The Spanish Challenge: 09/03/2012

Hello loyal reader,

If I had to tell you the story of Spain over the last few hours, this is what I would say…


“*What is a country full of lazy Spaniards going to do faced with the Chinese work ethic that Mercadona’s chairman has praised?*

*This morning, Spanish trade unions have decided there will be a general strike on March 29 in protest at Mariano Rajoy’s employment reform. They think Spain doesn’t want to work more for less.*

*We also read today that ([…read more and leave your comment here][dailycommentlink])*”

**TODAY’S NEWS FROM SPAIN ([COMMENT HERE][spanishchallengelink])**

1. **GENERAL STRIKE IN SPAIN ON MARCH 29**. Spain’s trade unions have announced this morning that there will be a GENERAL STRIKE in Spain on March 29. Apparently Rajoy didn’t phone them quickly enough to avoid one. Fight time. ([El País][elpais])

2. **BRUSSELS THINKS SPAIN IS LYING**. The German in the Economist the other day has had his way: Brussels thinks the Spanish are lying about the revised deficit figure, too, and they are sending a team of inspectors to Madrid to poke around and ask awkward questions. What do you think they will they find? ([Expansión][expansion])

3. **SHHH…DON’T ASK ABOUT THE KING!**. Democracy in Spain has taken a strange turn this week. The three main political parties in the Spanish parliament have decided to not allow any questions at all related to Spanish monarchy or the actions of the royal household. So, er, what happens if the King has a bit of a dodgy son-in-law and Spaniards are angry about that…? ([El Confidencial][elconfidencial])

4. **SPANIARDS DON’T WANT TO LISTEN TO SOUTH AMERICANS**. It appears that Telefónica’s Spanish clients have complained a lot about South Americans picking up the phone when they call customer service, so Telefónica has decided to move all of its call centers back to Spain. Spanish jobs for Spanish people. no South Americans allowed. ([Libre Mercado][libremercado])

5. **FORD: SPANISH HOLIDAYS TOO LONG**. Weighing in on the Chinese work ethic debate and the comments of Mercadona boss Juan Roig yesterday, Ford’s manufacturing director in Spain has said that holidays in Spain are “*excessive*” and that “*we’ll need to work more for less*”. ([Cinco Días][5dias])

6. **RETAIL SALES FALL 6% IN JANUARY**. It’s not like there were January sales ALL MONTH to try and buoy sales figures or anything like that. Despite that, retail sales in Spain fell 6% year-on-year in January, which is the 19TH consecutive month of negative numbers. The last time it was anywhere even close to ZERO was last April, when it reached –2,1%. ([INE][ine])

7. **SPAIN REALLY WANTS TO GROW GM CROPS**. Some EU countries love them, some EU countries want to stop agro companies growing them for environmental or economics reasons. For some reason, they must all decide together, can’t have anyone stepping out of line. Spain is in favour of GM crops, calling them ‘fundamental’ for food security and agircultural output. ([Europa Press][yahoo])

8. **TAX INSPECTORS LOOKING FOR THE WRONG PEOPLE**. Spain’s tax inspectors associaiont, Gestha, has complained that “*80% of tax inspectors are just investigating small businessmen*” and that “*we spend too much time chasing those people who are already paying*”. Both the tax inspectors and all of the financial consultants consulted by ABC think they should be spending much more time on discovering large-scale tax fraud. ([ABC][abc])

9. **SPAIN’S ARMED FORCES WEAKEN**. Following the mess in the UK with its armed forces budgets over the last couple of years, Spain has started down the same slippery slope. The Spanish Navy will not be participating in the new US anti-missile flotilla—based in Rota, southern Spain—because it costs too much. The Spanish Navy is not impressed. ([El Confidencial][elconfidencial2])

10. **ANTI-EVICTION LAW DETAILS**. Some more details have emerged this morning of the new anti-eviction, hand-in-your-keys plan for Spaniards struggling under the weight of their mortgages. You can sign up if your house is worth less than €200,000, if mortgage payments represent more than 80% of your monthly bills and if no-one at all in your house has a job. ([ABC][abc2])

Thank you for reading.

Regards from Murcia,




  • Jonathan Holland

    Thanks, Matthew. The positive stories ratio seems to be rising slightly, largely because there are signs of – gasp – accountability creeping it. (Spain doesn’t much like the concept of accountability.) If Brussels wants to come and sniff around, let ‘em! If tax inspectors want to start chasing the right people, then great! If Ford thinks that holidays are too long, then right now he’s right! And as for the General Strike…

  • MatthewBennett

    I’m trying…! Maybe it’s all about seeing the same stories in a positive light…