Monday, October 31, 2016

Pontevedra Pensées: 31.10.16

SPANISH LIFE/CULTURE

Halloween Celebrations: Here's 10 ideas from El País. I might well try the Vigo one with my visitors this afternoon/evening.

The Clock: No sooner do I mention this than the New York Times offers an article on the subject. Click here for this.

La Leche. The Milk: Spain's language - if not Spanish as it's spoken elsewhere - is renowned for its everyday coarseness. Strangely, milk features a lot in this. Here's a useful guide from El Pais on the various usages.

SPANISH POLITICS

Corruption: Talking of his address to parliament last week during the investiture debate, one commentator noted that President Rajoy had 'tiptoed over' the crucial issue of corruption. I guess this is hardly surprising, given the accusations against him personally.

Austerity: The EU is demanding a further €5.5billion of public expenditure savings, in order to get the deficit down to the totemic level of 3.5% of GDP. Not everyone is happy about this, of course, as this article shows. Then there's the entire Opposition, whose seats outnumber those of the incoming PP administration. Interesting times. Incidentally, the article cites a number of 'up to 100,000 protestors', against 6,000 according to the police. And a mere 3,000 in another article I read. So, treat it like you do your promised wifi capability.

THE SPANISH ECONOMY

Macro v Micro: While the topline performance is impressive - set against the EU's low average growth rate - down at the coalface unemployment levels are horrific and I continue to hear stories of salaries as low as €15,000 a year being offered for jobs which require high qualifications and experience. As I've said before, when I came here, there was a lot of attention paid to fact that qualified people were only receiving €1,000 a month. The so-called mileuristas. Sixteen years - and much inflation later - there still is. This is the reality of Spain in 2016. And one wonders where all the increased GDP has gone and is going. And what will happen if the large and rapidly growing tourism sector is hit by a terrorist attack.

THE EU 

The Italian Banks: Don Quijones has reviewed these again. His view of the measures being taken to steady things? . . .  Put simply, Atlante I and II are the financial equivalent of bringing a butter knife to a gun fight. And his conclusion: Despite pressure from fiscally hawkish Eurozone countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, and Finland to put an end to the doom loop by removing the risk-free status of certain sovereign bonds, to the barely concealed horror of Italian and Spanish politicians and bankers, recent figures from Standard & Poor’s show that banks across the EU have continued to invest heavily in government debt, increasing their exposure to €791 billion. The total amount that international banks have lent to Italy is €550 billion, of which over €250 billion is sitting on the balance sheets of French banks. And that is why a nervous breakdown in Italy’s banking system could have very serious consequences for the rest of Europe, if not for the world at large. It’s also the reason why, when push comes to shove, European authorities, with the ECB leading the way, will do whatever it takes to stop Italy’s banks from falling. But as the scope and scale of Italy’s problems continue to mushroom and confidence in the system continues to shrink, time is fast running out. Click here for the whole article.

THE UK

This shares with Spain the honour of having the greatest cocaine consumption in the EU. Presumably per capita. Much, if not most, of this arrives via our coastline, of course.

GALICIAN STUFF

The AVE high-speed train to Madrid. On a whim, I checked earlier comments of mine on this and saw that:-
  • In 2006, I noted that Galicia's Xunta had told us we'd have an AVE down into Portugal by 2013. We didn't and don't. And the plan was abandoned several years ago.
  • In 2009, I noted that we pessimists didn't expect the AVE to Madrid to be operating before 2014, despite government assurances that it was imminent. It wasn't. And still isn't. 
  • In 2010, I predicted it would be at least another 5 years before the AVE to Madrid was operating and went as far as to predict it wouldn't, in fact, arrive before 2018. It hasn't so far. And no one believes it'll happen by 2018. Essentially because that's the government's latest promise. And everyone knows there are problems taking the line through the mountains.
So, it's hardly surprising that no one takes any notice here of official forecasts. Of anything. Meanwhile, it still takes 7-8 hours to get to Madrid by train. But at least this is better than the 12 hours of not so long ago. It's about 625km, or 390 miles.

Bank Branches: There were1,000 of these in Galicia in 1973 and 2,500 by 1998. This despite a static or even reducing population. During the phoney boom of 2000-2007, they proliferated further but have since been reduced to 1,550. And will surely fall further. If only because Banco Pastor/Popular is in serious trouble and has announced redundancies and closures.

FINALLY

DIY: I'm not fond of this. My latest incursion into the field has been to apply silicon gel to the holes between the cat flap and the door it's in. In the process, I managed to get some gel on my shoes and then onto various floor tiles. Where there now appears to be a permanent slippy surface. With neck-breaking potential. So, if this blog suddenly stops . . . 

THE CORRUPTION CAVALCADE

Another new one . . . 

The case
    The Accused
   Positions
 Allegations and Status

The Elcano Case

Spain's official training ship for her navy - The Juan Sebastián Elcano

Members of the crew
Various
Smuggling drugs.


THE GALLERY

Another cartoon:

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