Monday, February 11, 2019

Thoughts from Galicia, Spain: 11.2.19

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
            Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain
  • There's been a major hike in the national minmum wage here and it's fair to say that opinion is divided on what the consequences will be, with forecasts of job losses ranging from 40,000 to 125,000. See here.
  • Would you believe . . . . Spain 's right wing parties - the PP and Ciudadanos -  say the Prime Minister's plan to appoint an intermediary for talks with Catalan separatists amounts to 'treason'. Well, they are losing votes to the far-right Vox Party. So are desperate.
  • Here's a very right-wing - and contentious - US take on the current state of Spanish politics, interesting for its equivalence between the fascists of Vox and the Trumpists.
  • So, Ryanair and the Vigo council have fallen out and the airline has picked up its bat and left the field  - to the detriment of travellers who used the city's airport for its national and (few) international flights. Including those to Dublin and London. Oporto, of course, will be a major beneficiary of this failure. Can there be a single politician in Galicia who doesn't know that having 3 small, uncompetitive 'international' airports is stupid? And is there one local politician who'll have the courage to come out and say they need to be amalgamated, in Santiago most obviously? The answer must be No in both cases.
  • Here in Pontevedra, the camino is marked in parts of the city by brass scallop shells embedded in the pavement. Hard to believe but the council has had to replace some of these after they’d been stolen. Surely not as souvenirs by 'pilgrims'.
  • I read this morning that 10% of the UK's high street shops stand empty. Well, in the little Pontevedra street I walk up to my regular bar the number is 25%. I'm not sure this is generally true of the entire retail scene but I can say that the only outlets here which seem to stay in business - indeed increase in number - are the jewellery stores. As I've said, we seem to have a disproportionate number of these and my suspicion is that some/many of them are fronts for laundering the proceeds of our huge drug smuggling business.
  • Which reminds me . . . One shop I passed in the centre on Saturday is now in at least its 3rd manifestation. Last time I passed it, it was a glossy place for laser depilation and fat reduction. Now it's another phone company store.
  • I've mentioned the encroachment of wild boars into Spanish cities. Up in Álava, the council has licensed archers to cull their local pests. Sitting in trees to do so. The archers, not the council . .  
  • My old sparring partner -Alfie Mittington - must have dusted down an old map - I'm sure he's not aware of the existence of Apple or Google Maps - and has realised that Caminha is on one side of the estuary of the Miño/Minho and La Guarda on the other. How, he asks, do the camiño/caminho pilgrims get between the 2, if they can't walk on water. Well, I'm not totally sure but I suspect they might just get the ferry that ploughs between them very regularly.
The EU
  • The best comeback to Tusk's “special place in hell" comment was from Yanis Varoufakis, the former Greek minister: It probably looks very similar to that reserved for those who designed a monetary union without a proper banking union and, once the banking crisis hit, cynically transferred the bankers’ gigantic losses onto the shoulders of the weakest taxpayers.
  • The economy: It's really beginning to look like the eurozone is on the brink of another crisis, as growth stalls for the 3rd time in 10 years. Last week, the Commission warned growth will slow to 1.3% this year, down from 1.9% in 2018. This is a very abrupt downgrade – and there could be more to come. . . . The other worrying feature about the eurozone economy is the extraordinarily uneven spread of growth across the region. From the 60s onward, living standards within nations that went on to establish the single currency were broadly converging. Yet, since the euro was formed in 1999, a gap has re-emerged.  Average per capita incomes among “southern” eurozone members are now just 75% of their “northern” counterparts, down from almost 90% in the early 2000s – reflecting how the uniform exchange rate has boosted competitive nations, while hammering others. That’s why youth unemployment is over 30% in Spain and Italy and almost 40% in Greece but just 5% in Germany. . . . There is one fundamental truth - The eurozone is an unsustainable construct – just one bad election, one geopolitical event, one sovereign downgrade, one eurozone bond crisis away from a “hell” of its own. 
  • Italy and France: Here's a very positive take on the latest - severe - spat between these founding members - The real winner of this dispute is Europe. Hmm.
The UK
  • There was a report in a local paper about a couple making love in a public place. Interestingly, in Spanish, they weren't just making love but 'sustaining/maintaining' it.
  • Odd Old Word: Fleshquake. A tremor of the body. Shame we lost this one.
Finally . . .
  • There used to be something in England called The Ugly Club. Imagine being turned down for membership of that . . .
  • I managed to solve my Apple-updates problem by deleting the 2 relevant apps - both from Apple and pre-installed on my new laptop - and then re-installing them. All because I had to change my Apple ID, it seems. And what a calvario that was!


Sierra said...

"It's really beginning to look like the eurozone is on the brink of another crisis..." - and how would you describe the situation in pre-Brexit UK, where it fell to 0.2% in the 4th qtr. 2018?

Maria said...

American Thinker seems to get its information on Spain solely from OKDiario. I won't say what I really think of that article and its brainless writer.