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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August 11 2022 Nº 457
I was at the Tanatorio, waiting as the old friends gathered. The air-con was on (just as well, it was killer hot outside) and, as Andalucía always favours naked walls and plenty of marble, the echoes and reverberations of the various conversations were such, that even with my hearing-aids turned to Yowza!, I still couldn’t make out what anybody was saying.
Something about The Departed, I supposed, as I looked solemn and said ‘uhh’ now and again.
Eventually, we were called to the chapel (similarly accoutred, but with a wooden cross for decoration and this time, with the seats all facing the same way). We tottered in and filled up the room from the back rows first. I was seated at the front – I was going to say something apparently.
The boom-box was switched on, the coffin was brought in, someone sniffled and the show began.
The son was the first up. No one knew him, he’d flown out from Manchester. He had brought some notes which included some jocularities as one does: the time my father did this, the time he said that. We laughed dutifully (although I still couldn’t make out a word).
I was third out of five. No notes and I took my glasses off (there was someone in the audience who owed me some money from a long time ago and I didn’t want to see him).
The dead friend had run the local bar for many years, and then finally retired a couple of decades ago. Like many in the bar-world, he’d enjoyed a drink or two. I doubt anyone was aware that he had left a family behind in the UK when he arrived here back in 1982, but we rarely ask settlers here about their former lives as they will usually shoot a line.
I remembered one hot evening in the bar when he had reached into the bottle cooler for a beer, found the temperature evidently to his liking, and fell asleep there, his head and shoulders slumped peacefully over the white wine.
Many of his customers are of course resting in the same cemetery which is now his new address. When the gates close each night, if you listen closely, you may hear a ghostly champagne bottle as it pops.
My point, as they played something from Frank Sinatra and we survivors staggered out into the hot afternoon’s heat, wondering who would be next, is this:
God, how old we’ve all gotten!
20Minutos leads with this alarming item: ‘Housing will face a perfect storm in the autumn: with a recession in sight, more expensive mortgages and less money available to spend’. It says: ‘…The warning bells are ringing in a sector that is facing a “perfect storm” looming on the horizon with several gloomy clouds: one, inflation that has eroded family income; another, the rise in interest rates that makes mortgages more expensive and scares away buyers; and third, the recession that is predicted for later this year – in the United States it has already arrived – and that would damage the economy, damage employment and, as a consequence, damage the demand for houses…’.
More on the abandoned village of Fraguas, the deluded hippies who tried to repopulate it, and the phenomenon of the Empty Spain. El Salto Diario went to visit the settlers who are now facing damages of 110,000€ plus some jail time… with pictures.
From Diario de Cádiz here: ‘The cheapest municipality to buy a house in Andalucía is in Cádiz’. A list of parishes follow, led by Puerto Serrano (Wiki) where a build is valued at just 422€ per m2 (the comments following the article take a poor view of this particular pueblo). The cheapest municipality in all of Spain, says the article, is Almadén (Wiki) in Ciudad Real at 373€M2.
Those free train rides for the rest of the year starting from September promoted by the government are available to all, including tourists says La Información. From Think Spain here: ‘The transport ministry explains how to get free frequent-traveller rail tickets’.
From Catalan News here: ‘Catalan police warn of suitcase robberies in hotels. Mossos d’Esquadra recommends leaving baggage in front while doing check-in at establishments’.
EPE looks at the complaints hoteliers have regarding their customers: ‘seventy percent of them leave their air-con running all day long and many of them bring up to their rooms food taken from the buffet…’ The most shocking? 18% of hotel guests drink the bottles in the mini-bar and then re-fill them with water!
The Government says that it expects to have the minimum wage (‘SMI’) raised by January to 1,049€ (there are fourteen monthly payments per year in Spain).
‘The Banco de España warns of the collapse in consumption along with a fall in household savings. Family perception regarding access to credit has also deteriorated since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine, as a rise in the cost of loans is anticipated’. The item about the current inflation spiral comes from La Información here.
From Armstrong Economics here: ‘Energy Rationing in Spain’. It begins, ‘Spain is yet another southern European country feeling the brunt of inflation. Spain’s National Statistics Institute (INE) reported that prices rose 10.8% in July, an increase from June’s 10.2% reading and May’s 8.5% level. This is the highest level of inflation for the nation since September 1984. Spain’s economy grew 1.1% in Q2, faring better than other nations, but this is a drastic decline from the 6.3% rise seen in Q2 2021. Energy prices have climbed 39.7%, and food prices have reached 9.8%. The government is simply asking residents to limit their energy consumption.
Airports, shopping centres, theatres, train stations, and all public buildings may not set their air conditioning below 27 C (80.6 F). Doors must be closed in order to preserve energy, and (exterior) lights must be off by 10pm…’ (Thanks Marco).
Somewhere else, we read the Government saying, ‘You may be able to afford the crisis, but Spain can’t’.
It’s decidedly odd, says Enrique Dans, that Spain hasn’t pushed harder on solar energy use while telling us instead to ease up on our traditional power consumption.
The Government later walked back a bit on the limits, allowing bars, restaurants and shops to set their air-con to 25ºC, says 20Minutos here.
Our worthy deputies are away from Parliament this month, enjoying their hols. Mind you, says El Debate here, they still get their monthly expenses of 2,000€ a pop.
A proposal from the moribund Ciudadanos party to bring in the ex-leader of the Madrid PP, Cristina Cifuentes, as their regional president and candidate for next year’s election, has met with refusal. ‘I’ve had more damage done to me in regional politics than even in the intensive care ward at the hospital’, she says. The story comes from ECD here.
España 2000 (a small ultra-far-right party which laughs at Vox) has the town hall of Los Santos de La Humosa in Madrid. Things aren’t going well there after the Vox councillor, who supported the minority España 2000 crew, was recently ejected from the local government for misuse of public funds. elDiario.es has more.
From Greek Reporter here: ‘40,000-Year-Old Neanderthal Cave Chamber Discovered in Gibraltar’. It says that ‘These hominins, who were in the Stone Age era of cultural development, lived in Europe for many centuries before dying out as a distinct people forty thousand years ago’.
‘Europe is on the way to the worst drought in history and the Spanish reservoirs have the lowest volume of water in a decade’ says 20Minutos here.
Sometimes we read that Portugal is better for we expatriate foreign settlers. Sometimes, though, it evidently isn’t. From The Guardian here: ‘Almost 35,000 Britons in limbo as Portugal fails to issue post-Brexit ID cards. British nationals living in country are unable to access healthcare, change jobs or travel in and out’.
The Financial Times recently published an interesting article about how nice it is to live in Spain, but that fifty years from now, it will become an inhospitable desert. It begins: ‘My preliminary conclusion: this is the world’s most liveable country, albeit even more for privileged foreigners than for the average Spaniard. But climate change could be particularly devastating here…’ The original article is here and El Confidencial more or less translates it here.
LaSexta brings us: ‘The current drought means limits to water consumption: the restrictions of autonomies and some municipalities are listed here. Galicia, Catalonia and Andalucía are applying the most restrictions due to the lack of water, having suffered the driest final week of July in 27 years’. With videos. Xataca says ‘The countdown for major water restrictions has begun’. The article carries a five minute video called ‘Climate Change and the Influence from Humans’. El Diario de Huelva forecasts a hot dry autumn here. As the Climate Crisis becomes ever more apparent, Público speaks to the President of the AEMET (the state meteorological agency) Miguel Ángel López González here.
‘The direct economic cost of the fires in Spain exceeds 2,000 million euros’ says LaSexta.
A video from Deutsche Welle in Spanish on the approaching death of the Mar Menor (because, says the poster on Twitter, the Spanish news-items on this subject usually tend to be skewed and are influenced by the agro-food industry).
One detail from the new animal welfare law says Revista Jara y Sedal (the huntin’, fishin’ and shootin’ magazine) is that beggars may be fined ‘from 500€ up to 10,000€’ for having a canine companion by their side when asking for alms.
El Periódico de Extremadura takes us on a helicopter ride over an illegal settlement built by wealthy narcos. The title reads: ‘A Trip to ‘VillaNarco’. More than a hundred illegal chalets with swimming pools, an elephant and hideouts for drugs and money. The “main street” of hashish trafficking is in La Línea de la Concepción (Cádiz). We visit the area by helicopter and obtains unpublished images thanks to the drones used by the Police’. The elephant (we were glad to read) is made of stone and shoots water out of its trunk into a fancy swimming pool.
This thing about not paying bills over 1000€ in cash… how much money can you legally carry in your pocket? Well… 100,000€ actually! 20Minutos has the details here.
The Opus Deí is the powerful religious organisation that lurks in the background in Spain, supporting where it can the right-wing causes that are in return loyal to its principals. Until now, it has enjoyed the blessings of the Vatican, but Pope Francisco has turned his face away from the sect, ‘degrading its power within the Holy See’.
‘El Argar, the enigmatic civilization that mysteriously vanished. Emerging some 4,000 years ago, it was the first society divided into classes in the Iberian Peninsula and the one that created the first parliament in the world. It vanished abruptly in 1550 BC’. With some nice pictures, the article appears in El País in English here.
A Facebook page called Antique Archaeology brings us the Dolmen of Soto (in Trigueros, Huelva) here, ‘Construction must have taken place between the Neolithic and Bronze Age (i.e. 3000-2500 BC)’. (Thanks to David)
From The Olive Press here: ‘La Inglesa: The extraordinary love story behind a winery in the heart of Andalucía and the Englishwoman that inspired it’. It tells of how a Spanish brigadier, held by the British as a captive, met and fell in love with Lady Louise Rebecca Ward Hopwood, finally bringing her home to Montilla (Córdoba). The winery can be visited by the public (here).
From The Barents Observer (we have a subscription) here: ‘The Governor of Murmansk will have to give up mansion on Spanish Riviera. Andrei Chibis must say adiós to the Catalan city of Tarragona following new Russian legislation that bans property ownership in NATO countries’.
The headline of the week undoubtedly comes from Spanish News here: ‘Spectacular U-turn as air-conditioning restrictions in Spain make global headlines. The Spanish government will review its energy-saving policy after British tourists were warned they “were going to roast” on holiday this year’. Quite.
elDiario.es brings us an article about hiking in Andorra here.