Business over Tapas

A digest of this week’s Spanish financial, political and social news aimed primarily at Foreign Property Owners: 

Prepared by Lenox Napier.  Consultant: José Antonio Sierra

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July 25 2019            Nº 312

Editorial: 

As expected, acting president Pedro Sánchez lost the first round of investiture vote on Tuesday (124 yes, 170 no and 52 abstentions), and a second vote will be held on Thursday where a simple majority would be enough (ie more “yes” than “no” votes). ‘With the support of Podemos’s 42 MPs and a few others from small regional parties, Sánchez could get through on Thursday, but given the anger of these potential allies, that support looks uncertain’ says The Guardian here. If not, then fresh elections will probably be called for November.

Most of the attention is on whether Pablo Iglesias will ask his party members to support the PSOE, without – apparently – his party being too much of a tartar in a future government. So far (Wednesday) Unidas Podemos is not all that happy with the offer from the PSOE, saying, ‘we asked for the guest-room, and they offered us the dog-kennel’. 

While we should at least know where we stand soon enough here in Spain, in the UK the politics remain complicated. Boris Johnson has become the new Prime Minister, thanks to the vote of Conservative party members, and now has the job of taking the UK (or perhaps just some of it, since Scotland appears loath to leave) out of the EU. Can he succeed, or will the army be called to take over? (‘No ifs, no buts, out on October 31st’, he says). The media doesn’t seem convinced by his leadership: from The Huff Post here: ‘the Clown Prince of British Politics’. The Guardian says ‘…Elected by a staggering 0.2% of the nation, we can’t say it isn’t the will of the people…’. A more enthusiastic (if eccentric) approach to Britain’s new leader can be found at Guido Fawkes here. In Spain, the conservative ABC said on Tuesday ‘In his victory speech at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in London, Johnson thanked his rival Jeremy Hunt and his future predecessor Theresa May for their dedication, and promised once again to leave the European Union on October 31, as he has insisted during the election process, and to take advantage of «all the opportunities it will bring with a new spirit of self-confidence.»…’. For those still in doubt, witness the headline from The Times: ‘Boris Johnson is the British version of me, says President Trump’ (Cue Facebook memes!).

And all we ever wanted was a benevolent and slightly enfeebled government to allow us to carry on the way we were accustomed to, without major upsets, rows, squabbles or uncertainties. 

Meanwhile, it’s been hot – around five degrees over the normal for this time of the year. 

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Housing:

From Spanish Property Insight here: ‘The number of Spanish homes acquired by foreign buyers declined in the first quarter compared to the same period last year – the first annualised decline in any quarter since foreign demand started to recover back in 2010, four years before local demand began to recover. The number of property sales deeds registered in the Spanish land register by a foreign buyer in the first quarter of this year numbered 16,331, according to the latest report by Spain’s Association of Land Registrars. That compares to 16,833 a year before, a decline of 3%. The biggest number of buyers came from the UK (2,249), followed by France (1,232) and Germany (1,124)…’. 

In more general terms, from El Economista, we read that ‘Agencies warn of a change in the buying and selling of properties, with a general fall of 12%’. The rise in prices and the new mortgage rules are thought to be the main causes in the fall of house-sales. 

‘Only one in four municipalities has adapted to the Urban Planning Law of Andalucía’ says La Comarca here. ‘…On Tuesday, the Minister for Development, Infrastructure and Territorial Planning, Marifrán Carazo, informed the Council of Ministers about the state of urban planning in Andalucía as a result of complex rules, excessive processing times and an invasion of local competencies in taking decisions. The report, presented by the Minister, put on record that three out of every four towns in Andalucía have yet to adapt their town plans to the current planning laws (LOUA) which came into force 16 years ago, in 2003. Specifically, 607 towns out of a total of 786 (77%) are not totally adapted to the LOUA…’. (AUAN translation and reaction here).

Why rent a bed, a sofa or the back of a van in Formentera when you can rent a bubble? At an elevated 280€ per night, no privacy, bathroom or fridge, but a splendid view inside and out, business is apparently slow. It’s illegal too, but to hell with the niceties. El Mundo has the story here. 

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Tourism:

El Blog Salmón lists the reasons that the ‘fall in tourist numbers in Spain is no bad thing’. It makes the important point that it’s the money and not the numbers which should determine Spanish tourist policy. 

Hosteltur says that the ABTA British travel agencies association has once again found Spain to be the leading choice for family holidays. 

Since no stone is left unturned to attract niche-tourism (come and see our geode), now we are introduced to ‘…tanatoturismo, also called necroturismo: black, dark and tragedy tourism…’ says El Confidencial Digital. The Civil War ruins of Belchite in Aragón is a good place to start 

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Seniors:

From El País in English here: ‘The Tinder-style app that reveals how flat-sharing is no longer just for millennials. Whether it’s to supplement their pensions, combat the effect of rising rents or simply for an adventure, seniors are opting to seek roommates, according to data from the Badi service’. Badi (here) says ‘List your room and find your ideal flatmate according to your age, tastes and hobbies · No Intermediaries · No fees · Publish your room for free’.  

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Finance:

‘David, a young man from Soria, has won a battle with Hacienda after not declaring on time money he holds abroad. He had presented his declaration of assets abroad known as the Modelo 720, but past the legal deadline, so Hacienda demanded a penalty of 53,000 euros. El Independiente carries the story here. 

The Valencia town hall will raise the IBI on owners of more than 10 empty apartments says 20 Minutos here.

Spaniards may find working in the UK to be a bit tighter than before, but El Confidencial reports here that those ‘…who have returned home from the UK now want to leave again: «Work here is rubbish», they say. For every Spaniard who returned to Spain from the United Kingdom last year, three made the reverse route. The “generation of the crisis” returns home to find things are worse than expected’. An interesting article which shows how many young Spaniards would rather live in the UK and offers this statistic: ‘…Since 2014, as indicated by data from Eurostat, the average annual salary of the United Kingdom exceeds 20,500 euros. In Spain, however, the most recent figure – updated to 2018 – remains at the crisis levels: if in 2009 it was 14,795 euros, in 2018 it stood at 14,785. In other words: while the salary in the United Kingdom has grown in these last nine years by 30%, in Spain, far from increasing, it has collapsed by 4%…’. 

From The Corner here: ‘Chinese investment in Spain has reduced drastically in the first of half of 2019, falling to a modest $10 million. Comparing these figures with the first half of 2018 – when Chinese companies invested $1,100 million in our country – the influence that the capital controls established by the Beijing government have had, combined with macroeconomic global tensions and the progressive increase in political and regulatory controls in recipient countries, can be appreciated…’. 

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Politics:

Whether it’s wishful thinking or sound analysis, El Mundo says that: ‘The centre-right, with more options to grow if the elections are repeated. The PSOE, who managed to monopolize a third of the vote mobilized last April, would be the one who would have to lose the most in a back-to-the-polls scenario’.  Conversely in VozPópuli comes ‘Pablo Casado fears that the PSOE will win big if there is a general election in November. The Popular Party does not believe however that there will be fresh elections, and neither does the party want them.’ 

The right-wing alliance in the Junta de Andalucía is trembling. From El Mundo: ‘The nine resignations of senior officials in just six months (here) has become the weak flank of the regional government of the PP and Ciudadanos. The opposition on Tuesday attacked the Executive presided over by Juanma Moreno (PP), demanding «urgent explanations» in what the PSOE considers a «real crisis» of government. More on this here. 

A massive (and simmering) scandal involving the Rey Emeritus, the retired King of Spain, is discussed in El Español here, which looks at Juan Carlos and his erstwhile companion Corina Zu Sayn-Wittgenstein over an alleged 80 million euro commission received for the Mecca AVE in 2011 washed, says the article, through Gibraltar. ‘A tsunami waiting to happen’ it says. El Boletín reports here that the Supreme Court has squashed the indictment. 

Silvia Barquero, the president of Pacma, the animalist-party, has stood down – in favour of her husband, Luis Víctor Moreno, says Revista Jara y Sedal here. 

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Catalonia:

The Catalonian health ministry Salut has ruled that there will be no smoking at outside public terraces and at bus-stops from next year. 

Big Business always has the last word (as Podemos discovered in 2015). El Confidencial here says ‘Eight Ibex 35 companies funded a campaign against the independence ‘procés‘ at the request of the Government of Rajoy in October 2017. The presidents of the eight Ibex 35 companies have been personally and economically involved in stifling the independence of Catalonia promoted by Carles Puigdemont’. 

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Corruption:

‘The «Falciani list» and the Botín family: the double standard of Finance and Justice. The Constitutional Court has ratified the three-year prison sentence to a taxpayer who hid five million euros in the HSBC of Switzerland while the Botín family, having hidden 2,000 million euros, has been released from the threat of prison’. From Diario 16 here. We are reminded that the whistleblower Hervé Falciani (Wiki) provided the French justice with a long list of 130,000 suspected tax evaders with Swiss bank accounts – specifically those with accounts in HSBC‘s Swiss subsidiary HSBC Private Bank in 2008. Spaniards involved in the scandal, says El Confidencial in 2016, had between them 1,800 million euros hidden from Hacienda. Cambio 16 ends its article with this question: ‘¿Somos los españoles iguales ante la ley como dice el artículo 14 de la Constitución española?’. Are all Spaniards treated equally under the law?

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Brexit: 

‘Hundreds of thousands of Brits living in Spain could sue the UK in the event of a no-deal Brexit, a leading Conservative MP has claimed.  In a warning, the Tory MP for South Leicestershire, Alberto Costa, said the next prime minister faces ‘an enormous unprecedented amount of legal action’ if the rights of EU citizens residing in Britain are not protected within legislation before October 31…’. From The Olive Press here. 

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Ecology: 

‘The swift population in Spain has declined by 20% in the last 20 years, partly due to the increase in feral cats’, says Europa Press here. While swifts eat mosquitoes and other pests, feral cats are not as ecological in their dining habits. A study in Canada shows that domestic and feral cats kill an estimated hundred million birds a year. 

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Various:

The largest immigrant groups by province, from Map Porn here. 

From Time here: ‘Pamplona’s Bull Runs Have a Controversial Past. Do They Still Have a Future?’. The article ends with ‘…The runs themselves seem safe for now. Pamplona’s mayor has said he “can’t imagine” the festival without bulls, and, though he is open to phasing out bullfights, these are protected under the Spanish Constitution as part of cultural heritage. Courts, including the Supreme Court, have overturned attempts to ban lethal ones in the regions of Catalonia and the Balearic Islands. But the debates are unlikely to go anywhere. Hemingway recognized Pamplona’s pull as problematic back in 1925. “If a guy looks at it for a moral standpoint there isn’t any excuses,” he wrote about bullfights in a letter to a friend. “But if a guy takes it as it comes. Geez, what a hell of a wonderful show.” 

‘In 1964, aged 18, Stuart Christie travelled to Spain with a kilo of explosives to help assist plotters who wished to dispose of Spain’s dictator Francisco Franco’. The story here. 

From Eye on Spain here. ‘Does anyone sleep on Andalusian summer nights?’

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See Spain:

Discover Southern Europe brings us the top Spanish national parks here. ‘As one of the largest countries in Europe, Spain’s landscape is so varied that travelling from the snow-tipped mountains of the Sierra Nevada to the wild sandy beaches of Galicia’s Islas Atlánticas, you could almost be forgiven for thinking you’d arrived in another country. Add the volcanic scenery of the Canary Islands into the mix and the landscapes become more varied still. Throughout Spain and its islands there are spectacular national parks – perfect for walking, bird-watching, mountain biking and even skiing…’.

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Finally:

Chick Corea played last night in the Almería bullring. With him was his new group, the Spanish Heart Band.  Here on YouTube he plays Spain with Jorge Pardo and others. 

 

Enviado por José Antonio Sierra