Sunday, September 23, 2012

Cuestionable Chips; Regional Reductions; Galician Grotesque: Competitive Catch-up; Abysmal Approbations; Egregious Excuses; Permanent Parking; and the Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy from Company C.

I've got a couple of Chip and Pin cards issued by my bank here in Pontevedra. In theory, I should be using these as I do in the UK – just inserting the card, tapping in the PIN number and taking the card back. This, however, is not how things work here. After a short survey of ten outlets, I can say that:-
  1. 0% asked me to input the PIN number.
  2. In 90% of the cases I was asked for proof of identity. Only the toll booths on the autopistas didn't.
  3. The same 90% asked me to put my signature in a little box.
So, will Chip and Pin ever arrive here, precluding the ubiquitous practice of demanding proof of identity, however small the purchase, and then a signature? I do wonder.

Government Cost Savings
How about fusing some of the regions ('Autonomous Communities'). 
Asturias and Galicia? 
La Rioja with one of its neighbours? 
Cantabria with Castile y León?

Would you buy this (rather ugly) house for a million euros?

No? Quite right; no one here has in the more than five years it's been on sale. Presumably the vendors are the sort of stupid and stubborn Galicians who over-price their property and then refuse to reduce it when no offers come in. Just possibly it might have sold for 500k at the peak of the phoney property boom in 2007 but now it's just a “toxic asset”. Which may well be owned by a bank.

A couple of lists, reported in recent weeks (and just found in my notebook):-

The Index of Competitiveness
  1. Switzerland
  2. Singapore
  3. Finland
  4. Sweden
  5. Holland
  6. Germany
  7. USA
  8. UK
  9. Hong Kong
  10. Japan
   21. France

   29. China

   36. Spain. Same position as last year.

So, lots of room for improvement.

Approval Ratings for Spain's Institutions
Doctors – 93%
Scientists – 90%
State school teachers – 88%

Then we plummet right down to:-
Judges – 44%
Courts – 36%
The Constitutional Court – 29%
The Supreme Court – 27%
Parliament – 16%
Banks 11%
Political Parties - 9%

This is a sorry picture and it's interesting that political parties are even less well thought of than banks. But, then, we do have an endless diet of corruption stories in the media.

Which reminds me - The mayor of the small town near Ourense arrested last week for various offences has come come up with a novel defence - “Yes, I did receive moneys but they weren't for me. They were for someone else.” I wonder if this person (his wife?) will be serving his gaol sentence for him.

Finally . . . This is the van of an enterprising student attending the School of Fine Arts in town. 

During his first year, he parked it – for free - in the street and saved himself the cost of renting a room. And he's now done it again this year. Though rather closer to the entrance, saving himself 30 or 40 metres walk of a morning, midday and evening.


Anonymous said...


Undoubtedly massive room for improvement for Spain.

I am mistified as ever by the UK's high position, after all it's debt as % of GDP will according to some experts be larger than Greece's in 2013. "Undoubtedly" a consequence of underlying ucompetitiveness on a "massive" scale, more so because the UK has kept its own independent currency.

A few commentators in the UK ask themselves the question why is Britain in recession and Germany not, but few ask themnselves the question why is the UK in recession and France not.

I think we will soon see a U-turn in Osborne's policy, and consequently the pound and the ratings will slide, and also the UK's position in the competitiveness ranking - highlighting at the same time that these rankings are often just a lot of bollocks.


J. A. Roberts said...

Yup, the whole chip-and-pin thing is a mystery.

In the UK customer inserts the card, enters pin and the removes the card. No intervention by the sales assistant.

In Spain, you hand the card to the sales assistant, they insert the card, then swivel the reader aroud for you to enter the pin, then swivel the reader around back to them so that they can remove the card and hand it back to you.

Three steps vs three steps plus four other totally unnecessary steps. A great example of the Spanish love of complicating a simple task for no good reason.

Colin said...

Couldn't agree more. And, I was going to write, the creation of more paper than is necessary. Then I realised the paper is the same in both scenarios - one for them and one for you. But in the Spanish case, you've had to sign yours.

Bill said...

Although I don't use my chip-and-pin card in the supermarket here (in Murcia Region), as I tend to pay for all such shopping here in cash (I do the same at home in Scotland for anything under £20-), I often see customers in front of me using their cards; they do it just like in the UK - card goes in, they key in their PIN and when the transaction is completed they remove the card - no ID cards asked for or proffered. It's true that until one or two years ago people used to have to sign on one of those horrid LCD pads and show their passports or ID cards, but that seems to have been superseded in this area. I do generally use my chip and PIN card to get cash out of the wall, although occasionally if I need for than the €600- limit that the machines here permit, I'll go into the branch to get the money from the counter. I've never noticed, or had, any particular difficulty; it all seems to work pretty well.

Colin said...

Thanks, Bill. that gives me hope!

Colin said...


I thought France was in recession and this news item seems to confirm that.

Of course, it may be that the actual results were better than forecast by the Bank of France

Anonymous said...


Possibly. But Britain has been 'in recession' for much longer. And the Pound and the ratings have been maintained artificially high by Osborne's policies. My view is that Britain gets cozy credit from their chums in the mighty anglo financial community only because the top people speak fluent 'estuary' English. Can't last forever though.


Colin said...

By 'maintained artificially high by Osborne's policies' do you mean that, although wrong, they conform to the conventional wisdom?

Anonymous said...


If by conventional wisdom you mean the view point of the banks and the highfalutin financiers who want their money back no matter what, then yes is the answer.....

Anonymous said...


Anyway.....these days the euro and economy have curiously stopped being the number one concern. I see very dark clouds gathering over Spain. We might witness a real descend into chaos. The most dangerous beast in the cage is Spanish nationalism - which has kept quiet and subdued for the last 40 years. I fear it will soon rear it's ugly head. This is going to end badly for us all.


Colin said...

I try not to think about it.

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