A very Spanish morning yesterday:
- I received 2 registered letters. In each case, I had to cite my ID number and sign twice. Once on the postman's PDA and then again on a piece of paper.
- One was from the council saying there weren't enough bits of paper attached to my appeal against my car being impounded. Naturally.
- The other was from the Tax Office, ignoring all the points of my appeal against a fine for delayed payment and simply saying, over more than 2 pages, that my payment had been 3 days late and they'd applied the law. And that was that. But I can appeal against this, of course.
- I called my bank, to ask my contact why she hadn't replied to an email of 2 days ago, closing my account. When I asked for her, I was told she didn't exist and that, despite calling a local number, I was talking to the central office. I was then asked for details about myself and the branch so I could be transferred to her. This done, I spoke to someone who claimed he'd never heard of my contact either and that I wasn't, in fact, speaking to the branch in Pontevedra. At which point, I slammed down the phone and resolved to go to the branch for face-to-face discussion. Which I did. But the lady wasn't there. So I left a copy of my email with a colleague. If I hadn't already decided to close my account, I certainly would have done so by midday yesterday.
Happily, things got better from midday onwards.
I see there's a new acronym on the streets - TBTF. Too big to fail. Applied, of course, to banks. The one in the news today is Italy's biggest - Monte dei Paschi - which is about to be rescued by the state. I seem to recall Don Quijones predicted failure wouldn't be allowed to happen and that a way would be found around EU laws to permit a government rescue. By which is meant, of course, an influx of taxpayers' money. And so it has come to pass. The losers? Small time investors. The winners? Everyone else. Except the taxpayers, of course. Whether Italy is out of the woods remains a burning question, says our other favourite commentator, Ambrose Evans Pritchard. Btw . . . Another useful acronym is GSIB - Global Systemically Important Bank.
And a new word in the financial community is bailinable. This is described here by DQ, who terms it a beautiful name for a great scheme to bamboozle bondholders. Not before time, he says, some bondholders may finally have to begin paying the price of risk. As opposed to passing this on to taxpayers. A bailinable investment seems to be a debt the bank owes you which can be unilaterally converted into equity or even forfeited when the bank's day to day problems become really serious. But I might be wrong on this. I assume you're offered a greater rate of interest on these instruments but, again, I could be wrong. Just about anything is possible in today's financial 'community'.
In the New York Times recently, the poet Federico García Lorca is reported to have said that In Spain, the dead are more alive than the dead of any other country in the world. This, of course, is a reference to the fact that the law tries to ensure that we don't talk about what happened here between 1936 and 1976. So, no attempts at reconciliation, let alone 'justice'. One wonders how long this can continue before the floodgates open. Meanwhile, an organisation comprised of Francophiles has offered cash and advice to more than 300 municipalities to help them get round laws instructing the removal of items honouring the dictator or his ruthless generals. It's a free world. Personally, I'd section the cretins.
Broadband in the UK falls rather short of excellent but the government says it'll soon improve. Hence this nice cartoon from the Daily Telegraph:-
Here's a couple of lists from The Local:-
- Spanish words that English could well do with. Debatable.
- Ways to enjoy winter in Spain. Described as 'brilliant'. Also debatable.
And here's a useful list of all the world's airport passwords, from El País.
And, finally, here's a very funny video. It's in Spanish but understanding the dialogue is not essential for enjoyment.
The daily cartoon . . .