Posted by Kendall Harmon

Lionel Messi’s late first half goal made him the all-time leading El Clasico goal scorer on Sunday, and he scored twice more in the second half for a hat trick in Barcelona’s 4-3 win over Real Madrid.

Barca struck first thanks to a perfectly-weighted pass from Messi that found Andres Iniesta at full stride, and he lashed a left-footed laser into the upper netting. It was a powerful strike that put the visitors ahead in the 7th minute.

Cristiano Ronaldo was harassed, banged and brutalized early as Barca looked to intimidate the Portuguese superstar, but he was still effective early.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMenSports* International News & CommentaryEuropeSpain

1 Comments
Posted March 23, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dioceses across Italy, as well as in countries such as Spain, are increasing the number of priests schooled in administering the rite of exorcism, fabled to rid people of possession by the Devil.

The rise in demonic cases is a result of more people dabbling in practices such as black magic, paganism, Satanic rites and Ouija boards, often exploring the dark arts with the help of information readily found on the internet, the Church said.

The increase in the number of priests being trained to tackle the phenomenon is also an effort by the Church to sideline unauthorised, self-proclaimed exorcists, and its tacit recognition that belief in Satan, once regarded by Catholic progressives as an embarrassment, is still very much alive.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeItalySpain* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* Theology

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Posted January 6, 2014 at 11:27 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Granada was of course, in 1492, the last Moorish city to surrender to the “Catholic Kings”. The return of Islam today has loud historical resonances. The Grand Mosque of Granada, as it calls itself, is now celebrating the 10th anniversary of its controversial opening.

It is the brainchild of Abdalqadir as-Sufi, born in Scotland in 1930 and christened Ian Dallas. He became a Muslim in 1967 and spent years seeking permission from the city council of Granada to build a mosque here.

What I had not realised, until I read a fascinating chapter in In the Light of Medieval Spain (Palgrave, £61), is that, down the hill, a mosque had long been functioning in Granada that is more open to the mainstream of Islam than the cliquish Albaicín mosque. Near the Plaza Nueva, next to the Oasis Backpackers’ Hostel, stands the al-Taqua mosque. It has been there since the 1980s.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeSpain* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted November 16, 2013 at 2:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Congratulations to Borussia Dortmund for making the Champions League Final.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchSports* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermanySpain

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Posted April 30, 2013 at 4:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At the center of Spain and of ancient Castile, and less than an hour from Madrid, Toledo has always existed in another world. Countless settlers have been drawn to the city's impregnable perch on a mountaintop, and they have shaped its cultural history: Romans, Visigoths, Moorish caliphates and, in the medieval period, Muslim, Christian and Jewish communities all left their mark on monuments that fill the small city. Domenikos Theotokopoulos—the 16th-century painter from Crete known as El Greco—left his adopted home some of its greatest treasures, including his magisterial painting of "The Burial of the Count of Orgaz." On a monumental scale (almost 16 feet by 10 feet) and in astonishingly original form, the canvas reflects not only centuries of Toledo's history as a cultural melting pot, but the profound faith and tolerance that sustained it.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchArtHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeSpain

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Posted April 7, 2013 at 11:51 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In assessing the greatness of Lionel Messi, Arsene Wenger, usually the world’s most insightful soccer manager, once said a trite thing: “When you look at the numbers, you have to kneel down and say they are fantastic.”

Wenger was referencing the 2010-11 season, in which Messi scored 53 goals in all competitions.

On Saturday, in his last game before the Christmas break, Messi scored his 91st goal of 2012. So Messi not only crushed the 40-year-old calendar-year scoring record held by German Gerd Muller (85), he reversed over it a few times.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMenSports* International News & CommentaryEuropeSpain

1 Comments
Posted December 23, 2012 at 6:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Judge eternal, throned in splendor, who gavest Juan de la Cruz strength of purpose and mystical faith that sustained him even through the dark night of the soul: Shed thy light on all who love thee, in unity with Jesus Christ our Savior; who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistorySpirituality/Prayer* International News & CommentaryEuropeSpain

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Posted December 14, 2012 at 4:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It was Pep Guardiola, the former manager of Barcelona, who once suggested that Lionel Messi should be observed instead of dissected. He is, after all, widely considered the world’s greatest soccer player, not a biology project.

“Don’t try to write about him,” Guardiola said. “Don’t try to describe him. Watch him.”

On Sunday, Messi set an international record by scoring his 86th goal in a calendar year, for both Barcelona and the Argentine national team, delivering an average of one goal every four days, more frequently than a starting pitcher takes the mound, as often as Starbucks opens a new store in China.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMenSports* International News & CommentaryEuropeSpainSouth AmericaArgentina

0 Comments
Posted December 12, 2012 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Watch it all. Simply stunning.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMenSports* International News & CommentaryEuropeSpainSouth AmericaArgentina

1 Comments
Posted December 12, 2012 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Placido Domingo is one of the most influential people in classical music. During a 50-year career, he's played more than 140 roles, conducted more than 450 operas, and won just about every award that a human being can win in opera and life.

Domingo has a new album of solo songs and duets with other singers, whose names might surprise you. Take, for example, his version of Shania Twain's "From This Moment On" — a duet with Susan Boyle.

Listen to it all (slightly over 9 minutes).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMusic* International News & CommentaryEuropeSpain

1 Comments
Posted October 24, 2012 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For 33 years, Sánchez Gordillo has been mayor of Marinaleda, pop. 2,700, another farming settlement about 100 miles west of Jódar. Like Jódar, Marinaleda is mostly inhabited by jornaleros. Over the decades, Sánchez Gordillo has transformed the poor village into an islet of social justice and relative prosperity, with almost full employment through communal farming, low taxes, a salary of €1,200 ($1,572), food and housing considered as rights, and “direct democracy” exercised through frequent general assemblies. Sánchez Gordillo and his townsmen launched their movement to build what he calls “a communist utopia” after the death of general and dictator Francisco Franco in 1975, occupying land owned by a member of the royal family and distributing it for communal ownership as well as taking over local airports.

His efforts in Marinaleda long ago earned him a regional following, but Sánchez Gordillo and his lieutenant, the 57-year-old Diego Cañamero, the SAT union’s national spokesman, have gained renown in recent months with a series of controversial protests against the austerity measures embraced by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and the Spanish government. On Aug. 7, the two led union members on raids on Carrefour (CA) and Mercadona supermarkets, leaving the stores with shopping carts full of “expropriated” food they gave away to the hungry poor.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPoverty* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeSpain

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Posted October 23, 2012 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An exit poll showed Mr. Rajoy's conservative party winning 39 or 40 of the parliament's 75 seats in his native Galicia, a gain of at least one seat over the Spanish Socialist Party and two smaller rivals. He had touted Galicia as a regional model for the economic-austerity program his government has pursued amid rising popular protest in the rest of Spain.

In the Basque Country, another exit poll showed a surprisingly strong second-place finish by a new radical separatist coalition, apparently enough to help a more-moderate nationalist party oust the ruling coalition between Mr. Rajoy's party and the Spanish Socialist Workers Party.

The exit polls, taken by the regional government-owned television networks in Galicia and Basque Country, are widely regarded as reliable.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Spain

0 Comments
Posted October 21, 2012 at 12:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"The Spanish were a bit hesitant but now they are ready to request aid," a senior European source said. Three other euro zone senior euro zone sources confirmed the shift in the Spanish position, all speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to discuss the matter.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has said Spain is taking all the right steps to overcome its fiscal problems and does not need a bailout, arguing that investors will recognise and reward Spanish reforms in due course.

Privately, several European diplomats and a senior German source said Chancellor Angela Merkel preferred to avoid putting more individual bailouts for distressed euro zone countries to her increasingly reluctant parliament.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010GermanySpain

1 Comments
Posted October 2, 2012 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Spanish government Saturday said the effort to clean up an ailing banking system will have a big impact on its finances, widening its budget gap and increasing its debt load.

Budget Minister Cristobal Montoro said the government forecasts its budget deficit will stand at 7.4% of gross domestic product this year. Excluding the impact of measures to help banks to digest a massive pile of toxic real-estate assets, he said Spain will comply with the deficit target of 6.3% of GDP for 2012 it has committed to with the European Union.

The new budget projections come at a time of uncertainty about the country's solvency amid soaring borrowing costs. Many analysts expect the government's effort to lower a budget gap to below the 3%-of-GDP limit for EU countries by 2014 to go off track also because of a deep recession that is pushing the unemployment rate to a record high of almost 25%.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Spain

2 Comments
Posted September 30, 2012 at 5:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...Rajoy is the victim of his electoral success: his majority government, ironically, is weaker for not including regionalist partners. The Catalan government sees the dissatisfaction with Madrid’s handling of the crisis as an opportunity: it may give the regionalists enough of a boost at the polls to force Madrid to hand them more autonomy, in other words, control of taxes. If Catalonia had control over its own taxes, the argument goes, the region would not have needed a bailout.

Rajoy’s choices are limited: he either refuses Catalan demands for more autonomy and risks enflaming Catalan nationalist sentiment, or agrees to increased autonomy, and risks enflaming Spanish nationalist sentiment.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketStock MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermanyGreeceSpain

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Posted September 26, 2012 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Greeted with initial fanfare by investors and economic officials, the unlimited bond-buying plan that the European Central Bank president, Mario Draghi, announced Thursday ran into immediate political problems in the crucial countries of Germany, Spain and Italy.

In Germany, despite Chancellor Angela Merkel’s support for Mr. Draghi and the independence of the Central Bank, political and news media reaction was scathing, with accusations that the bank, in seeking to stabilize the euro currency union, was subverting its mandate to fight inflation and forcing debt upon euro zone members.

“A Black Day for the Euro,” “Over the Red Line” and “Pandora’s Box Opened Forever” were some of the German headlines, with the normally sympathetic Süddeutsche Zeitung headlining an editorial: “The E.C.B. Rewards Mismanagement.” Even the German Bundesbank, officially part of the European Central Bank, put out a statement commenting acidly that the plan was “financing governments by printing bank notes.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010GermanyItalySpain

0 Comments
Posted September 9, 2012 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Shortly after confiding to his countrymen that he had been unable to sleep at night because of all the young unemployed people in his country, Spanish King Juan Carlos secretly hopped aboard a plane and went on a lavish safari to Botswana, where he shot elephants.

When word leaked out this spring, Spaniards were outraged. Newspapers calculated that such hunting trips cost twice the country’s average annual salary. Tomas Gomez, a Socialist party leader, called on the king to choose between his “public responsibilities or an abdication.” Now, critics are calling on him to slash his budget and reveal how he is spending the money.

The backlash against the 74-year-old king is part of a broader soul-searching in Europe about the role and relevance of monarchies as the economic crisis deepens.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankTaxesThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Spain* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted August 24, 2012 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Attached to the bishop’s letter was a series of points as to why voters should consider repealing the law under Referendum 74. Stating that the new marriage law does not expand but redefines marriage in terms of a relationship between two people, the American prelate stated that such a change would cause marriage to lose its unique identity.

Another matter of concern was that a redefinition of marriage would inevitably lead to a redefinition of parenthood. The letter cited examples of similar laws passed in Spain and Canada, where traditional designations such as "mother" and "father" have been replaced with either "Parent 1 and Parent 2" or "Progenitor 1 and Progenitor 2."

Words matter, Bishop Cupich stated, "especially words like mother and father, which have real depth and meaning. We lose a great deal when they are substituted by terms and designations not otherwise used. They are strange to the ear, but they also fail to convey what fathers and mothers each bring as male and female to the critical task of generating, rearing and educating their sons and daughters."

Read it all and please take the time to read the full text of Bishop Blase Cupich's letter.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryCanadaEuropeSpain* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

0 Comments
Posted August 14, 2012 at 3:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The anger within the three parties of the ruling coalition is understandable. These are the parties of the German taxpayer, after all, and ever since the sovereign debt crisis began they have been reciting the mantra that the eurozone is not and will not become a “transfer union”; that there will be no mutualisation of debt; that Mediterranean sloth and tax evasion will not be rewarded by payments from hardworking, honest Nordic Germany.

If this sounds racist, it’s because the debate is tinged on all sides by nationalist stereotypes. The German middle class feels it has been had and the country is digesting Moody’s downgrading of its credit rating. “Is this what we get for saving the Greeks?” asks the tabloid Bild. Good question....

It is impossible to explain to a German who has had her retirement age upped to 67, or an unemployed German whose benefits have been cut to balance the budget, why billions of euros should go south to support governments that didn’t have the guts to slash social spending or who let their citizens retire to the beach at 55.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--IrelandEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010GermanyGreeceItalyPortugalSpain

0 Comments
Posted July 31, 2012 at 5:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Spain is heading for a general bailout. It may not happen immediately, but that is what the figures suggest - that sometime in the autumn, maybe sooner, the country will need a full-blown rescue.

It is fiercely denied, of course. The Spanish Economy Minister, Luis de Guindos, said "Spain is a solvent country, there will be no bailout... I believe that Spain is a competitive country. We have a trade surplus with the eurozone, we have a very competitive tourism sector".

Then there are the facts on the ground. The bailout of the Spanish banks - sealed last Friday - lacks conviction. House prices are still falling. Indeed in the second quarter they were declining at the fastest rate since the start of the crisis. The real estate bubble, stoked by the eurozone's low interest rates, continues to take its toll.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Spain

0 Comments
Posted July 24, 2012 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It was a dominant performance today.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMenSports* International News & CommentaryEuropeItalySpain

2 Comments
Posted July 1, 2012 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I was hoping for more from France but Spain is just amazingly good and patient.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMenSports* International News & CommentaryEuropeFranceSpain

2 Comments
Posted June 23, 2012 at 3:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Group of 20 leaders focused their response to Europe’s financial crisis on stabilizing the region’s banks, raising pressure on German Chancellor Angela Merkel to expand rescue measures as contagion engulfed Spain.

As U.S. President Barack Obama called after-dinner talks with euro-area leaders at the G-20 summit in Mexico, the Treasury department’s top international negotiator, Lael Brainard, said Europe is making an effort to “break the feedback loop” between banks and government debt, the link that is worsening Spain’s woes.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankG20 The Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Spain

0 Comments
Posted June 19, 2012 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After clinching Spain’s €100 billion bank bailout, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy flew to Poland on Sunday for the Spanish team’s soccer match, declaring “this matter is now resolved.”

Not so fast, prime minister.

On Tuesday, Spain’s long-term borrowing costs soared to their highest level since the country joined the euro zone. Investors have apparently concluded that the rescue is potentially a much better deal for the banks and their shareholders than for the government, its taxpayers and bondholders.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyTaxesThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Spain* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted June 13, 2012 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...there are too many unanswered questions. How much capital will actually be provided? Which banks will need to be recapitalized? How will the process be managed? The answers won't be known until two independent valuation experts have reported at the end of June. The International Monetary Fund assessment estimates €37 billion was needed to ensure all banks had a 7% core Tier 1 ratio on a phased-in Basel III basis. But the market will probably demand at least 9% on a fully loaded Basel III basis after substantial new write-downs, suggesting a number much closer to the full €100 billion.

One key unknown is where the bailout money will come from. Will it be from the old euro-zone bailout fund, the European Financial Stability Facility, or the new European Stabilization Mechanism, due to come into existence in July? If it comes from the ESM, existing government bondholders will be subordinated—no small concern given €100 billion is more than 10% of Spanish government debt outstanding. That could affect the willingness of bond markets to keep funding the government.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Spain

0 Comments
Posted June 11, 2012 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Europe may have sidestepped its latest catastrophe, at least for the moment, by hammering out a €100 billion bailout plan for Spain’s failing banks over the weekend.

But the intervention will do little to address the problem that continues to plague the Continent’s increasingly vulnerable financial institutions. Namely: a longstanding addiction to the borrowed money that provides the day-to-day financing that they need to survive.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Spain

0 Comments
Posted June 11, 2012 at 5:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Spain's banking crisis did not come out of the blue.

In the 1990s, the Spanish suffered a bout of collective madness. Interest rates fell from 14 per cent (with the peseta) to 4 per cent (with the euro) in a matter of weeks.

In 1998, the centre-right government passed a law that increased the amount of land for development. Developers got rich, selling the idea that property would always go up in value. You could buy a flat on the Mediterranean for $156,000 and sell it the next day for $234,000; by the end of the month it would be worth $390,000.....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate MarketThe Banking System/SectorForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Spain

0 Comments
Posted June 10, 2012 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Europe is to offer Spain a bailout package of up to €100 billion ($125 billion) to help rescue the country’s banks and keep the 17-country eurozone from breaking apart.

After months of fierce denials, Spain admitted it would tap the fund as it moved faster than expected to stem the economic crisis that has ravaged Europe for two years.

Spain becomes the fourth - and largest - European economy to ask for help and its admission of help comes after months of market concern about its ability to pay its way. In recent weeks investors have demanded higher and higher costs to lend to Spain, and it became clear it would be just too expensive for the country to borrow the money necessary for a bank rescue from the markets.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankHousing/Real Estate MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Spain

0 Comments
Posted June 9, 2012 at 4:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Although they have rented it out to a restaurant for the past five years, the owners of one building in Aspe have never paid property tax. Nor have they ever paid tax on the apartments that house two of their employees. But that may be about to change. Last week, the city's government voted to partially rescind the exemption that the Catholic Church, landlord of those three properties and another eight more in town, has long enjoyed. And thanks to the crisis that threatens to upend Spain's economy, it's not the only place demanding change.

Three different laws, including a 1979 agreement with the Vatican, exempt the Catholic Church from paying property tax in Spain. The same provision holds for other recognized religions and non-profit organizations like the Red Cross, yet because Catholicism is the dominant religion in Spain, and because the Church's holdings there are so vast (España Laica, a pro-secularism group, estimates that were it not for the exemption, the church would annually owe 2.5 to 3 billion euros in property taxes), critics have long argued that the arrangement is part of the preferential treatment granted the Catholic Church. It's only now, however, with austerity measures bearing down and a European bailout looming, that anyone has thought to put that criticism into action. Economic pressure, in other words, may well accomplish what 33 years of democracy have not.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyTaxesPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Spain* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

0 Comments
Posted June 9, 2012 at 1:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The eurozone sovereign debt emergency showed no signs of abating yesterday as the Spanish government desperately haggled over the terms of its expected bailout and the European Central Bank refused to ease monetary policy for the currency bloc, despite signs of stricken European economies sinking still deeper into recession.

Madrid's Economy Minister, Luis de Guindos, insisted once again he was not making any plans to follow Greece, Portugal and Ireland in requesting a bailout from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. But, behind the scenes, Spanish ministers accept that an external rescue of the country's beleaguered banking sector is now necessary. Spain is trying to persuade its European partners to allow the European bailout fund to inject capital directly into its banks, rather than diverting the money through the state. Madrid fears that a full-blown national bailout would be accompanied by an onerous EU/IMF inspection system.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Spain

0 Comments
Posted June 7, 2012 at 5:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On consecutive days last week, two of the most powerful figures in Europe — Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, and Olli Rehn, the most senior economic official in Brussels — warned that the future of the euro zone was in doubt. In the words of Mr. Rehn, the union might well disintegrate unless policy makers took steps to bind the euro’s 17 nations closer together.

Coming as they did from two men at the very soul of the European project, the reprimands were a stark reminder of just how much the Spanish financial meltdown had shaken the confidence of the European brain trust, to say nothing of investors from New York to Beijing.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermanyGreecePortugalSpain

0 Comments
Posted June 3, 2012 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

All eyes were fixed Wednesday on Spain, as the country’s borrowing costs showed no signs of slowing their climb amid nervousness about the health of the banking sector and the possibility of the crisis spreading to other euro countries.

Europe’s economic stagnation and continuing financial turmoil in the euro zone have weighed on confidence, the European Commission said Wednesday. The commission’s indicator of business sentiment in the 17-nation euro zone fell in May to 90.6 from April’s revised 92.9. The decline, it said, “was driven by falling confidence in all business sectors, especially in industry and retail trade.”

Jonathan Loynes, an economist in London with Capital Economics, noted that the sentiment data showed “acute weakness across the peripheral economies,” but that the Dutch, French and Germans were also less optimistic. He described it as “overall, an unambiguously weak picture which only looks likely to get worse as the debt crisis continues,” and predicted that euro zone gross domestic product would decline by 1 percent this year, with 2013 “likely to be much worse.”

Read it all. Also, if you want a single picture to keep an eye on, it is the Spanish German 10 year spread which you may see there (yes, that is correct, it is at all all time high).

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentTreasury Secretary Timothy GeithnerForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Spain

0 Comments
Posted May 30, 2012 at 6:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The three congregations of St Christopher’s on the Costa Azahar, north of Valencia, united in the service in a church member’s large garden overlooking the Mediterranean in Ampolla.

Their Australian locum priest, Fr. Kevin Ellem, spoke passionately of the power of God’s Spirit to invigorate His Church today. Fr Kevin added a native touch to the occasion by leading the service wearing an outback approved sun hat.

Read it all and enjoy the pictures.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsPentecostLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* International News & CommentaryEuropeSpain

1 Comments
Posted May 29, 2012 at 7:04 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What will become of the European Union? One road leads to the full break-up of the euro, with all its economic and political repercussions. The other involves an unprecedented transfer of wealth across Europe’s borders and, in return, a corresponding surrender of sovereignty. Separate or superstate: those seem to be the alternatives now.

For two crisis-plagued years Europe’s leaders have run away from this choice. They say that they want to keep the euro intact—except, perhaps, for Greece. But northern European creditors, led by Germany, will not pay out enough to assure the euro’s survival, and southern European debtors increasingly resent foreigners telling them how to run their lives.

This has become a test of over 60 years of European integration....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermanyGreeceItalyPortugalSpain

1 Comments
Posted May 27, 2012 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ángel de la Peña, a Spanish government worker, is seriously considering the once unthinkable: converting some of his savings from euros to British pounds.

Alvaro Saavedra Lopez, a senior executive for I.B.M. in Spain, says many of his corporate counterparts across the country are similarly looking for safer havens by transferring their spare cash to stronger euro zone countries like Germany “on a daily basis.”

It is only a trickle so far, and not nearly enough to constitute a classic bank run. But these growing transfers of deposits out of troubled Spanish banks reflect a broader fear that the country’s problems could make it hard for Spaniards to get to their money if banks fail and cannot be supported by the government. In a worst case, some even worry their money will be worth substantially less if Spain is forced to leave the euro currency zone and re-adopt its old currency, the peseta.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Spain

0 Comments
Posted May 25, 2012 at 5:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Like the single market before, ...[the Euro] was conceived primarily as glue to bind Europe more closely together, tie Germany’s prosperity to that of its neighbors and prevent a third world war from the Continent, which had brought us two. A few engineering flaws wouldn’t be allowed to get in the way of such an important project.

A little over a decade since the first euro bills hit the shops in Madrid and Berlin, the euro’s design flaws have pushed much of the European Union into a deep economic pit. And political imperative is again being deployed as a major reason to stick to the common currency. “This enormously important motivation is often underestimated by outsiders,” argued the Financial Times columnist Martin Wolf, the most sober analyst of Europe’s economic maelstrom....

The main problem is that while leaders eagerly embraced the monetary bond, they rejected its necessary complement: a central budget that would transfer money from successful regions to underperforming ones, as the United States government sends tax dollars collected in Massachusetts to pay for unemployment benefits in Nevada.

The euro fed the illusion that Greece, Spain and Italy were as creditworthy as Germany or the Netherlands, propelling a decade-long credit boom in Europe’s less-developed periphery. And it was spectacularly ill-designed to deal with the shock when capital flows to those nations suddenly stopped. Weak countries not only had to rely on their own devices; they had to do so without a currency or a monetary policy of their own to absorb the blow....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermanyGreeceItalyPortugalSpain

2 Comments
Posted May 19, 2012 at 8:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As Spain’s recession deepens, more workers like Juan are being shunted into an underground economy that amounts to as much as a fifth of Spain’s gross domestic product, according to some estimates, with broad implications as the country tries to revive itself, reform its labor market and keep at bay the kind of wrenching crisis that now threatens to push Greece out of the euro zone.

The happy news is that the size of the underground economy means that more Spaniards are working than it might seem, and that the official unemployment figure of 24.4 percent — the highest in Europe — may be overstated by as much as five to nine percentage points, economists say. That has given the Spanish government an important safety valve.

“Without the underground economy, we would be in a situation of probably violent social unrest,” said Robert Tornabell, a professor and former dean of the Esade business school in Barcelona.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Spain

2 Comments
Posted May 18, 2012 at 7:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There could be immediate risks to the Spanish and Italian economies: Tens of billions of dollars have left those nations in recent months as investors doubt their ability to both control rising public debt and boost their economies from recession. A Greek departure from the euro would, officials and analysts fear, push the lack of confidence in the euro zone to another level, accelerate that capital flight and leave one or both nations close to economic collapse.

It is a pattern reminiscent of what happened in Latin America and Asia in the 1990s, and it is the most likely way that a Greek exit from the euro could ignite a global round of financial contagion. The risks were highlighted Thursday when the Moody’s rating agency cut its assessment of Spanish banks, saying it had less confidence in the ability of the Spanish government to support the country’s financial system.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010GreeceItalySpain

0 Comments
Posted May 18, 2012 at 5:55 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In 2011, regional president Francisco Camps announced that the [Valencia's The City of Arts and Sciences] complex had brought in some 40 million tourists since it opened, and the complex has indeed become the most readily identifiable sign of the city. But visibility alone does not mean success, especially in times of economic crisis. The Valencia project came in four times over its original budget, and its final unit was not completed until 2005.

And it's hardly alone. The Oscar Niemeyer International Cultural Center, a massive exhibition and performance space designed by the Brasilian architect for the northern Spanish port city of Avilés, ceased programming less than a year after it was inaugurated in March 2011. After decades of planning, Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain finally inaugurated its City of Culture, a Peter Eisenman campus, containing a museum, a library and a performance space, in January 2011. Yet the eventual $500 million spent wasn't even enough to finish the complex: the city ran out of money before completing two of the six planned buildings. "The crisis hit, and they didn't have any choice," says Anxo Lugilde, Galicia correspondent for La Vanguardia newspaper. "They had to stop construction."

Read it all.


Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryEuropeSpain

0 Comments
Posted May 16, 2012 at 6:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The euro crisis is entering its final stages. Economic pain is now interacting with political resistance to produce intense financial pressure. I expect Greece to leave the euro – and perhaps very soon.

It could happen voluntarily, but both the Greek people and Greek politicians are still clinging to the idea that they can put an end to austerity yet still stay in the euro. In order to try to achieve that, a new government may call the eurozone's bluff.

At that point, the other eurozone members would face an awkward choice. Doubtless there would be voices in favour of providing the money, willy nilly. That might well be the French position. But if the eurozone gives way on this, what chance would there be of painful austerity being continued, not just in Greece but also in Portugal, Spain, Italy and Ireland? The northern countries would face the prospect of pouring money into a bottomless pit.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermanyGreeceItalyPortugalSpain

3 Comments
Posted May 15, 2012 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Spain's sickly economy faces a "crisis of huge proportions", a minister said on Friday, as unemployment hit its highest level in two decades and Standard and Poor's weighed in with a two-notch downgrade of the government's debt.

Spain's unemployment rate shot up to 24 percent in the first quarter, the highest level since the early 1990s and one of the worst jobless figures in the world. Retail sales slumped for the twenty-first consecutive month.

"The figures are terrible for everyone and terrible for the government ... Spain is in a crisis of huge proportions," Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said in a radio interview.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in GeneralCity Government* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Spain

0 Comments
Posted April 27, 2012 at 5:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Filed under: * Culture-WatchMenSports* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermanySpain

0 Comments
Posted April 25, 2012 at 4:22 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When it was over, and the balloons had shriveled and the whistles had faded away, Lionel Messi put his hands to his head. Messi, the slick, slippery forward, was rooted to his spot: it was as if he could not believe what he was seeing.

He was not alone. Around him, the Chelsea players threw their arms over one another, hugging in equal parts glee and exhaustion, while the Barcelona players only stared, as if overwhelmed by two sobering truths: on this day, Messi, perhaps the greatest player in the world, could not score. And Barcelona, perhaps the greatest team in the world, could not win.

Instead it was Chelsea, despite playing a man short for nearly an hour in front of a frenzied crowd at the Camp Nou stadium, that advanced to the Champions League final.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMenSports* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEuropeSpain

5 Comments
Posted April 24, 2012 at 6:13 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Barring some kind of cataclysmic collapse—aliens landing at the training ground and kidnapping half the squad might do the trick—Real Madrid will win its 32nd Spanish title this year. Saturday's 2-1 win at archrival Barcelona left Jose Mourinho's crew with a seven-point lead and four games to play, which means arithmetic is the only factor delaying Real's coronation.

Real Madrid could well have lost at Camp Nou and still won La Liga. But actually defeating its eternal rival is something of a game-changer. Mourinho may not admit it, but he didn't just get a monkey off his back, he banished a whole pack of screaming orangutans.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMenSports* International News & CommentaryEuropeSpain

2 Comments
Posted April 23, 2012 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If Spain’s crisis deepens Europe’s recession, it could tip the entire world economy into a stubborn slump. The ramifications would be enormous, including: reduced odds of Barack Obama’s reelection, assuming a weaker U.S. recovery; less political cohesion and more social unrest in Europe (even now, the European Union’s unemployment rate is 10.2 percent); and growing pressures in many countries for economic nationalism and protectionism.

Spain is suffering a hangover from what economist Desmond Lachman of the American Enterprise Institute calls “the mother of all housing booms.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermanyGreeceItalySpain

0 Comments
Posted April 23, 2012 at 5:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Europe threw its weight behind Spain yesterday after a diplomatic war broke out between Madrid and Buenos Aires over Argentina’s decision to take over a multibillion-pound energy company.

In the wake of tensions between Britain and Argentina on the anniversary earlier this month of the Falklands invasion, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner risked further alienation around the world by pushing ahead with the nationalisation of Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales (YPF), in which Repsol, a Spanish energy group, has a majority shareholding.

In response, Spain launched a trade and diplomatic offensive against Argentina, rallying allies in Brussels and the G20 against the move to take over 51 per cent of YPF.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeSpainSouth AmericaArgentina

0 Comments
Posted April 18, 2012 at 9:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I fully intended to ignore Spain this week. Really, truly I did. I had my letter all planned, but then a few notes drew my attention, and the more I reflected on them, the more I realized that the inflection point that I thought the European Central Bank had pushed down the road for at least a year with their recent €1 trillion LTRO is now rushing toward us much faster than ECB President Mario Draghi had in mind when he launched his massive funding operation.

So, we simply must pay attention to what Spain has done this week – which, to my surprise, seems to have escaped the attention of the major media. What we will find may be considered a tipping point when the crisis is analyzed by some future historian. And then we'll get back to some additional details on the US employment situation, starting with a few rather shocking data points. What we'll see is that for most people in the US the employment level has not risen, even as overall employment is up by 2 million jobs since the end of the recession in 2009. And there are a few other interesting items. Are we really going to see 2 billion jobs disappear in the next 30 years?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Spain

0 Comments
Posted April 18, 2012 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a largely claustrophobic game at the Allianz Arena, Bayern Munich dramatically defeated Real Madrid 2-1 thanks to an 89th-minute strike by Mario Gomez, giving Jose Mourinho endless cause for concern heading into the second leg at the Bernabeu on April 25.

Many wondered how Real Madrid would handle its first truly top-class opponent in the Champions League knockout stages -- having sparred with CSKA Moscow and cruised past plucky APOEL in the round of 16 and quarterfinals -- and I suppose this dispiriting defeat gives us plenty of indication....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMenSports* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermanySpain

0 Comments
Posted April 17, 2012 at 4:54 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Is the euro crisis back with a vengeance, or do investors have a needless case of anxiety?

Until very recently, the gloom over the Continent had seemed to be lifting, with the conclusion of Greece’s second bailout and the calming effect on the financial sector of cheap loans from the European Central Bank. But last week’s jump in borrowing costs for Spain and Italy provided a clear signal that the euro’s problems are far from solved....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010ItalySpain

0 Comments
Posted April 16, 2012 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If I read my Twitter feed correctly, Jorg Asmussen, the German representative on the European Central Bank's executive board, thinks that the ECB has already played its part as far as saving the euro is concerned with last December's LTRO intervention; it's now up to national governments to complete the process, he says, by undertaking the necessary structural reform (Mr Asmussen has been speaking at the Institute for New Economic Thinking conference in Berlin).

As is becoming ever more common when it comes to euroland, it's a view which is quite at odds with the facts. True enough, the ECB's surprise liquidity operation did succeed in dousing the crisis, at least temporarily. A Lehman's style meltdown was averted. But the idea that the ECB can now sit back and let the politicians do the rest is surely deluded.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010GermanyItalySpain

1 Comments
Posted April 13, 2012 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Spanish reading public now has a very good grasp of the fundamental realities of EMU. This will have consequences. Spain is not on the fringes of the Balkans, terrified of being cast into Ottoman banishment. It is not a small country that can be pushed around for year after year.

How and when all this will end is anybody’s guess but I have suspected for a long time that Spain is the lynchpin of the system. The intellectual atmosphere has changed entirely. Politics must surely follow.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010GermanySpain

1 Comments
Posted April 12, 2012 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Spain's first general strike for 18 months has been well-supported, as citizens protest against the government's labour reforms and austerity plans.

Protests began early, with demonstrators clashing with police in several cities as they tried to disrupt buses and prevent lorries arriving at, or leaving, wholesale markets. Over 50 people were arrested, and a small number treated for injuries.

Unions say they were pleased with the turnout today. Transport links have been badly affected, with hundreds of flights cancelled, and trains and buses delayed.

Read it all and look at the pictures.

Update: There is more there as well.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Spain

0 Comments
Posted March 31, 2012 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy will unveil the most austere budget since before Spain’s return to democracy in 1978, risking a deeper recession in a bid to avoid succumbing to Europe’s debt crisis.

“There’s interest in seeing how they are going to manage this particular trick of cutting the budget so aggressively,” said Harvinder Sian, an interest-rate strategist at Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc in London, during a telephone interview. “The recession will be dramatic.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEuroEuropean Central BankTaxesThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Spain

0 Comments
Posted March 30, 2012 at 5:35 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With the highest unemployment rate in the European Union at 23 per cent and 50 per cent of young people out of work, Spain this week veered back to recession for the second time in two years.

The strike comes amid mounting international concern that Spain might become the next casualty of the eurozone debt crisis after Greece, Ireland and Portugal, which were all forced to accept financial rescue packages.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeSpain

0 Comments
Posted March 29, 2012 at 7:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Lionel Messi scored five goals, a Champions League record, as Barcelona thrashed Bayer Leverkusen 7-1 at the Camp Nou to win their last-16 tie 10-2 on aggregate.

Messi netted with two lobs, a fine low drive, a close-range finish and a long-range screamer to make history for the umpteenth time in his short career.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMenSports* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermanySpain

1 Comments
Posted March 7, 2012 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Watch it all--my oh my; KSH.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMenSports* International News & CommentaryEuropeSpain

5 Comments
Posted February 28, 2012 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...[Italian Prime Minister Mario] Monti's joint letter with twelve EU states last week calling for an end to self-defeating contraction marks a key moment in this crisis. If Francois Hollande is elected French president in May, the shift in Europe's balance of power will be complete. Germany will lose its stifling grip on EU policy machinery. The EMU bloc will start to tilt towards reflation at long last.

Whether it can come soon enough to avert a social explosion across Europe's arc of depression remains to be seen. Nor can such stimulus overcome the fundamental flaws of EMU since Germany is at an entirely place in the deform structure, with unemployment at 20-year lows of 5.5pc.

What is needed to save the South must endanger the North. Germany would overheat, pushing its inflation to 4pc or 5pc until Bild Zeitung erupts in Teutonic fury. It is impossible to reconcile the conflicting imperatives.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankHousing/Real Estate MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Spain

0 Comments
Posted February 27, 2012 at 5:36 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Judge eternal, throned in splendor, who gavest Juan de la Cruz strength of purpose and mystical faith that sustained him even through the dark night of the soul: Shed thy light on all who love thee, in unity with Jesus Christ our Savior; who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistorySpirituality/Prayer* International News & CommentaryEuropeSpain

1 Comments
Posted December 14, 2011 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Even as the euro zone hurtles towards a crash, most people are assuming that, in the end, European leaders will do whatever it takes to save the single currency. That is because the consequences of the euro’s destruction are so catastrophic that no sensible policymaker could stand by and let it happen.

A euro break-up would cause a global bust worse even than the one in 2008-09. The world’s most financially integrated region would be ripped apart by defaults, bank failures and the imposition of capital controls....The euro zone could shatter into different pieces, or a large block in the north and a fragmented south. Amid the recriminations and broken treaties after the failure of the European Union’s biggest economic project, wild currency swings between those in the core and those in the periphery would almost certainly bring the single market to a shuddering halt. The survival of the EU itself would be in doubt.

Yet the threat of a disaster does not always stop it from happening. The chances of the euro zone being smashed apart have risen alarmingly, thanks to financial panic, a rapidly weakening economic outlook and pigheaded brinkmanship. The odds of a safe landing are dwindling fast.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankStock MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--IrelandEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermanyGreeceItalyPortugalSpain

1 Comments
Posted November 26, 2011 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Banks clamored for emergency funds from the European Central Bank on Tuesday, borrowing the most since early 2009 in a clear sign that the euro region’s financial institutions are having trouble obtaining credit at reasonable rates on the open market.

Indebted governments among the 17 members of the European Union that use the euro are also finding it harder to borrow at affordable rates as investors lose confidence in their creditworthiness.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--IrelandEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermanyItalyPortugalSpain

0 Comments
Posted November 22, 2011 at 11:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Land in some parts of Spain is literally worthless, said Fernando Rodriguez de Acuna Martinez, a consultant at Madrid- based adviser R.R. de Acuna & Asociados. More than a third of Spain’s land stock is in urban developments far from city centers. About 43% of unsold new homes are in these areas, known as ex-urbs, while 36% are in coastal locations built up during the real-estate boom.

“If you take into account population growth for these areas, there’s no demand for them, not now or in ten years,” he said. “Around 35% of Spain’s land stock is in the ex-urbs, which means it’s actually worth nothing.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate Market* International News & CommentaryEuropeSpain

1 Comments
Posted November 19, 2011 at 10:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Through heavy social spending and investments in major building projects, Spain is one country whose regional authorities have been living beyond their means and racking up large budget deficits. Those gaps were sustainable during boom times, but in the current economic climate, they threaten to push Spain toward a financial reckoning that could have consequences far beyond its borders.

Regional overspending is likely to cause the central government in Madrid to miss its target of bringing the nation's overall deficit down to 6% of gross domestic product this year, considered crucial to maintain investor confidence. For that reduction to happen, Spain's 17 regional governments were told to post budget shortfalls amounting to no more than 1.3% of GDP, but they almost reached that level after just the first six months of the year.

"If the regions surpass their deficit limits, then they can send Spain as a whole off course," said Ismael Sanz, an analyst at King Juan Carlos University in Madrid.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Spain

0 Comments
Posted November 10, 2011 at 5:49 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Obama, at any rate, felt that they would have little value. Instead, he confronted the Germans in Cannes with a suggestion so radical that it alarmed both Merkel and Schäuble. To save the common currency, Obama proposed that the Europeans follow the example of the American Federal Reserve, which buys up almost unlimited amounts of US treasury bonds when necessary.

The Germans pointed out feebly that the ECB operates within a completely different tradition than the Fed, and that it also pursues a different mission. But it is becoming increasingly clear to Merkel and her finance minister that, in the end, only the ECB will be able to save the euro if the crisis continues to escalate. It is the only European fiscal policy institution capable of taking action, and it also comes equipped with unlimited firepower. It can never run out of money, because it can simply print new money when needed.

This is an approach Germany's representatives in the ECB council have strongly resisted....But how long can the Germans resist the pressure from other members?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--IrelandEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermanyGreeceItalyPortugalSpain

4 Comments
Posted November 9, 2011 at 6:37 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The 14th crisis summit in 21 months starts with a meeting of all 27 European Union leaders at 6 p.m. The real business gets under way at 7:15 p.m. when chiefs of the 10 non-euro nations depart, leaving the rest to hash out a strategy that they already say requires more work.

The cancellation of a finance ministers’ meeting to precede the summit underscored the holes in the plan. The finance chiefs will now meet at an as-yet undetermined time after the summit to complete its main elements, including safeguarding banks and writing down Greek debt, according to an EU official.

Global exasperation with Europe’s response is deepening, with politicians from Australia to North America prodding the euro area to get ahead of the crisis before it infects the world economy.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankG20 The Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--IrelandEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010GreeceItalyPortugalSpain

0 Comments
Posted October 26, 2011 at 6:12 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Just when the eurozone governments thought it could not get worse for Europe's single currency, it did.

Shell-shocked EU finance ministers meeting in Brussels on Saturday were already reeling from the worst Franco-German rift for over 20 years and a fractious failure to resolve the problems that have brought Greece, and the euro, close to the brink.

But then a new bombshell hit as a joint report by the EU and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned that, without a default, the Greek debt crisis alone could swallow the eurozone's entire €440 billion bailout fund - leaving nothing to spare to help the affected banks of Italy, Spain or France....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--IrelandEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermanyGreeceItalyPortugalSpain

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Posted October 22, 2011 at 5:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

EU ministers were wrangling on Saturday over bolstering their banks, with some officials saying broad agreement was nearing but others warning that Spain, Italy and Portugal were objecting because of concerns over the costs involved.

"There is 24 against three - Italy, Spain and Portugal," said one euro zone diplomat. "They think it's too expensive. They don't want to pay it."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010GreeceItalyPortugalSpain

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Posted October 22, 2011 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

L’Osservatore Romano (English, September 21) reprinted an essay, “God in Madrid,” by the Peruvian novelist and Nobel Prize winner, Mario Vargas Llosa, from the Spanish paper El País about the meaning of the papal visit....

[In the essay Llosa says that] contemporary culture is rather vapid, a kind of “light entertainment.” Within it is a “cabal of incomprehensible and arrogant experts, who have taken refuge in unintelligible jargon, light years from common mortals.” Culture has not replaced religion, particularly that religion originating in revelation....

Most human beings suspect that the answers need a “higher order” of existence to locate the center of their lives. Atheism’s self-satisfied defenders no longer stand on the solid ground they once assumed. Science itself is looking like it has to admit that the origin of the universe lies in some transcendent, extra-cosmic, intelligent source even to explain science....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPoetry & LiteratureReligion & CultureTeens / Youth* International News & CommentaryEuropeSpain* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Benedict XVIOther FaithsSecularism

1 Comments
Posted October 5, 2011 at 5:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The reserve powers would be well advised to pull out all the stops to save Europe and its banking system. Together they hold $10 trillion in foreign bonds. If they agreed to rotate just 4pc of these holdings ($400bn) into Spanish, Italian, and Belgian debt over the next two years, they could offer a soothing balm. None has yet risen to the challenge. It is `sauve qui peut', with no evidence of G20 leadership in sight.

Once again, the US has had to take charge. The multi-trillion package now taking shape for Euroland was largely concocted in Washington, in cahoots with the European Commission, and is being imposed on Germany by the full force of American diplomacy.

It is an ugly and twisted set of proposals, devised to accomodate Berlin's refusal to accept fiscal union, Eurobonds, and an EU treasury. But at least it is big.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankG20 The Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentFederal ReserveTreasury Secretary Timothy GeithnerForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--IrelandEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010GermanyGreeceItalySpain

1 Comments
Posted September 25, 2011 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Before the euro zone, individual countries issued bonds in their local currency and could print more of it, whether it be francs, lire or drachmas, if a crisis was making it difficult to pay off the loans.

Today, with the European Central Bank in charge of euros, governments in Athens, Rome and elsewhere no longer control the “printing press.” Yet even as individual governments lost the power to pay off debts by printing money, the politics and regulations of the euro zone encouraged banks, insurance companies and other financial firms to load up on government bonds — and countries to issue them.

The “persistence in sustaining risk-free status . . . has, in our view, directly contributed to the development and severity of recent market turmoil,” Achim Kassow, a member of the board of managing directors of Germany’s Commerzbank, wrote in a recent study of the bank rule for the European Parliament. “Both the course and the severity of the crisis can clearly be tied to incentives set by current regulation.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--IrelandEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermanyGreeceItalyPortugalSpain

0 Comments
Posted September 23, 2011 at 7:35 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mrs. [Angela] Merkel, 57, faces far-reaching decisions about how to deal definitively with the debt crisis in Europe and, more immediately, whether to allow Greece to default or even to leave the currency union. American officials fear that if she does not act more decisively, bank lending could freeze up and the result would be another sharp financial downturn on both sides of the Atlantic.

Fears of a worsening debt crisis slammed European stocks on Monday, especially shares of French banks, forcing the French government to declare its support for its three largest financial institutions. The turmoil added to worries that the Greek crisis would prove difficult to contain without more robust action from Germany and, ultimately, its taxpayers.

The project of European integration, which began in the difficult years after World War II, is also on the line. If Greece were forced to abandon the euro, as more and more voices on the German right are demanding, it would be a jarring setback for solidarity on the Continent.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--IrelandEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010GermanyGreeceItalyPortugalSpain

0 Comments
Posted September 14, 2011 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Financial turmoil in Europe is no longer a problem of small, peripheral economies like Greece. What’s under way right now is a full-scale market run on the much larger economies of Spain and Italy. At this point countries in crisis account for about a third of the euro area’s G.D.P., so the common European currency itself is under existential threat.

And all indications are that European leaders are unwilling even to acknowledge the nature of that threat, let alone deal with it effectively.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration PlanThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermanyGreeceItalySpain

5 Comments
Posted September 12, 2011 at 7:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“Evangelical Catholicism” is a term being used to capture the Catholic version of a 21st century politics of identity, reflecting the long-term historical transition in the West from Christianity as a culture-shaping majority to Christianity as a subculture, albeit a large and influential one. I define Evangelical Catholicism in terms of three pillars:
--A strong defense of traditional Catholic identity, meaning attachment to classic markers of Catholic thought (doctrinal orthodoxy) and Catholic practice (liturgical tradition, devotional life, and authority).
--Robust public proclamation of Catholic teaching, with the accent on Catholicism’s mission ad extra, transforming the culture in light of the Gospel, rather than ad intra, on internal church reform.
--Faith seen as a matter of personal choice rather than cultural inheritance, which among other things implies that in a highly secular culture, Catholic identity can never be taken for granted. It always has to be proven, defended, and made manifest.
Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchTeens / YouthYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryEuropeSpain* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Benedict XVI

5 Comments
Posted September 2, 2011 at 5:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

His first words to them after a welcoming address by the Archbishop of Madrid, Cardinal Ruoco Varela, were “I hope you were able to sleep a little last night”, to the young people’s applause. Then with the procession of bishops and priests to the sweeping white stage, upon which a simple altar was shaded by the outstretched branches of an artificial golden tree, the closing ceremony of this week of prayer, song, meditation and encounter begun.

“We cannot encounter Christ and not want to make him known to others.” Pope Benedict told them in his homily. “So do not keep Christ to yourselves!”. The entire homily was drawn from the Sunday Gospel, Mathew 16, from Christ’s question to the apostles: “But who do you say that I am?”.

“Faith is more than just empirical or historical facts; it is an ability to grasp the mystery of Christ’s person in all its depth”, he said. And then looking out on the horizon of young men and women, religious and lay, that extended before his gaze, the Pope said to them , “today Christ is asking you the same question”. “Respond to him with generosity and courage, as befits young hearts like your own”.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchTeens / Youth* International News & CommentaryEuropeSpain* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Benedict XVI* TheologyChristology

6 Comments
Posted August 23, 2011 at 4:37 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Greeted by hundreds of thousands of euphoric young Catholics gathered in the city to celebrate World Youth Day the Pontiff chose to highlight the difficulties facing young people in his first address of the four-day visit.

"Many young people look worriedly to the future, as they search for work, or because they have lost their job or because the one they have is precarious or uncertain," he said in a speech delivered in Spanish.

He arrived in recession-hit Spain – where unemployment is 20 per cent rising to above 40 per cent in the under 25s – with a thinly veiled attack on financial institutions.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomy* International News & CommentaryEuropeSpain* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

11 Comments
Posted August 18, 2011 at 1:47 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If the experience of previous ECB interventions is anything to go by it is only a matter of time until we see larger-scale ECB operations, potentially accompanied by a European Financial Stability Facility (and later European Stability Mechanism) bailout. This is how it happened in the cases of Ireland and Portugal. ECB measures have always been announced as ways to prevent further, more costly rescue packages. The strategy never worked because in the end we got both. It won’t work this time, either.

It is remarkable how far the ECB has now moved from its initial Bundesbank-like philosophy of independence and monetary stability. These were not just soap-box oratories but supposedly law. The EU Treaty defines the ECB’s role very clearly: “The primary objective of the European System of Central Banks [the ECB and eurozone central banks] shall be to maintain price stability.” And the ECB “shall be independent in the exercise of its powers and in the management of its finances. Union institutions, bodies, offices and agencies and the governments of the Member States shall respect that independence.” If only!

Maybe the ECB somehow manages to conform to the letter of the law. It certainly doesn’t to its spirit....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankStock Market* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010ItalySpain

0 Comments
Posted August 10, 2011 at 6:49 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A half-hearted approach by the EBC will achieve little. Even full-blown "shock and awe" will only buy time. That's because the real instability stems from fears euro-zone governments will impose losses on those holding individual country bonds if debts prove unsustainable. Those fears are mounting as the growth outlook deteriorates. Italy's announcement of new austerity measures Friday may help address concerns over the deficit but could actually worsen the short-term challenge of growth.

That's why the second part of the crisis resolution requires a vast expansion of the euro zone's bailout facilities and most likely a move by European countries to guarantee European Financial Stability Facility's bonds, effectively turning them into genuine euro-zone bonds.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--IrelandEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010GreeceItalyPortugalSpain

0 Comments
Posted August 7, 2011 at 11:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Professor Willem Buiter, Citigroup's chief economist, said the apparent ECB action was pointless. "The warped logic of intervening in two countries that don't need it is as strange as it gets."

Mr Buiter said Europe risks a disastrous chain of events and the worst financial collapse since the onset of the Great Depression unless Europe's central bank steps in with sufficient muscle to back-stop the system.

"The ECB has yet so show it understands that it is the only institution that can save Italy and Spain from fundamentally unwarranted defaults. Everybody is afraid and real money investors are dumping their holdings. The ECB must step in to cap the yields at 6pc or 6.5pc and put a floor under the market," he said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010ItalySpain

0 Comments
Posted August 4, 2011 at 11:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mohamed El-Erian, chief executive of the bond giant Pimco, said investors were selling risky assets like stocks “globally prompted by concerns about the weakening economic outlook, spreading contagion in Europe and insufficient policy responses.”

With Thursday’s dive, the three major American indexes had erased all of the gains made so far in 2011, with the S.&P. and Nasdaq markedly below the start of the year.

Read it all and take a look at this graph picture which says it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyEuroEuropean Central BankStock MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010GreeceItalyPortugalSpain

2 Comments
Posted August 4, 2011 at 3:24 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Debt-laden Italy is likely to default, but Spain might just avoid it, according to the British think tank, the Centre for Economics and Business Research.

With the countries weighed down by debt, the think tank modelled "good" and "bad" economic scenarios for both.

It found that Italy will not avoid default unless it sees an unlikely big jump in economic growth.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankStock MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010ItalySpain

1 Comments
Posted August 4, 2011 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...another type of contagion is causing concern: the risk of problems spreading to big banks, especially in Italy and Spain.

The growing vulnerability of the giant banks in these two countries is spurring investor fears that Europe’s latest bid to get a handle on its festering debt crisis, adopted just a few weeks ago, has come up short.

The banks own so many bonds issued by their home countries that they are being weakened as the value of those bonds falls, amid concerns that the cost of government borrowing could become too expensive for Italy and Spain to bear.

Now there are signs that these concerns are, in turn, making it harder and costlier for the banks to borrow money to finance their day-to-day operations, a troubling trend that, at the worst, could lead to liquidity problems.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankStock MarketThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010GreeceItalySpain

0 Comments
Posted August 3, 2011 at 11:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Investors continued to flee Italian and Spanish bonds Tuesday amid renewed concerns about the ability of Rome and Madrid to regain control of their finances in the face of sluggish growth and weakened administrations.

The Italian economy minister, Giulio Tremonti, called a meeting of the country’s financial authorities Tuesday to discuss the recent market turmoil, Reuters reported, citing an unidentified official. The Italian Treasury did not respond to calls seeking comment.

In Madrid, meanwhile, Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero delayed the start of a planned vacation to the southern region of Andalucia. Reuters quoted the secretary of state for communications as saying the prime minister wanted to “more closely monitor the evolution of the economic indicators.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010ItalySpain

0 Comments
Posted August 2, 2011 at 12:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Behind the paralysis in Washington and prevarication in Berlin lies a troubling thought. Political systems in thrall to 24-hour rolling news have lost the capacity to make difficult choices. Globalisation imposes wrenching change and simultaneously saps the ability of governments to adapt. Politicians find it easier to argue about taxing the rich or cutting Medicare and about central bank bond purchases versus default than to confront the consequences for western societies of the profound upheaval in the global economy.

So it is tempting to say all is lost – that a political and economic model built on western primacy is cracking under the strain of the shifting balance of international advantage. The American dream and European welfare state are bending to the competitive winds of globalisation.

Tempting but premature. It is too early to despair. What makes the crises in Washington and Europe so infuriating is the fact that, for all they demand hard decisions, they are susceptible to political solution. The missing ingredient is leadership.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermanyGreeceItalyPortugalSpain* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted July 22, 2011 at 11:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Five years ago, I was among those who argued that the probability of a collapse of the eurozone was close to zero. Last year, I wrote it was no longer trivial, but small. The odds have risen steadily since, not because of the crisis itself, but the political response. I now would put the odds of a break-up of the eurozone at 50:50. This is not because I doubt the pledge by the European Council to do whatever it takes to save the euro but because I fear it has left things too late. The council may be willing but it will not be able to deliver. As I argued last week, a eurozone bond is the only solution to the crisis. But this gets progressively more expensive, and politically less realistic, once bond spreads of large countries widen.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--IrelandEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermanyGreeceItalyPortugalSpain

0 Comments
Posted July 18, 2011 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The European debt crisis has entered “uncharted territory,” rekindling concern it will spread eastward through banking and trade links, according to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Italy’s Unicredit SpA (UCG) and Intesa Sanpaolo SpA (ISP), two of eastern Europe’s biggest lenders, fell to the lowest in more than two years July 11 as political infighting threatened to delay efforts to cut the budget deficit in the country with Europe’s largest debt burden. European leaders this week failed to agree on a new aid package for Greece.

“We are in uncharted territory,” Erik Berglof, chief economist at the London-based EBRD, which invests in eastern Europe and Central Asia, said in a July 12 interview. “The source of the contagion seems to be in worse shape.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankG20 The Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--IrelandEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010GreeceItalySpain

1 Comments
Posted July 15, 2011 at 6:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy has called an emergency meeting of top officials dealing with the euro zone debt crisis for Monday morning, reflecting concern that the crisis could spread to Italy, the region's third largest economy.

European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet will attend the meeting along with Jean-Claude Juncker, chairman of the region's finance ministers, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Olli Rehn, the economic and monetary affairs commissioner, three official sources told Reuters.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--IrelandEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010GreeceItalySpain

0 Comments
Posted July 10, 2011 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The reason a currency union needs a political union is simple. The centre has to have some way of stopping parts of the union from borrowing too much in the common currency at the common interest rate. If some borrow too much they are free riders on the backs of the more prudent areas.

If they go on borrowing too much they undermine the credit rating of the whole area, and force up the cost of borrowing for the prudent parts. To achieve discipline, the centre also needs to send subsidies and payments to the poorer parts, to compensate them for their inability to devalue to price themselves back into a competitive position.

Today the single currency system is suffering from the double stresses of too much borrowing by countries such as Greece and Portugal, who have spent too much and raised too little in tax, and from the need of countries like Ireland to bail out their overstretched banking systems....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--IrelandEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermanyGreecePortugalSpain

0 Comments
Posted July 3, 2011 at 5:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The European Union seems to have adopted a new rule: if a plan is not working, stick to it....But their strategy of denial—refusing to accept that Greece cannot pay its debts—has become untenable...

An orderly restructuring [for which the Economist advocates] would be risky. Doing it now would crystallise losses for banks and taxpayers across Europe. Nor would it, by itself, right Greece. The country’s economy is in deep recession and it is running a primary budget deficit (ie, before interest payments). Even if Greece restructures its debt and embraces the reforms demanded by the EU and IMF, it will need outside support for some years. That is bound to bring more fiscal-policy control from Brussels, turning the euro zone into a more politically integrated club. Even if that need not mean a superstate with its own finance ministry, the EU’s leaders have not started to explain the likely ramifications of all this to voters. But at least Greece and the markets would have a plan with a chance of working.

No matter what fictions they concoct this week, the euro zone’s leaders will sooner or later face a choice between three options: massive transfers to Greece that would infuriate other Europeans; a disorderly default that destabilises markets and threatens the European project; or an orderly debt restructuring. This last option would entail a long period of external support for Greece, greater political union and a debate about the institutions Europe would then need. But it is the best way out for Greece and the euro. That option will not be available for much longer. Europe’s leaders must grab it while they can.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--IrelandEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermanyGreecePortugalSpain

0 Comments
Posted June 25, 2011 at 9:22 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Investors are withdrawing cash from money market funds heavily exposed to short-term debt issued by European banks out of fear that a Greek default could spark contagion across the region’s financial sector.

At the same time there is increasing reluctance among US banks to lend to their European counterparts in the past two weeks because of growing worries over Greece, according to brokers and bank traders.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--IrelandEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermanyGreeceItalyPortugalSpain

1 Comments
Posted June 25, 2011 at 9:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Check it out.


Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--IrelandEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010GermanyGreeceItalyPortugalSpain

0 Comments
Posted June 25, 2011 at 8:54 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"We're Man United, we do what we want," sing their fans.

It is possible that Barcelona have their own anthem of a similar message. And if they do not, then they should get one. The Catalan magicians have confirmed their greatness by despatching Manchester United in untouchable style. Just as they did two years ago, England's finest team were pulled apart, and an even harsher footballing lesson was received. They can offer no excuses, and did not offer them. To be beaten by a team of this quality will register as no disgrace once the pain has healed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchSports* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEuropeSpain

2 Comments
Posted May 28, 2011 at 5:07 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...Here is something most people don't know about Barcelona: Unlike every other famous soccer team in the world that thrives on possession and ball control, they do something unique during matches. They run as if their bikini briefs are on fire.

According to Stats Inc., which tracks the distance each player travels in a match, Barcelona's players have covered 627,366 meters of turf during their six Champions League knockout-round matches, or about 390 miles. Its opponents, meanwhile, have run 611,120 meters or 380 miles, about 3% less, which is significant considering they are all chasing the same ball...

On its face, this makes absolutely no sense....[so how could it be true?]

The answer to the riddle is that for all the superlatives lobbed at Barcelona for its artistry with the ball, its central weapon, and perhaps its defining strength, is what happens when the other team does get its cleats on the ball....

The answer to the riddle is that for all the superlatives lobbed at Barcelona for its artistry with the ball, its central weapon, and perhaps its defining strength, is what happens when the other team does get its cleats on the ball....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchSports* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEuropeSpain

0 Comments
Posted May 27, 2011 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

....for Mr. Jallow and for many others who arrived before them, often after days at sea without food or water, Europe has offered hardships they never imagined. These days Mr. Jallow survives on two meals a day, mostly a leaden paste made from flour and oil, which he stirs with a branch.

“It keeps the hunger away,” he said.

The authorities estimate that there are perhaps 10,000 immigrants living in the woods in the southern Spanish province of Andalusia, a region known for its crops of strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, and there are thousands more migrants in areas that produce olives, oranges and vegetables. Most of them have stories that echo Mr. Jallow’s.

From the road, their encampments look like igloos tucked among the trees. Up close, the squalor is clear. Piles of garbage and flies are everywhere. Old clothes, stiff from dirt and rain, hang from branches.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomy* International News & CommentaryAfricaEuropeSpain

0 Comments
Posted May 26, 2011 at 6:21 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Carlos Álvarez, spokesman of a Dignified Life campaign being promoted by the ethicists, noted a "lack of protection" for both patients and doctors who oppose a directly-induced death.
For example, the group pointed out weaknesses in regard to regulation wording on sedation, which is presented as a right.
"To exact it as a right and to oblige the doctor to prescribe it might endanger the patient's life -- given that there are cases in which sedation is counter-indicated -- and, in any case, it obliges the professional to obey criteria that are foreign to professional ethics," the organization noted.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeSpain* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

1 Comments
Posted May 25, 2011 at 6:42 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Derek Halpenny at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ said probably the most worrying development for the euro was the surge in Italian government bond yields in response to S&P’s move.

He said: “Italy has the largest government bond market in the eurozone and continued rising yields there over the coming weeks would have a very destabilising impact on the eurozone debt markets.

“With the authorities still seemingly divided over how to proceed with the debt crisis there remains considerable short-term risks for the euro.”

Read it all.


Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010GreeceItalySpain

1 Comments
Posted May 23, 2011 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"There are a lot of people getting up in the morning and going to work and not getting paid," said Gayle Allard, a labor market expert at IE Business School in Madrid.

It's a phenomenon seen in eastern Europe as well, with workers in countries like Serbia, Bosnia, and Croatia waiting months, in some cases years, for a paycheck from cash-strapped employers. But Spain is one of Europe's richest countries, one with recent memories of a giddy economic boom — so the sight of workers toiling without pay will come as a deeper shock.

Experts say there's no way to tell how many Spaniards are in such straits. But they say the number is significant and could rise after local elections this month, when debt-ravaged local governments are expected to reveal even bigger budget woes. Thousands of small and midsize companies that employ people like Garcia rely on these governments for contracting work.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryEuropeSpain

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Posted May 19, 2011 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



My goodness!

Filed under: * Culture-WatchSports* International News & CommentaryEuropeSpain

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Posted April 28, 2011 at 6:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Portugal's admission that it will probably need a financial bailout raises a question that will shape the outcome of the euro zone's debt crisis: Is Spain next?

The cost of saving Spain, a €1.1 trillion ($1.56 trillion) economy, would dwarf previous bailouts and could test the financial strength of Europe as a whole.

But if Spain can continue to repair investors' trust, as in recent weeks, then Europe stands a chance of containing the debt crisis to three countries, Greece, Ireland and Portugal, whose combined economies are half the size of Spain's.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010PortugalSpain

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Posted March 25, 2011 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Moody's downgraded its credit rating on Spain Thursday, citing worries over the cost of the banking sector's restructuring and the government's ability to achieve its borrowing reduction targets.

The agency said it was reducing its rating by one notch to Aa2 and warned that a further downgrade could be in the offing if there are indications that Spain's fiscal targets will be missed and if the public debt ratio increases more rapidly than currently expected, or if the funding requirements for the so-called savings banks—the cajas—are greater than anticipated.

Though noting the government's resolve in dealing with its problems and that Spain's debt sustainability is not under threat, Moody's said that "Spain's substantial funding requirements—not only those of the sovereign, but also those of the regional governments and the banks—make the country susceptible to further episodes of funding stress."

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankHousing/Real Estate MarketThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryEuropeSpain

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Posted March 10, 2011 at 6:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Brussels has called for sweeping powers for regulators to seize failing EU banks, sack board members, and impose haircuts on senior bank debt, aiming to ensure that taxpayers are never again held hostage by high finance.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--IrelandEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010GreecePortugalSpain

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Posted January 7, 2011 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A better known real estate debacle is a sprawling development in Seseña, south of Madrid, one of Spain’s “ghost towns.” It sits in a desert surrounded by empty lots. Twelve whole blocks of brick apartment buildings, about 2,000 apartments, are empty; the rest, only partly occupied. Most of the ground floor commercial space is bricked up.

The boom and bust of Spain’s property sector is astonishing. Over a decade, land prices rose about 500 percent and developers built hundreds of thousands of units — about 800,000 in 2007 alone. Developments sprang up on the outskirts of cities ready to welcome many of the four million immigrants who had settled in Spain, many employed in construction.

At the same time, coastal villages were transformed into major residential areas for vacationing Spaniards and retired, sun-seeking northern Europeans. At its peak, the construction sector accounted for 12 percent of Spain’s gross domestic product, double the level in Britain or France.

But almost overnight, the market disappeared....

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankHousing/Real Estate MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Spain

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Posted December 19, 2010 at 5:27 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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