Thursday, March 05, 2015

Wines; End of the Crisis?; Spain's economy; EU subventions; & Brits

Reflecting in large part sales of bulk wine to France(!), Spain has overtaken both France and Italy to become the world's largest exporter of this fine grape drink. Galicia is doing its own bit, via much increased exports of its premium Albariño wine.

But Albariño is not the only fine wine produced here in Galicia. Here's a blog post which tells you something about othersI've cited over the years. These days you can get both Godello and Mencia in the UK but I'm not sure about the others. Of course, thanks to taxes, the British prices are ridiculous. Which means that those selling at, say 5-6 quid a bottle, are usually rubbish. But not as bad as the stuff served in pubs at 3-5 quid a glass.

Would you believe it? The EU President has remonstrated with Spain's President for claiming that the recession is over and for trying to whip up the feel-good factor ahead of elections later this year. Given 25% unemployment - not to mention the 80% of the people who think the economy is still bad to very bad - Mr Junker doesn't think Mr Rajoy should be telling us La Crisis is over. In fact, he says, it won't be over until unemployment hits 'normal levels'. Which could be a long, long way off. Particularly for young people.

One of the reasons why Spaniards remain worried about the future is that Spain ranks alongside Bulgaria and Greece as having very poor protection for people who default on their mortgages. And, like me, they can see shops, cafés and restaurants still closing around them,

One commentator has suggested that the root cause of high unemployment both here in Spain and in Greece is a domestic economy infamous for its crony capitalism, its protectionism, its corruption and its monopolistic nature, where international companies are less to be seen than elsewhere. In contrast, he says, the export sector is efficient, dynamic and successful. Because it has to be, I guess. Seems about right to me.

Which reminds me of a headline I saw recently: The Training Course Money went on Bribes, Cocaine and Whores. This related to EU subventions, of course. Generally seen as easy money here. Especially to "thieves in white gloves", a group cited to me when I first came here, though it took me a while to find out who they were.

Finally . . . The Spanish chap (Alberto Letona) who wrote the book critical of (aspects of Britain) has insisted he loves us Brits for our excessive politeness but, against that, he condemns us (as most nations do) for our hypocrisy. "In Britain you never really know what anyone is thinking. They're always polite even if they can’t stand you and pretend to be very friendly. But in Spain we are more direct, more sincere. But also more brutal with the truth. And that is not always a good thing." Ain't that the truth. Hence a language with a million insults. Most of them extremely rude. To non-Spaniards.

By the way . . . After 14 years here, I've lost my excessive politeness. And my mother drives me mad with hers.

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