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 19 2020            Nº 360

Editorial: 

From The Local (firewall) here, ‘Is it worth booking a beach holiday in Spain right now?’ And there’s the rub. A number of bars, beach-bars and clubs have been closed down in tourist ‘hotspots’ while the beaches themselves – in some cases – have been given limited access due to the coronavirus fears, or even closed down entirely due to the pressing crowds.  The Spanish authorities don’t want an escalation – or the bad press associated with infections either from or to the tourists. 

The trippers, who won’t find the same laisser-faire in 2020 Spain as they found in other years, may consider it too much of a hassle and decide to keep away, preferring instead to visit their own beaches and spas with a ‘staycation’. 

At least if the infections were to suddenly soar, it’d be easier to get home.

Maybe too, a fresh threat from the British government to re-introduce a two-week quarantine for returning holidaymakers from Spain might dampen their enthusiasm. 

The forlorn hope back in March of a hot summer reducing the Covid-19 has not panned out; indeed, between one thing and another, we appear to be heading towards a second wave of infection and France is considering closing its border with Catalonia (and its high number of Covid cases).  

Spaniards also need a holiday, and much is being written of the Catalonians driving off over the weekend to their favourite resorts (and, in many cases, not returning). 

Will tourism keep things ticking over? A brief trip to the local resort (Mojácar) on Monday appeared to BoT to suggest that business is doing pretty well considering, but – away from the beach – many companies are foundering.  La Información says that ‘658 major companies closed in June’. 

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Housing:

From La Vanguardia here: ‘The price of housing in Spain will continue to decline until the middle of next year. The second-hand market and tourist areas will be the most affected by the drop in sales due to the coronavirus crisis, according to the latest forecast from the CaixaBank Research real estate report’. Sales are expected to fall this year by 30 or 40% depending to a degree on the fall in domestic employment and tourist numbers during the pandemic. El Economista, quoting the same source, says that homes won’t regain their value before 2024. Assuming no further complications… 

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Tourism:

WolfStreet is in Barcelona: ‘The streets and plazas in Barcelona still eerily quiet as Covid-chaos upends tourism’. It says, ‘…In the absence of tourists, most bars, restaurants and cafes are operating at around 50% capacity. Twenty percent of bars in Spain have still not reopened (here)…’. 

‘Barely a year ago, the graffiti on the walls of Barcelona read Tourists Go Home. Now that they have gone, the city – along with others that are heavily dependent on the tourist trade – fears an economic meltdown and is hastily drawing up plans to lure visitors back while placating tourist-weary residents…’. The Guardian reports here.

La Vanguardia says that ‘50% of Spaniards will not go on vacation due to either the virus or the economy’. 

‘The fiesta is over in Magaluf – we’re pissed off’. The headline from El Confidencial

‘All quiet in Ibiza as the super-rich hide away and young Brits chill by the pool. With its near-deserted streets and laid-back vibe, the Spanish island is a world away from its pre-pandemic party scene’. The Guardian here

Some British tourists have cancelled their visits over the obligation to wear a mask in Spain suggests The Olive Press in a headline.  It’s not entirely surprising.

Andalucía hotel occupation is at 36% says Hosteltur quoting official figures. 

An article at Revista GQ looks at ‘low cost tourism’, or, as it prefers ‘overtourism’. The cheap trips, all-inclusive, pile ’em high type of tourism may produce satisfactory stats (83.7 million visitors in 2019), but doesn’t necessarily bring much wealth to anyone except the agencies. Politicians, says the article, have kept clear of the subject, as the citizens of tourist destinations – Barcelona, Mallorca, Granada and so on – must suffer certain inconveniences without too much complaint. 

As a reaction to the drunken hi-jinks in Mallorca… ‘Germany threatens to put restrictions on their citizens if they don’t act responsibly while on holiday abroad’ says La Vanguardia here. ‘The German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas calls the attitude of some Germans abroad «dangerous» and «inconsiderate»‘ it says. Will the British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab be contemplating similar restrictions?

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Finance:

‘Spain’s public debt exceeds 100% of GDP and reaches highs that have not been seen since 1908’ says El Economista here. The article begins: ‘The coronavirus crisis is leaving a notable hole in Spain’s public finances. The strong imbalance generated between income and expenses has allowed public debt to reach levels not seen since 1908, after touching 101.4% of GDP. The published data for May shows an increase of more than 20,000 million in a single month to a total debt of 1,258 trillion euros (or 1,258,000,000 million). In this way, the debt accumulated by public administrations exceeds the levels seen during and after the previous crisis and it is necessary to go back more than a century ago to find similar levels of debt…’.

The soccer business is in trouble, says El Mundo (paywall) here. The headline: ‘The pandemic has opened up a hole of 4,000 million euros in the football business’.

An article at noticiastrabajo.es looks at the Government’s plans to reduce (rather than eliminate) the use of cash. It says that ‘…One of the objectives of the Executive is to reduce fraud. Experts believe that eliminating cash will enhance proper tax payments, and prevent money laundering…’. 

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Catalonia:

‘The Acadèmia Valenciana de la Llengua, the Institut d’Estudis Catalans and the Universitat de les Illes Balears have signed a historic protocol to collaborate «in establishing a common language». There’s evidently strength in unity. The story is at Levante here

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Europe:

ElDiario.es notes that the queues are getting longer. ‘The pandemic aggravates the saturation of face-to-face procedures for foreigners: queues at the police station and eternal waiting for an appointment. If the difficulty of requesting immigration appointments was common before the state of alarm, the pandemic has ended up creating a bottleneck that leaves hundreds of foreign residents without a physical identity document’. The Brexit doesn’t help much either… 

‘The UK urges EU countries to ensure Britons living abroad can stay after Brexit. Government launches multimillion pound campaign to reach 1m British citizens in EU’ Thus, The Guardian here.

After a certain amount of fuss from the Netherlands (with the surprising supportof Spain’s PP), and the usual helpful sniping from the Spanish far-right press (the best they could do, a photo of Pedro Sánchez not wearing his mask), the four-day marathon is over and the EU has agreed to help those countries most in need with loans and direct aid. In the case of Spain, the sum of 149,000 million euros has been agreed. Pedro Sánchez: ‘We have reached a great agreement for Europe and Spain. Today, we are laying the foundations to respond to the Covid-19 crisis without forgetting tomorrow. We begin the path towards a great modernization, placing Europe where it deserves: at the forefront, without leaving anyone behind’. From The Standard here: ‘»Never before did the EU invest in the future like this,» Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes said. «It is a historic day for Europe,» said French President Emmanuel Macron, who earlier reflected on some «extremely tense moments» during the marathon summit. Just shy of being the longest EU summit in history, the 27 leaders huddled back in the main room of the Europa Centre and bumped elbows and made jokes before giving the package the final approval…’. The Corner seems satisfied: ‘The EU makes history: takes the clearest step towards integration and cooperation in years’. It says, ‘Thanks to this agreement, we believe that the risk of a European break-up has receded even further and that European growth should be supported over the medium term by these steps. The risk premium on European assets should therefore also fall, supporting markets’.

Spanish Property Insight asks ‘What are the implications of Brexit for British investors in Spanish property?’

‘UK travellers to EU face higher costs and a tangle of red tape’ The Independent is here

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The Coronavirus:

‘The prevalence of the novel coronavirus in Spain has risen three-fold over the last three weeks as authorities struggle to contain a rash of fresh clusters, mainly in the Catalonia and Aragon regions, Health Ministry data showed on Monday’. Reuters reports here

‘We can’t rule out another state of alarm anymore’, Spain’s worried health minister admits’. An item from The Local here

From The Huff Post here, ‘A vaccine against coronavirus developed by the University of Oxford has shown “promising” results, findings of the first phases of the study suggest. The early-stage trial showed the vaccine is “safe, causes few side effects, and induces strong immune responses”. ‘…Kate Bingham, chair of the government’s vaccine task-force, said “optimistically” a vaccine could be available before the end of the year, however she warned it could take longer…’. British scientists nevertheless warn that ‘the Covid-19 will be around for many years to come, even when there is a vaccine’ says Republica here.  

Aragón has proportionally the highest rate of coronavirus patients in Spain, doubling the rate in Catalonia. Zaragoza is the epicentre says the ABC here

El Plural must have its little joke. ‘Casado, from voting against the State of Alarm is now requesting government intervention to stop the outbreaks’.

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Corruption:

Perhaps to change the subject away from the ex-King, it has been decided behind the scenes to go after another hugely important figure in Spanish politics, the many-years president of Catalonia Jordi Pujol and his interesting family. As The Guardian says, ‘The former Catalan president amassed a huge fortune through crime, claims judge. Jordi Pujol, his wife Marta Ferrusola, his seven children and 18 other individuals linked to the family will be charged’. That should keep us quiet for a bit… 

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Courts:

From Spanish Property Insight comes ‘The Almanzora Country Club scam victims are owed 115 Million Euros’. It begins, ‘Were you one of more than a thousand victims of the Almanzora Country Club scam around 15 years ago? If so, you’re in for some long-awaited good news. Deposits paid by mainly British and Irish expats for the purchase of holiday homes, ranging from a few thousand to well over a hundred thousand euros, must now be repaid with interest…’. 

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Media: 

The pages that check for false news – Maldita and so on – are leaning to the far-left, says Vox indignantly.  From elDiario.es we read ‘Vox proposes regulating news-checkers, accusing them of supporting «certain political parties». The party claims that the verifications are carried out by organizations with «pretence of ideological neutrality, but in reality are dependent on the Government» and that they support «certain political parties over others».  (‘Similar to Bolsonaro or Trump’ says another article from the same source)

The director of El Español Pedro J. Ramírez exceeds all limits with his Sunday editorial, illustrated with a drawing of Pablo Iglesias shooting himself with a revolver in the mouth. More here. We imagine the fuss if a left-wing newspaper featured a cartoon of – for example – Santiago Abascal (Vox) in a similar pose. 

Breathless, we await the story. The build-up is unlikely – two investigators from Chicago have been spending twelve months in Spain to prepare a story attacking one of our free Brit newspapers. Money is no object. Where is John Pilger when you need him? The preparatory article here is titled ‘British Journalism in Spain is set to be exposed as Global247news investigators prepare to reveal dossier after an undercover investigation’. It has some grammatical errors in it (time was pressing), but on the other hand, they were probably in a hurry to get back to their research.  You know how it is. …  Heh!

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Various:

Nueva Tribuna takes a poke at the Abogados Cristianos association, saying that they are neither Christian, nor lawyers, nor even (strictly speaking) an association. And that’s not even all that’s wrong with them…

The ONCE, the national organisation for the blind (Wiki), has a special status in Spain, being able to produce its own lottery (and to have the results read out every night on TV). While the funds are reputedly returned to its members (72,351 either partially or fully blind), it certainly does well with its position. From elDiario.es, an interview here with the – one might say ‘competing’ – director of the gambling association Cejuego, Alejandro Landauce, who says caustically ‘The ONCE isn’t an NGO, you should see the wages their bosses earn’. The interview also considers the Government’s plans to control the gambling industry through reducing advertising, locations and other devices (while allowing the ‘public gambling such as la lotería, la quiniela, el bonoloto and so on). Another subject, la ludopátia (gambling addiction) said to be a curse of young Spaniards, is considered by the ABC in an article from September 2019: ‘Spain has the highest rate of gambling in Europe between 14 and 21 year olds’.

44% of Spaniards have increased their weight by one to three kilos during the lockdown, says La Vanguardia heavily. 

The story of the huge Spanish warship Nuestra Señora de la Santísima Trinidad, known popularly as ‘El Escorial de los mares’, is told by the ABC here. The largest ship of the times, she was eventually captured by the British in the Battle of Trafalgar (1805) and later scuttled. Wiki says ‘She was the heaviest-armed ship in the world when rebuilt in 1795, and bore the most guns of any ship of the line outfitted in the Age of Sail’. A full-size representation of the Santísima Trinidad can be seen and visited in the harbour of Alicante.

‘The age of exploration: when Africa discovered Spain. During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, encounters between African and Spanish kingdoms were largely a relationship of equals’. A feature at El País in English here

Bilbao Secreto features some words that Spanish has taken from Euzkera. Izquierda is the best known… Guiri, apparently, is another. 

The Government is to limit what kind of house-pets are to be allowed. No more exotics, apparently. 

Where the agricultural workers live. A report from LaSexta (video) called ‘Between garbage and no hot water in old farm-buildings: the inhumane conditions in which the seasonal workers must live’.

A peculiar friend of my father’s, a wizened individual called Cheap Pete, came by the house one afternoon around fifty years ago. ‘Bill’, he said, ‘I’ve found the secret to eternal youth. It’s called Ponche Caballero’. They shared the silvery bottle, and found that it was true. An article from Eye on Spain called ‘An after-dinner shot’ reminded me of the story. 

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See Spain:

El Confidencial takes us to nine charming coastal villages this summer. The usual suspects. 

A video on YouTube here called ‘Spain: Beautiful Architecture & Landscapes’ 

From España Fascinante (in English), ‘Spanish Virtual Museums to Visit from Home’. 

The ten most impressive medieval ruins in Spain, with Arte Viajero here

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Finally:

At Business over Tapas, we love Diana Navarro, because she can belt them out. Here she sings Mira lo que te has perdido on YouTube

Enviado por José Antonio Sierra