least there's good news from the property market, isn't there? Well, yes, if you're a buyer and want to beat the price down. Latest dismal data here.

But enough of this grief. Here's something to make you smile . . . The next PSOE Presidential contender is a man who's bald, bearded, ugly and tainted by association with the corrupt administration a few years back of Felipe González. In telegenicity-obsessed Anglo cultures, he'd stand no chance of success. And his prospects aren't that much better here, whether the elections take place next May or, as most folk now expect, in early winter this year. Here's IberoSphere on this topic. And here's a better picture of the chap.

I was interested to see in an episode of the wonderful Family Guy that the US stereotype of us Brits is that we don't clean our teeth. They seem unaware that, within the UK, this belief attaches only to the Scots. Who are also suspected of being unaware of the existence of fruit.

Finally . . . My net friend and fellow-blogger, Trevor ap Simon, has produced a guide on walking to various airports. God knows who'll use it but here it is!

Finally, finally . . . Two or three years ago I set up the Anglo Galician Association, for those speakers of English - of any nationality - with an interest in Galicia. For one reason and another, it didn't flourish. On the assumption it was ahead of its time, I'm having another stab at it. We have a meeting of the Rias Baixas Chapter of this on Saturday, followed by lunch. Anyone living near enough to Pontevedra to be interested in coming can contact me by clicking on the button top right. Or here.

Finally, finally, finally . . . I did write an earlier post today. Scroll down if you ain't seen it yet.


CafeMark said...

The one place in Spain you shouldn't worry about over-supply of housing, is Madrid. Your article quotes an old piece on Madrid "ghost towns" from 2010; for more recent trends there, read this - Is Madrid running low? - http://thisisspain.info/towns-and-cities/madrid/madrid-running-low/ In fact I remember the scare stories in 2009 about the new housing development in Soto de Henares. Perhaps you saw the youtube video. Yet if you look at their lively residents forum now, their main concern is getting the metro link established into Madrid http://www.nuevosvecinos.com/bsotohenares/foro Please don't believe American propaganda all the time. There is plenty of authentic bad news without using fabrication from across the Atlantic.

Colin said...

Agree. But there's Madrid and Madrid. The centre, the near-centre and, eventually, the new barrios of the outskirts. I fancy I could find some of the latter with very low occupancy rates. But maybe not.

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