Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Bankia; The economy; 2014 budget cuts; Backwards government; Rat runs; and Music.

Well, bang on cue, Spain's Bankía has reported its recent results. Formed by the fusion of  a host of smaller, under-performing entities, this bank had to be rescued via €18bn from the EU and managed to lose €2.6bn(yes, billion) in the 3rd quarter last year. However, by following the strategies outlined yesterday, it's managed to make a 'small' profit of €161m this time round. Its total loss for last year was €19.2bn. It's hard to say what it'll finally achieve this year as the P/L is distorted by an extraordinary profit of €979m on the sale of its share in the insurance company, Mapfre. But it's clearly doing better. Thanks to taxpayers and long-suffering customers.

Moving to the macro level - The mood music from both Madrid and Brussels continues to be that Spain has turned the corner and growth is imminent. Let's hope so but, so far, there's little real evidence of this. Especially if you're unemployed and your 2 years of benefit have run out.

Times have, of course, been austere for a while now and cuts have been made in various government services. But it was surprising - shocking even - to read that the biggest cuts to 2014 expenditure will be in healthcare, at 36%. This compares with just a 5% cut in total government expenditure. The Ministry of Industry, on the other hand, will see expenditure increase by 32%. I guess it makes sense to someone.

The ruling PP party, like all modern parties, is a broad church. Being right-of-centre in Spain, this means it must accommodate not only the Catholic Church but also the uber-Catholic organisation Opus Dei. And so it is that some of the reforms of the last PSOE 'socialist' government are being rolled back, most obviously in the highly emotional area of abortion. It was always inevitable that the Church would seek to (re)strengthen its hold on education and to see Religion given what it sees as its rightful place in the curriculum. And so it is that the government has, firstly, abolished the ('atheistic/communist') subject of Citizenship and Human rights from school syllabuses and, secondly, has restored Religion to full academic status. Having said that the PP party is a broad church, one does wonder whether, in fact it has any members who are centrist. Or even just-right-of-centrist. If so, they appear to be voice-less.

I've mentioned that we have major roadworks on our side of the river and that the town planners are trying to divert traffic over a new bridge and away from them. The day before they started a spokesman said the works were scheduled for 2 months but admitted there'd be problems. Sure enough, Day 1 was pretty chaotic because - in this rainy part of Green Spain - no one thought that leaving the painting of signs until the last moment would risk not having them ready in time. The second problem was even bigger; during Days 1 and 2 there were plenty of police from different forces on hand to stop drivers using an objective-busting rat run up through my barrio. But they gave up on Day 3 and now this is the equivalent of an autopista. And the new bridge remains as unused as ever. Which is fine by me, as it's my own personal rat run. The best laid schemes of mice and men . . .

This is a must-see video of someone's worst nightmare. As Maria João Pires prepares to play a Mozart piano concerto with the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, she hears the orchestra start playing a different concerto. She panics a little but then, encouraged by a conductor who can hardly stop the music and let her get off, she calls on her phenomenal memory and ability to play the concerto she was totally unprepared for. What a work of art is (wo)man.

Talking about music . . . This is someone's idea of the best violin concerto. I googled this because my impression was that most, if not all, violin concertos were in a minor key. It turns out that 70% of these are. But the first 3 positions are taken by works in a major key. Actually all in D major. Does anyone know why the minor keys predominate?
1. Beethoven Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61
2. Brahms Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77
3. Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35
4. Saint Saëns Violin Concerto No. 3 in B minor, Op. 61
5. Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in B minor, Op. 64
6. Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 26
7. Wieniawski Violin Concerto No. 1 in F# minor, Op. 14
8. Sibelius Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op. 47
9. Dvorak Violin Concerto in A Minor, Op. 53
10. Wieniawski Violin Concerto No. 2 in D minor, Op. 22


Perry said...


Curious that you should mention the subject of piano & violin concertos.

The Tommy gun was a favourite weapon of gangsters who carried the "Chicago Piano" in violin cases. Weapons of that ilk were made to play a merry tune, wielded by Afghani murderers in the name of Islam.


Be thankful that Opus Dei don't imitate the Taliban in doing the work of their god.

Azra said...

Mozart is the name of a chain-store selling Gelato here in SA (well it was, most of them went bankrupt). My mind is still on food, dear Colin :)

Colin Davies said...

And on a holiday, I see. Final decision?

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