A digest of this week’s Spanish financial, political and social news aimed primarily at Foreign Property Owners:
With Lenox Napier and Andrew Brociner. Consultant: José Antonio Sierra
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November 8 2018 Nº 277
The first call to ban Nolotil, a pain-reliever popular in Spain, came from The Olive Press which launched a campaign against the popular drug back in August last year. The pills were held responsible for a number of deaths – oddly, all British visitors to Spain. The item reads in part ‘…the drug seems to mostly affect people of fair skin, from the likes of the UK and Scandinavia, by poisoning their bone marrow and destroying their white blood cells…’. Could this be the case, a drug which could adversely affect fair-skinned people, yet be found to be most efficacious to those of a darker complexion?
It would appear so. Metamizol, the active ingredient in Nolotil, is banned in the UK, the USA and Australia according to the specialist site Soitu here.
Despite a petition at Change.org (which appears to have died – as they do), the Spanish health authority had until now ignored the situation, but this has now changed. El Español reports here that Nolotil and its imitators (Metamizol Aristo is one of them) is to be restricted in its sale at the pharmacies from northern visitors – essentially, Brits won’t be able to buy it any more. The drug can bring on a blood condition called neutropenia, says the article, but it has only been found (apparently) in ‘Anglo-Saxons’. The subject is of course close to fair-skinned northerners: The Times of London reports this week that ‘Tourists will be banned from taking a popular painkiller in Spain after the deaths of 10 Britons who had taken the drug’. Thus the Spanish pharmaceutical association AEMPS has asked doctors not to prescribe the drug to ‘the floating population, where controls can’t be made’. That’s to say – not to be sold to tourists.
Some places cost a lot of scratch. Here, for example, in the Canalejas complex in the Puerto del Hiero in northern part of the capital city of Madrid. The luxurious apartment featured in the El País article cost 10 million euros.
On the other end of the scale, La Información investigates what is always listed as Spain’s poorest municipality, Zahínos in Badajoz. The small town looks nice enough in the photo, and we are told that ‘you can buy a mansion there for 30,000€’.
From PrimeResi here: ‘Savills partners up with Lucas Fox in Spain. The global property firm follows up on its acquisition of Aguirre Newman by forming a new strategic alliance with top-end Spanish property consultancy Lucas Fox’.
From The Daily Mail here: ‘Would you buy a Spanish new build home? How developers are trying to put past problems to rest and tempt British buyers again’.
From The Independent here: ‘Spain’s tourism minister has met with UK tour operators to discuss contingency plans to ensure millions of British tourists can still visit her country in the event of a no-deal Brexit…’.
Ryanair always seems to be in the news. Clever marketing? We have El País with ‘If you travel with Ryanair, from now on you have to pay for the hand luggage’ and ElDiario.es with ‘Ryanair fails to comply with Spanish regulations that prohibit charging for hand luggage’. The company has its own video here: ‘Ryanair’s new bag policy, now in effect, explained’. Lenox flew with them once and says they charge for absolutely everything.
As we have seen, the granting of Spanish nationality has been laying somewhere between slow and dead for the past couple of years. A change is due. From El Confidencial we read: ‘The Government now plans to grant nationality to more than 300,000 people’. It says. ‘The Minister of Justice Dolores Delgado wants to put an end to the existing bottleneck in the management of nationality applications, as there are currently 360,000 unresolved cases’.
Sanchez says he will govern without a 2019 budget if need be. The proposal that – either the nationalists would accept the Government’s minimum concessions to Catalonia, or else there would be early elections in which they might lose what they have achieved – has not worked. ERC and PDeCAT will not support Pedro Sánchez’s budgets but the Minister of Development José Luis Ábalos is now suggesting the possibility of continuing until 2020 even without them. The story at El Español here.
Stricter inspections from Hacienda. From Público here: ‘A better control over big business boosts VAT revenue by 3,300 million euros. The new system that obliges 60,000 companies to declare purchases and sales in less than four days provokes an «extraordinary growth» in the revenue of the Tax Agency’.
‘Spain falls two places in the ranking of countries where it is easier to do business. Spain is now ranked 30th in a World Bank classification (Doing Business pdf here) led by New Zealand, Singapore and Denmark’. Headline from El País here.
‘Some British and U.S. funds capitalize on the bets that the shares of some Spanish companies will fall’. ElDiario.es says that little-known outfits like AQR Capital, Marshall Wace and Lansdowne are selling around seventy Spanish companies short to the tune of 5,600 million euros.
‘María Dolores de Cospedal resigns from the PP executive due to the Villarejo recordings, but remains as a party deputy. The party leadership won’t ask her to resign, saying, «It’s a personal decision.»’. El País reports here. On Wednesday afternoon, Cospedal quit her position as a parliamentary deputy ‘to save the party from any attack’.
With the fall of María Dolores de Cospedal, here are ten unanswered questions for the Partido Popular.
Slightly surprisingly (perhaps), the PSOE-A is set to beat the combined votes of the PP and Ciudadanos in the Andalusian elections, says a poll at ElDiario.es here. With 36.7% of the vote, Susana Díaz will need Adelante Andalucía at 19.3% (Podemos by another name) to govern.
Maldita Bulo is the place to knock down fake news. Here scotching an OKDiario item about The Minister of Health falsely claiming for expenses.
The Partido Popular is still running scared of the advances scored by the Ahora Madrid party with its fusty-looking mayoress Manuela Carmena. ElDiario.es revealed on Wednesday that the PP is attempting through the courts to stop civil investments in schools and other infrastructure to the tune of 86,500,000€. The money comes from the City’s financial surplus.
Remarkably, the PP and Ciudadanos have thrown up so many amendments and points of order over the derogation of the ‘Sun Tax’ (which frees up alternate energies to private use), that the final signing has been postponed twice (the next reading is scheduled for Tuesday 13th November).
Andorra, that tiny state which is absolutely nothing whatsoever like Gibraltar, actually does have one thing in common. Like Gibraltar, abortion is banned there. Indeed, the tiny state, co-ruled by the President of France and the Bishop of Uriel, would lose one of its co-regents, if abortion were to be legalised. The Pope made this clear in a telephone call to the senior minister of Andorra Antoni Martí earlier this week. Info Vaticana has more here.
From El País in English: ‘Public prosecutors uphold rebellion charge against Catalan independence leaders. Prosecution seeks 25-year prison term against ex-deputy premier Oriol Junqueras, but Solicitor General rules out rebellion and seeks 12 years for sedition and misuse of funds’. The story here. From Politico.eu comes ‘Spain charges Catalan leaders
Eighteen lawmakers, civic leaders and members of the former regional government will appear before the Supreme Court’. (We think they should be sent into exile).
From ElNacional.cat comes ‘Global coverage of the harsh sentences demanded of the Catalan political prisoners’. Several examples and Tweets from major newspapers follow.
The stories about José Villarejo don’t stop coming. Here’s El País: ‘Villarejo paid 1,000 euros a month to track calls. A summary reveals the method used by the Commissioner to access confidential telephone data’. Meanwhile La Moncloa Digital has a report, featuring a recording of María Dolores de Cospedal’s husband saying to Villarejo, ‘Yes, the boss is in agreement’. Who could he have meant?
For a moment there, it looked like the banks had won. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court ratified its recent U-turn decision that the taxes on a mortgage must be paid by the client. La Ser has the story here. A lot of groups were indignant. From the consumers organisation OCU here to the Jueces por la Democracia here and Podemos here, everyone agreed with the editorial at ElDiario.es here: ‘After two weeks of legal uncertainty, the Supreme Court has ruled in favour of the banks and at the same time, buried its prestige’. El Español reckoned that the banks have saved some 25,000 million euros by the felicitous result. But all is not lost. On Wednesday, Pedro Sánchez announced that from Thursday, and following a Government order, the banks will henceforth pay the tax on mortgages (no doubt, while stiffing the client in increased charges, but that’s another story).
The Debt Situation
By Andrew Brociner
Looking at Spain’s debt, one can note that it is still around 100% of GDP, which is where it has been for the last five years.
There has been a slight reduction recently, but quite insignificant, and is still at 98%.
Spain, along with some other Eurozone countries, such as Italy, Greece, Portugal and Ireland, were in a recession for years and then adopted austerity measures, and their debt grew rapidly. Now that some years have passed, most of them have a debt situation which has remained at a high level.
The only exception is Ireland, which has made substantial progress in reducing its debt. As for the other countries, there is no reduction expected in the foreseeable future and remains as one of the consequences of those policies.
From Property Investor Today comes: ‘The number of British expats living in Spain has dropped by 40%, according to Spanish newspaper El País. What’s more, between 2012 and 2017, the number of Britons leaving Spain outstripped those who arrived. This exodus is being blamed on the uncertainty caused by Brexit, and worries over what will happen once the UK has officially left the European Union, as well as the price of sterling falling against the euro, which has made living overseas more expensive than ever…’.
El Mundo looks at the future of the printed media here.
From La Voz del Sur comes this telling point: ‘»There needs to be be a law to say that banks cannot own the media». Journalist Juan Tortosa has written a book in the form of memoirs in which he relates his 40 years of work and the connections between political and economic power and journalism’.
From ABS-CBN News comes ‘UK bids adios to Spanish nurses ‘betrayed’ by Brexit’.
Amusing: ‘Having taught English in Spain for almost 10 years now, I think I’m pretty well placed to compile a list of my own personal top 10 mistakes that native Spanish speakers make in English. I’ve ranked them from the least annoying (number 10) to the most annoying (number 1). If you hear a note of anger in my words, I would like to politely remind you that it’s been 10 years. I’ve been correcting these same mistakes for 10 bloody years…’. From Schwa English here.
The Brits drink and smoke too much, just like the Spanish, so why do our Spanish friends live longer? An article in The Times suggests the Spanish walk more, take a siesta, eat properly and enjoy more sex. El Plural says there are other reasons too: the Spanish have a better approach to work (not basing one’s life around it), there’s good weather, a good social life and good medical attention. On this last point, Bloomberg Analysis says the Spanish have the World’s third best public health system (contrast the UK at 35th ranking and the USA in 54th place). Also, (if you open the abovementioned article), they don’t wear silly suits.
From Eye on Spain comes ‘Built to mirror a similar structure in London which was installed just over 30 years earlier, Madrid’s Palacio de Cristal is a lovely architectural jewel that recalls an era when spaces were built simply to be beautiful’.
A wine map of Spain:
Enviado por José Antonio Sierra