On Spain looking down the tunnel, is that the exit or just a train coming?

I am sorry, I know I am a voluntary expat, but Spain is just the land of the joke. Yesterday three things happened that made me corroborate as a right idea leaving the Peninsula.

1. The financial health
The FT informs us that “Spain acts to help lenders”. Is this the same Spain that a few weeks ago was still bragging about the soundness of her financial system? The same Spain that was so proud that the rest of Europe was turning towards the “Spanish way” of dealing with bank reserves? (all coming from the Banesto/Mario Conde disaster of the early 90s). And I am still watching Banco Santander with a pinch of salt…

2. The moral and legal health
On a different note, again the FT tell us of how to do business in Spain. As a Dubai friend told me once, if you are not from Dubai [Spain], don’t try to do business without a local in Dubai [Spain]. And if you do, you will probably get ripped off and the court will not rule in your favour.

Anyway, the story is that of César Alierta, the chairman of Telefónica, the telecom monopoly (let’s call things what they are) that skins Spaniards alive with the most expensive mobile, landline and internet prices of any Western country (claim denied by the Spanish government, though). This fella, just set up a company to oversee his insider trader deals. In the best interest of the few, the court just cleared him of accusations of insider trading because “too much time had elapsed between the alleged offence and the start of judicial proceedings”.

3. The job market health
We heard drums of record unemployment in Spain (near 20% doubling the rate 12 months ago and near my own prediction of 22-25%). Also that the heat wave has brought American cockroaches to Barcelona. Inspired by G.W. Bush, I decided to launch a preventive attack on the little fellas and spent this morning ringing insect exterminators for my flat in El Born.


a) Unemployment in Spain is partly out of laziness or deeply stupid laws and regulations. I only found two companies who worked on weekends but none did on Sunday. With unemployment over the roof, one would think that the government would relax the law and that people would be willing to work whenever.

b) The country is a rip-off. For a Roach Killer Gel I can get in a drugstore in USA for $6, they wanted €80-180 including spraying (and a 6-month guarantee when the gel producers promise 12 months).

c) All the companies I contacted quoted me the cost of the roach-raid with and without VAT, for my convenience. “In any case”, one lady told me without even thinking I might be a tax inspector, “you will get your 6 month guarantee”.

Sunlight might be the best of disinfectants, but surely rottens your spirit.



On the new clothes of the Spanish economy, where’s a child to tell the truth when you need it?

Hobbes, what Spain needs now, is the child in the crowd that that the emperor is walking down the street fully naked, and tells the truth. But they do not listen.

Today, it was the turn of the FT.com (Spain’s recession: After the fiesta). Paul Preston is considered one of the top specialists in the Spanish Civil War, and now it seems it takes the Financial Times to state the obvious. What is wrong with Spaniards that need a foreign voice to see reality as it is or was? Even El Pais, the leading left-wing Spanish newspaper, needs to quote the FT to comment on the matter.  Continue reading

On learning something once and for all, bankers wouldn’t make it as bricklayers, Madoff’s $50bn lesson to the mortals of the world

Hobbes, in June last year we bumped into one of my girlfriend’s friend and her husband.

Me, an amateur entrepreneur (if that is possible) trying to make ends meet.
Him, a successful London-NYC currency trader friends with movie stars, up and coming successful Spanish tennis players, and hooked on luxury hotels, cars and vacations.

Continue reading

On things they make us think that are for everybody but they are not: Home owenership

Hobbes, I believe there is a misconception in Western societies. I guess that is my generation’s (early 30s, and working on a nice curvy stomach) fault.

We grew up on an ever growing GDP world. We grew to believe as rights thinks that older generations couldn’t even think of having one day. Over the years, I have had several discussions with my mother in regards of home ownership. Continue reading

On enemies, assassins, terrorists and the manipulation of minds and words

Hobbes, see, I am a bit angry today. I just realised that Spanish flags fly at half mast in official buildings in London. And I am not upset and incensed because of meaningless drapes dancing to the winter winds, but because of what I don’t get.

Following on my Spanish series, and as the story goes, two Spanish soldiers doing army stuff in Afghanistan were killed by a suicide bomber while harming four more. Continue reading

On Banco Santander giving me the creeps with its persistent ‘all is fine’ attitude

Hobbes, I told you last week, good old Spanish manners, tricks, or just “lie until you cannot lie anymore, do the unexpected, and then keep on lying some more” business style is again making headlines.

FT.com and many others report that Banco Santander has launched a €7.2bn rights issue (1% of its capital) at a 46% discount on Friday’s closing price “to bolster its capital ratios”. Thanks god that we are already used to bankers lying to all of us. Continue reading

On guessing the collapse of Banco Santander and the Spanish ostrich act

Hobbes, I know that “Spain is different” (or that is what they wanted us to believe), but I am starting to feel really bad news in the horizon. I am no banking expert or economist, but other than the massive unemployment rate that keeps creeping up, the lack of competitiveness (let’s not get into their national haughtiness), and their bizarre definition of competitive markets, the late success of Banco Santander seems to me that is going to end up in tears. Many tears. Continue reading