surinenglish

Mark Nayler

A freelance journalist, Mark wrote for Spear's magazine and the New Statesman in London before relocating to Spain. In addition to his weekly finance column and features for SUR in English, he also writes on Spanish politics for The Spectator.

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recent published articles

18/10/2019 15:28

Opinion

Reality bites

Now, I'm all for being optimistic. I much prefer optimism, as a guiding principle in life, to pessimism - the grumbling, joyless expectation that the worst will always materialise, that people will always disappoint you. But there's a limit, somewher

11/10/2019 19:02

Opinion

Rash promises

In a TV interview on Wednesday, acting prime minister Pedro Sánchez promised to have a new budget approved by next March. It's a sensitive issue for the Socialist leader, as Spain's last general election was triggered by his inability to secure appro

07/10/2019 17:44

Opinion

Government... when?

In Madrid on Monday, acting Socialist prime minister Pedro Sánchez presented his party's new slogan ahead of the November 10th general election: "Government Now, Spain Now". Given that Spain's been without a fully-functioning administration since the

30/09/2019 14:42

Opinion

Open to revision

Last week saw Óscar Arce, director of economics at the Bank of Spain, give a press conference in which he explained some minuscule reductions in his growth forecasts for next year and 2021. In doing so, Arce specified domestic and external threats to

20/09/2019 10:45

Opinion

Set to repeat

Spain is headed for its fourth election in four years, after King Felipe VI declared this week that none of the country's major parties have enough parliamentary sway to form a government. It's not in the least surprising: the last national vote, hel

13/09/2019 14:57

Opinion

The price to pay

Freshly returned from his summer holiday, acting prime minister Pedro Sánchez is once again trying to woo potential ally Pablo Iglesias, leader of the leftist group Uindas Podemos (UP). As well as unveiling an ambitious 370-point policy plan this wee

13/09/2019 10:55

Opinion

A day of two halves

On Wednesday, Catalonia's annual Diada (national day) saw around 600,000 people take to the streets of Barcelona to show their support for the region's independence movement. That statistic - substantially smaller than in previous years - can be used

30/08/2019 15:23

Opinion

Doom and gloom

In the second quarter of this year, Spain's GDP expanded by 0.5% rather than the 0.6% predicted by the Spanish government. Does that depress you? Is your life going to be affected, in any meaningful way, by the fact that the country's economy failed

23/08/2019 13:15

Opinion

Difficult questions

Europe's latest immigration crisis was resolved this week, with the Open Arms rescue boat docking on the Italian island of Lampedusa after twenty days at sea. Italy's public prosecutor, Luigi Patronaggio, finally overrode the country's interior minis

16/08/2019 15:09

Opinion

What to do?

I wrote here last week that acting prime minister Pedro Sánchez seemed to be the only Spanish politician willing to work through the summer to resolve Spain's political deadlock. I spoke too soon, because on Saturday the PSOE leader headed to Huelva'

09/08/2019 16:03

Opinion

Happy holidays

Given how quiet everything's gone in Spain over the last week or so, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the country's political deadlock had been broken and a new administration installed. But nothing of the sort has happened. On Monday, acting prim

02/08/2019 12:30

Opinion

How do I look?

You've got Brexit, and we've got THIS." So said the owner of my local bar last week as he pointed to the TV, which was showing hypnotisingly dull footage of Pedro Sánchez's investiture vote. As each of the 350 deputies rose to say "Yes" or "No", I re

26/07/2019 16:57

Opinion

Deal with it

We now know that Pablo Iglesias' Unidas Podemos (UP) didn't support Pedro Sánchez's Socialists (the PSOE) in Thursday's second investiture vote. The two party leaders have been trying to form a coalition government ever since April 29th's inconclusiv

12/07/2019 14:58

Opinion

Home or away?

The esoteric game of musical chairs within EU and international organisations continued this week, with European finance ministers gathering in Brussels to discuss the next head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). According to the Washington-ba

05/07/2019 13:39

Opinion

High-flying

"Spain is back." So said Spain's acting prime minister Pedro Sánchez this week, regarding the prospect of Josep Borrell becoming the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Sánchez had been hoping that the caretaking foreign

28/06/2019 15:51

Opinion

Business as usual

Political uncertainty continues to reign supreme in Spain, but the economic effects have so far been minimal to non-existent. In fact, so unconcerned is the Bank of Spain about the current - and very familiar - governmental vacuum that it's raised it

21/06/2019 16:13

Opinion

The waiting game

When the EU removed Spain from its Excessive Debt Procedure (EDP) at the beginning of this month, it thereby deemed the country to be economically sound after a decade of hardship. But Brussels still has a wary eye on what's happening over here, and

15/06/2019 16:55

Opinion

Ghost towns

I recently walked a several hundred-kilometre Camino de Santiago, from Zamora in Castilla y León to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. It was obvious when I crossed over into Galicia, and not just because of the cows and the greenery: I passed throug

07/06/2019 17:06

Opinion

Mind the gap

The recent wealth-mapping of Spain carried out by the country's National Statistics Institute (INE) revealed few surprises: as is normally the case, the most affluent areas are all in or around Madrid and Barcelona, while the poorest are in the south

31/05/2019 14:08

Opinion

First things first

Following his victory in the European elections last Sunday (his second electoral triumph in a month), Pedro Sánchez has set his sights on increasing Spain's influence in Brussels. This has always been one of the Socialist leader's driving aims, but

03/05/2019 16:13

Opinion

A difference of degree

Pedro Sánchez has strengthened his grip on power, upping the Socialist PSOE's number of seats in Congreso from 84 to 123 in last Sunday's general election. It was a deserved win for the PSOE leader, who had vowed to keep far-right newcomer Vox out of

25/04/2019 20:20

Opinion

Public enemy number one?

According to Popular Party (PP) leader Pablo Casado, Spain's prime minister Pedro Sánchez represents a "public danger" to his country. Ciudadanos' Albert Rivera is in agreement, saying this week that it has become a "national emergency" that Sánchez

22/03/2019 17:42

Opinion

A big deal

The Bank of Spain has been trying to predict the effect that the UK's withdrawal from the EU will have on the Spanish economy. Such a task is far from straightforward, not least because it remains uncertain what kind of Brexit, if any, will occur (Th

15/03/2019 17:32

LifeStyle

Malaga's own mini Camino de Santiago

The path starts opposite the Día supermarket, on the main drag - an unlikely place to begin walking a section of one of the world's greatest pilgrimages. A newish-looking sign directed me uphill to the edge of the village and within ten minutes I was

15/03/2019 12:49

Opinion

Double standards

Vox might be the new kid on the block in Spain, but there's something very familiar about its shameless double-standards. Because the far-right party gained twelve seats in the Andalusian parliament last December, it is now a beneficiary of just unde

08/03/2019 11:59

Opinion

Something in the way

This week saw Luis Garicano, an economic advisor for Ciudadanos, announcing that the centrist party will impose tighter regulations on corporations if it gains a share of power on April 28th. "We have been very concerned that many sectors in Spain ha

01/03/2019 14:27

Opinion

Spelling it out

With an early general election due in two months' time, Spain's major political parties are reminding voters of what they stand for. Under the leadership of Pablo Casado, the Popular Party (PP) is being especially vocal. Driven by a fear of losing vo

22/02/2019 15:42

Opinion

Take a (back) seat

The date for Spain's second early general election in five years is now set for April 28th. Despite uncertainty surrounding the result, we can be sure of a couple of things: firstly, that the state of the Spanish economy won't be in the forefront of

15/02/2019 14:14

Opinion

Nobody wins

After the failure of Pedro Sánchez's proposed 2019 budget this week, Spain is heading for an early general election. It will be the third such vote in five years, a period that has been marked by political uncertainty and the increasingly toxic issue

08/02/2019 16:55

Opinion

Collateral damage

Once again, the stubbornness of the Catalan independence movement is on full display. This week, two of the region's separatist groups - the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) and the Catalan European Democratic Party (PDeCAT) - announced that they w

01/02/2019 18:29

Opinion

Figuring it out

The statistics are in and, on the face of it, 2018 was a good year for Spain: the country's economy expanded at a rate of 2.5%, slower than the 3% posted over the last three years but still ahead of the eurozone average. It's a figure that leads us t

25/01/2019 13:47

Opinion

Left-leaning

For the last few years, leftist party Podemos has been a fairly dependable ally of Pedro Sánchez's Socialists. But there are signs that that is changing: it's as if, with regional elections due across Spain this spring, Pablo Iglesias' party wants to

18/01/2019 16:36

Opinion

Minority status

There is one glaring similarity between the governments of Spain and the UK at the moment, in that both are having a hard time getting anything done. Theresa May's defeat in the so-called Meaningful Vote on Tuesday was the most emphatic in British pa

11/01/2019 17:04

Opinion

No pain, no gain

As the parliamentary vote on Pedro Sánchez's proposed 2019 budget nears (it's likely to happen this month or next), details are emerging about an ambitious project of the prime minister's. Called the "Agenda for Change", the initiative contains a raf

04/01/2019 16:48

Opinion

Which direction?

Here in Andalucía, the political landscape is undergoing seismic changes. Following the region's elections on 2 December in which the incumbent Socialists (the PSOE) took a heavy hit, Ciudadanos and the Popular Party (PP) made a deal which saw them t

28/12/2018 13:28

Opinion

Prepared for the worst

As we prepare to enter the "Year of Brexit", it was heartening to hear this week that the Spanish government are being proactive in this respect. Anticipating the worst possible scenario come March 30th - namely, that the UK leaves the EU without an

28/12/2018 10:14

LifeStyle

Gerald Brenan's Yegen, a century on

English writer and Hispanophile Gerald Brenan moved into the Andalusian village of Yegen in January 1920. Brenan, then 25, had been demobilised from the British Army and had come to Spain searching for a tranquil spot in which to read and write. This

14/12/2018 15:15

Opinion

In two minds

This week, Pedro Sánchez confirmed a bumper increase of 22 per cent in Spain's minimum wage from January, from 736 euros per month to 900 euros. It's a proposal made, in part, to please leftist Catalan separatist parties, who say that they won't supp

07/12/2018 15:01

Opinion

What if?

The success of far-right Vox and centre-right Ciudadanos in the Andalusian elections on Sunday has given Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez an idea. Although his party, the Socialist PSOE, has lost control of a region it has dominated for decades,

01/12/2018 13:56

Opinion

Held to account

First came a long period of apparent immunity from justice, but now Rodrigo Rato is being held to account. On Monday, the former Spanish economy minister and IMF boss appeared in Spain's High Court in connection with allegations of fraud, falsifying

23/11/2018 17:38

Opinion

Put it to a vote

As was inevitable, Spain's proposed 2019 budget has failed its first major test with EU officials. Despite the Socialist government's belief that the spending plan's more relaxed deficit-reduction targets didn't pose a problem, the EU Commission said

19/11/2018 17:01

Opinion

Unbelievable

According to a new survey commissioned by El País newspaper, most Spaniards are expecting another economic crisis within the next five years. The poll revealed that 81.7% of Spanish people believe that Spain will experience another downturn before 20

16/11/2018 16:37

LifeStyle

Family cooking in a Malaga farmhouse

We arrive in Malaga during a monsoon. As I hurry, crouched and swearing from the bus station to our meeting point, people take shelter anywhere they can, caught off-guard by the heavy rain. Soon, the central nerve of Alameda Principal is a miniature

09/11/2018 15:10

Opinion

Above the law?

Spain's Supreme Court can't make up its mind about who should pay a mortgage stamp duty known as the Impuesto sobre Actos Jurídicos Documentados (AJD). In a mid-October ruling that reversed 20 years of jurisprudence, the Court ruled that banks should

02/11/2018 14:53

Opinion

Misplaced optimism

Spain's "glass-half-full" economy minister Nadia Calviño is convinced that her government's new budget will be passed, despite it needing support from hostile quarters in congress. Speaking to CNBC this week, Calviño breezily declared, "I don't think

26/10/2018 17:24

Opinion

Running over budget?

Pablo Casado, president of Spain's corruption-scarred Popular Party (PP), has made his first attack on the Socialists' proposed 2019 budget. In an interview with the UK's Financial Times this week, the Conservative leader said the spending plan outli

15/10/2018 16:14

Opinion

Deal or no deal

Not even the Spanish government works during bank holidays. As we enjoy this "puente", it's likely that the only occupants of Madrid's Palacio de las Cortes are junior politicians desperate to show their dedication - and even then, probably only unti

05/10/2018 14:51

Opinion

Going down

There was welcome and surprising news this week, in that Rodrigo Rato is definitely going to prison. Rato - former Spanish economy minister, deputy prime minister and ex IMF boss - has been sentenced to four-and-a-half years for using "black credit c

28/09/2018 17:44

LifeStyle

Picking up Spanish at the market

I meet Cristina Expósito in Seville on a sunny September morning, outside the Triana market. It's 10.30am and gearing up to be another hot day; locals bustle in and out of the market, catching up on gossip as they peruse meat, fish and vegetable stor

28/09/2018 15:20

Opinion

Risk v. reward

Does anyone care about growth forecasts pertaining to the Spanish economy? There was reason to ask that question once again this week, because the Bank of Spain has lowered its prediction for Spain's GDP expansion in 2018, from 2.7% to 2.6%. Although

21/09/2018 13:15

Opinion

Swap?

Spain is holding onto financial whistleblower Hervé Falciani for the time being. When he was arrested by Spanish police in April in Madrid, Falciani faced an extradition request from Swiss authorities on charges of "aggravated financial espionage". A

14/09/2018 17:09

Opinion

A precedented situation

Almost one year after a divisive referendum on Catalan independence, Catalans are once again calling for a split from Spain. On Tuesday, around a million people filled the streets of Barcelona to celebrate "La Diada", the region's commemorative day;

07/09/2018 16:18

Opinion

We're back, baby

Recent terrorist attacks aimed at tourists in Mediterranean destinations are not lingering in holidaymakers' memories, it seems. This July, Spain's foreign visitor levels fell for the first time since 2009, by 4.9%; though hardly enough to dent the c

31/08/2018 18:57

Opinion

Digging deep

Last Friday, the Socialist government of Pedro Sánchez approved a decree to exhume the remains of Francisco Franco from the controversial mausoleum near Madrid where he is buried. Franco - fascist ruler of Spain from the end of the Civil War in 1939

24/08/2018 18:09

Opinion

Let's talk

Judging by the reception he received on a visit to Barcelona last Friday, the Spanish king is now the most reviled public figure among Catalan separatists - a position previously occupied by Mariano Rajoy. Felipe VI was in the Catalonian capital to a

17/08/2018 18:56

Opinion

A man with a plan?

On Tuesday, Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez announced that Spain would take in 60 of the 141 migrants collected by a rescue ship off the Libyan coast last Friday; the remaining passengers will be split between Germany, France, Luxembourg and Por

03/08/2018 17:51

Opinion

Stumbling blocks

This week saw Pedro Sánchez, Spain's new Socialist prime minister, suffer his first legislative failure in congress - and it'll be the first of many if he doesn't adjust to the deal-based nature of modern Spanish politics. Parliament voted against Sá

27/07/2018 14:11

Opinion

A step to the right

In his first speech after being elected as PP president last Saturday, Casado showed himself to be concerned with social issues but said hardly anything about economics. This is in marked contrast not just to Rajoy, but also to his opposite number Pe

20/07/2018 14:53

Opinion

A taxing job ahead

Pedro Sánchez declared in congress on Tuesday that he intends to up pensions, introduce a minimum income for those in low-paid jobs, expand unemployment benefits and employ more public-sector workers. The PSOE leader - basking in the warmth of popula

06/07/2018 18:15

Opinion

Hey, small spender

According to Donald Trump, Spain is not spending enough money on defence. The US president wrote to the new Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez this week, informing him that the country needs to up its military budget to 2% of GDP, in accordance wit

29/06/2018 14:43

Opinion

Doing things by halves

Spain is losing patience with Theresa May's endless dithering over Brexit, and quite rightly too. Newly-appointed Spanish foreign minister, Josep Borrell, a former president of the EU parliament, announced at the latest EU summit this week that his c

22/06/2018 18:25

Opinion

Quid pro quo

Just three weeks into his premiership, Pedro Sánchez is already experiencing the fruitlessly "quid-pro-quo" nature of modern Spanish politics. And unsurprisingly, his first headache is being caused by the fraught issue of regional financing - somethi

08/06/2018 14:09

Opinion

In by the back door

No one asked for him, but Pedro Sánchez is the new Spanish prime minister. And since he outsted Mariano Rajoy in last Friday's political coup, the 46-year-old has wasted no time in assembling his new cabinet, naming EU high-flyer Nadia Calvino as Spa

25/05/2018 15:13

Opinion

Getting too comfortable

People don't like their politicians to be comfortable. They don't like [them] to have expenses and they don't like [them] being paid. They'd rather [they] lived in a f***ig cave." These colourfully expressed truths come from the Alastair Campbell-b

18/05/2018 14:22

Opinion

Relegated to third

Over the last few months, the popularity of the Spanish government has been steadily declining, but the most recent test of voters' intentions puts it in third place for the first time. According to a survey conducted by Metroscopia for El País, cent

17/05/2018 14:57

LifeStyle

Anyone for a beer bath?

I've never been much of a spa person. I get bored very quickly in baths and could always think of a million things I'd rather spend the money on (beer being one of them). But the prospect of visiting a Beer Spa was irresistible, especially one in my

11/05/2018 15:45

Opinion

Let's be realistic

It was reputedly Einstein who defined insanity as doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results each time - a definition that seems appropriate when applied to the more radical separatists in Catalonia. For the second time since D

07/05/2018 15:08

Opinion

Take a guess

Partly because of a slight slowdown in Q1 growth, the Spanish government announced this week that the pace of Spain's GDP expansion is going to decrease over the next three years. Year-on-year, the country's economy expanded by 2.9% in the first thre

27/04/2018 15:09

Opinion

Cooking the books

According to the Spanish Civil Guard, even more public money was unlawfully spent on last October's Catalonian independence referendum (1-O) than was at first estimated. Investigators now put the total amount at EUR1.9 million - an increase of EUR300,000

25/04/2018 19:53

Opinion

Show us the money

Who exactly paid for the independence referendum held in Catalonia on October 1st last year? This was the question raised by Spain's budget minister Cristóbal Montoro in an interview with the Spanish daily El Mundo on Monday. The Popular Party politi

13/04/2018 15:26

Opinion

A perfect storm

Is there no end to the woes of Spain's ruling Popular Party (PP)? It has emerged that Cristina Cifuentes, leader of the conservative PP in Madrid, obtained a master's degree from Rey Juan Carlos University (URCJ) under questionable circumstances. All

06/04/2018 14:34

Opinion

EU-crazy

EU-mad Romano Escolano, Spain's incoming economy minister, is already showing where his priorities lie. Even though his predecessor, Luis de Guindos, does not officially take up his position as vice president of the European Central Bank (ECB) until

23/03/2018 15:44

Opinion

Green is for "go"

Spain is throwing its toys out of the pram about Gibraltar again. This Monday, a deal between the EU and the UK concerning the terms of a 21-month transition period was almost agreed upon. But at the time of writing (Thursday morning) the deal has no

16/03/2018 13:59

Opinion

An unconvincing proposal

The precarious status of Mariano Rajoy's minority government was highlighted once again this week. In yet another attempt to pass the 2018 budget, the Spanish prime minister promised his opponents in congress that this year's spending plan could incl

02/03/2018 17:24

Opinion

An ongoing dispute

This week saw Spain have another crack at regaining some power in Gibraltar, thus making the latest contribution to an argument it's been having with Britain since the early 18th century. Spanish foreign minister Alfonso Dastis told the UK's Financia

23/02/2018 18:37

Opinion

It's all politics

The inevitable has finally occurred. On Monday, after months of machinations within the EU's most obscure institutions, Spain's economy minister Luis de Guindos was named as the next Vice President of the European Central Bank (ECB). The perpetually

16/02/2018 11:44

Opinion

In with the new

Mariano Rajoy's days as prime minister of Spain are, or should be, numbered. That is the conclusion to be drawn from the latest Metroscopia poll for the Spanish daily El País, which revealed that 85% of Spaniards want the Galician old-timer to give s

09/02/2018 16:49

Opinion

Board games

Spain's economy minister is going to be preoccupied over the next few months - but not with the Spanish economy. Or at least not principally with the Spanish economy. After months of elliptical statements and hints, Luis de Guindos finally announced

02/02/2018 12:22

Opinion

A rough deal

It's hardly been the most auspicious start to 2018. In what is surely a sign of things to come, Mariano Rajoy's minority government is once again having trouble securing approval for this year's budget. If this sounds all-too familiar, it's because l

26/01/2018 18:14

Opinion

Can you credit it?

Don't break open the champagne just yet. This week, the credit ratings agency Fitch promoted Spain up one level to its A grade, praising what it called the country's "strong, relatively broad-based, economic recovery". The upward revision constitutes

19/01/2018 14:16

Opinion

Forget about it

It has long been the Popular Party's (PP) mantra that it is the only competent steward of the Spanish economy, having overseen the country's steady recovery from recession over the last few years (or so it claims). But since last October, that messag

12/01/2018 17:17

Opinion

Anyone's guess

Just how concerned is the Spanish government about the potential cost of the Catalonia crisis to the rest of the country? One week it seems to be very worried indeed, yet the next it appears to shrug off the dangers, and nowhere is this more evident

05/01/2018 13:56

Opinion

Cost analysis

Estimates for the potential cost to Spain of the Catalonia crisis are like those of Brexit for the UK: in both cases, the figures are constantly changing, depending on what side of the argument they're coming from. The latest forecast regarding the C

29/12/2017 19:02

Opinion

Crisis? What crisis?

With every year that passes, Spain's macroeconomic expansion appears increasingly indifferent to the activities of Spanish politicians. Evidence for this was again provided by the Bank of Spain this week, when it announced that Spain's Q4 2017 GDP ex

22/12/2017 13:08

Opinion

No end in sight

I'm writing this column on Thursday, as Catalans vote for their next government in an election called for by Mariano Rajoy last month. In normal circumstances, it would be a tricky piece to write, because I know that these words will be published tom

15/12/2017 16:57

Opinion

Business-friendly

Exiled Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, it would seem, is not very commercially-minded. During October, the number of new businesses opening in Catalonia dropped by 14.3% compared to the same month last year. Existing companies are fleeing too: i

11/12/2017 18:06

Opinion

Unfair play

This week saw the Basque Country's president Iñigo Urkullu defending the region's special financial deal with Madrid. Known as the Cupo Vasco and hardwired into Spain's 1978 Constitution, this pact enables the northern region to collect its own taxes

04/12/2017 11:26

LifeStyle

Reality filtered through altered minds

Even though I finished reading this novel very late at night, I couldn't sleep for hours afterwards. The final, perplexing chapter had led me to question everything that preceded it; I wanted to trust the protagonist Elisa, but could I? Who was reall

01/12/2017 12:53

Opinion

A gentleman's agreement

Does the Spanish economy minister know something we don't? After a meeting with Accenture Strategy and El Economista newspaper this week, Luis de Guindos was asked who he reckons is likely to take up the soon-to-be-vacant position of Vice President o

25/11/2017 13:13

Opinion

Problem solving

The potential economic cost of the Catalonia issue has been discussed exhaustively since the illegal independence referendum on October 1st. The more constructive task now is trying to work out whether there is a solution to the economic aspect of th

17/11/2017 11:11

LifeStyle

A red pencil to sketch the memory of pain

Maria de Visitaçao is a newly-arrived prostitute in a Spanish brothel.By night, she deals with the "strenuous thrusts" of the smugglers who have taken over the contraband industry in nearby Fronteira, a town just over the border in Portugal; but by d

10/11/2017 15:28

Opinion

Hypothetically speaking

The Bank of Spain has released its first official estimates on the economic impact of the Catalonia crisis, and they're just as vague as you'd expect. The bank predicts that the recent turmoil seen in the north-eastern region of Spain could shave off

10/11/2017 15:23

LifeStyle

The dark side of escaping the daily routine

By his own admission, the narrator of this brilliant and dark novel is a "c***sucker". He is at the very bottom of a three-layered hierarchy that constitutes the world of work in Spain: at the top are the "Buddhas", who barely work but are unsackable

03/11/2017 14:59

Opinion

Sad and surreal

After the turmoil of the last month, it was refreshing to hear some entirely predictable news this week. Spain's National Institute of Statistics (INE) confirmed that the country's third-quarter growth was at 0.8%, slightly down from the 0.9% posted

03/11/2017 11:17

LifeStyle

Searching through memories of memories

On a bleak dawn in January 1939, three months before the end of Spain's devastating Civil War, a group of fifty Nationalist prisoners are lined up in the clearing of a forest near Collell monastery in northern Catalonia. Among them is Rafael Sanchez

27/10/2017 18:12

Opinion

In the dark

No one, absolutely no one, knows what's going to happen next in the Catalonia saga. That is the only real conclusion to be drawn from the last few weeks, during which the Spanish media has been entirely consumed with the possibility of the region's p

27/10/2017 12:26

LifeStyle

San Sebastián, sheer elegance

The elegant and wealthy city of San Sebastián sits on Spain's wild Basque coastline, twenty miles south west of the French border. It is a hugely popular holiday destination - particularly among Andalusians, who love its temperate climate and its gre

20/10/2017 17:30

Opinion

From bad to worse

Partly because it fears an economic hit from the Catalonian independence issue, the Spanish government has lowered its GDP growth forecast for Spain in 2018 from 2.6% to 2.3%. But it has not yet altered its projection of 3% growth for this year, even

13/10/2017 15:14

Opinion

Time-out

The economic reaction to Catalonia's illegal independence referendum two weeks ago has been somewhat confused - a fact mainly owed to the general chaos and unpredictability unleashed on October 1st. On Tuesday evening - much to the dismay of some

09/10/2017 13:14

Opinion

What now?

The markets are already registering the fallout from Sunday's shambolic and violent independence referendum in Catalonia. Shortly before 11am on Wednesday, Spain's benchmark index, the Ibex 35, dropped below 10,000 points for the first time since the

03/10/2017 18:50

Opinion

Only the beginning

It remains a mystery how Catalonia could split from Spain, even if a "yes" vote is returned in this Sunday's incendiary referendum. Even so, the region's business community is becoming nervous about possible effects of the protracted battle being fou

22/09/2017 11:41

Opinion

Going nuclear

The battle for Catalonian independence between Madrid and Barcelona is now being fought on two fronts. First there is the economic front, on which both sides are armed with figures apparently showing that secession would be a disaster for Catalonia,

15/09/2017 15:25

Opinion

Rewriting history

Annual predictions for Spain's GDP growth are changed several times a year by the Spanish government and various national and international economic bodies. That much we already know. But what we learnt this week was that the Spanish economy's perfor

11/09/2017 18:19

Opinion

Madrid versus Barcelona

On Wednesday evening, following a tense 11-hour debate, the Catalonian parliament voted by 72 to 52 in favour of an independence referendum on 1 October. An explosion of secessionist fervour followed, with regional president Carles Puigdemont leading

01/09/2017 17:33

Opinion

Risky business

The markets aren't taking the prospect of Catalonian secession seriously. That is the conclusion we can draw from this week's announcement by credit ratings agency DBRS that it is "very unlikely" it will change its rating for Spain if Catalans vote f

25/08/2017 17:42

Opinion

Withstanding the damage

Last Thursday afternoon, Barcelona and the Catalonian coastal town of Cambrils were hit by terrorist vehicle attacks that killed 15 people and injured over 100, fifteen of them gravely. These tragic events leave us to speculate about the combined imp

11/08/2017 17:51

Opinion

Losing touch

This week saw Mariano Rajoy issue his latest warning to the increasingly aggressive separatists in Catalonia. On Wednesday, he asked the regional government - headed by the fervent secessionist Carles Puigdemont - to act with "common sense" and to "i

04/08/2017 18:44

Opinion

Taking the credit

Spain appears to be on a roll. Second quarter economic growth, it was confirmed last Friday, was 0.9% of GDP, meaning that the Spanish economy has now returned to pre-crisis health. Unemployment is at its lowest level (17.1%) since 2009, with jobless

21/07/2017 16:53

Opinion

The magic number

Predictions for the growth rate of the Spanish economy this year have almost reached the magic number of 3.2% - the rate at which it expanded in 2016. On Tuesday, the IMF announced that the country's economic expansion will be 3.1% of GDP in 2017, th

03/07/2017 16:04

Opinion

A break from reality

Regardless of the economic and social problems Spain has endured over recent years, it has not lost its status as one of the world's tourism heavyweights. Every year, huge numbers of visitors from around the world come here seeking limitless sun, che

23/06/2017 14:27

Opinion

And the winner is...

This week saw the latest development in Spain's ongoing campaign for greater integration within the EU - or so a cynic could say. On Wednesday, it was announced that the EU has been awarded Spain's Princess of Asturias 2017 Concord Prize for maintain

19/06/2017 16:48

National

Come together

The Spanish economy minister has apparently turned into the EU's biggest fan. In an interview with the UK's Financial Times this week, Luis de Guindos said that the only way for the EU to survive in a post-Trump-Brexit world was to come closer togeth

13/06/2017 15:11

LifeStyle

In search of pure sources of feeling

When the English writer and Hispanophile Laurie Lee stepped off the boat and onto the harbour of Algeciras in November 1951, pandemonium greeted him. It was 15 years since Lee had been in Spain, but the seafront of this chaotic, dirty fishing village

12/06/2017 15:10

National

Message not received

One of the Popular Party's key messages to the Spanish electorate is that it is the only party fit to run the economy. This week, further proof of the PP's economic competence was offered - so Mariano Rajoy would say, anyway - by Bank of Spain govern

02/06/2017 15:19

Opinion

Weak foundations

The state of Spain's GDP has been much on the mind of Luis de Guindos this week. On Wednesday, during a debate in which the country's absurdly delayed 2017 budget was finally approved, the Spanish economy minister told congress that GDP growth might

26/05/2017 12:39

National

First things first

Pedro Sánchez is back. After eight months as a political outcast, the former Socialist leader once again took control of his party on Sunday, defeating establishment favourite Susana Diaz - head of the PSOE in Andalucía - in doing so. Some comment

19/05/2017 13:08

National

A tough sell

Spain's recently unveiled proposals for deeper integration within the eurozone highlight one of the 19-member bloc's fundamental problems - namely, that its most wealthy countries resent subsidising the poorer ones. In a paper submitted to the EU in

12/05/2017 11:47

Opinion

Slow progress

Though there must have been a sigh of relief in the Popular Party headquarters last Thursday, when Mariano Rajoy's 2017 budget narrowly survived defeat in a parliamentary vote, the Spanish prime minister would be wrong to think he thereby passed some

05/05/2017 12:07

Opinion

Read with Caution

For the Spanish economists I wrote about here last week, the phrase "official statistics" is little more than a synonym for "invented statistics" when it applies to Spain's economy. They will therefore be deeply sceptical of the latest "official" ind

21/04/2017 11:36

Opinion

Risk assessment

In its most recent tweak to global growth forecasts, the IMF has hiked Spain's projected GDP expansion for 2017 to 2.6%, up from 2.3% in January. Although very slight, the increase is an indication that the body's economists see no immediate threat t

12/04/2017 14:46

Opinion

Return to form

Economically speaking, it seems that Spain is firmly back on track. According to official statistics, the country's GDP will very soon rise above pre-crisis levels; in other words, Spain's economy is back to where it was in 2008, before the recession

11/04/2017 14:30

Opinion

Better late than never

Mariano Rajoy has finally presented 2017's budget, over half a year late. The political deadlock of 2016 is largely responsible for this delay, as is the fact that Rajoy now only commands a minority government. As a reflection of the prime minister's

31/03/2017 15:13

National

A prime candidate

The mini-scandal generated by Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem's claim that southern European countries squander EU funds on drinking and chasing women will soon be forgotten. Ignition of Article 50 this week is, after all, a slightly more imp

17/03/2017 15:41

Opinion

THE VICIOUS CIRCLE OF BREXIT

It doesn't happen often, but I recently agreed with something Mariano Rajoy said. Last Friday, the unflappable Spanish prime minister told reporters in Madrid that regarding the soon-to-commence process of the UK's withdrawal from the EU, "There is n

10/03/2017 19:36

Opinion

Let's not fight

At a conference organised by El País and Sabadell Bank on Monday, post-Brexit relations between Spain and the UK were discussed by a panel from Spanish media, business and politics. Spain, said some of these experts, can't afford to display hostility

03/03/2017 15:08

Opinion

Schrödinger's sentences

The outcome of one of Spain's highest-profile criminal trials is now known: Rodrigo Rato, former deputy prime minister and ex-head of the International Monetary Fund, is going to prison for four-and-a-half years after being found guilty of overseeing

24/02/2017 19:35

Opinion

Setting an example

Banks that are planning to move their London operations to EU cities as a result of Brexit are expected to choose their new locations within the next few months. The competition for this post-Brexit business among other major European cities is there

24/02/2017 18:38

Travel

Buda and Pest, shabby and chic

Over recent years Budapest has gained a reputation as one of Europe's most exciting and cultural cities. It is fully deserving of this unofficial accolade, and not just because of its gargantuan parliament building (the third largest in the world aft

17/02/2017 18:00

Opinion

Expecting the worst

In the first economic report it has released since Americans voted for Donald Trump last November, the EU Commission states that the soon-to-be-27 member bloc is "assailed by risks" and faces "large uncertainties". The threats posed to the EU's econo

16/02/2017 11:08

Opinion

Trying times

The soon-to-be-announced verdict in Rodrigo Rato's fraud trial is, for many Spaniards, imbued with a symbolic importance. Rato, former head of the International Monetary Fund and ex-deputy prime minister and economy minister in Mariano Rajoy's govern

03/02/2017 16:04

Opinion

Cause for concern?

There were no surprises this Monday, when Spain's National Statistics Institute (INE) released initial data on the country's economic performance in 2016. In the final quarter of last year, the Spanish economy posted growth of 0.7%; overall, it expan

27/01/2017 14:19

Opinion

Toeing the lines

Within the Spanish government there is clearly no official 'line' on Brexit. This became evident on Tuesday, when Rajoy told a press conference organised by the newspaper ABC that Brexit was a "serious threat" to Spain. When asked to elaborate he res

20/01/2017 17:16

Opinion

Let's be reasonable

It was a pleasant surprise this week to hear Spain's economy minister displaying common sense and pragmatism when asked about the latest Brexit news. Interviewed at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Wednesday (one of the cushiest tickets on the di

18/01/2017 17:08

Opinion

Great expectations

Ever the optimist, Spain's economy and industry minister has recently been hinting that the country's economic growth might exceed the predicted 3.2% for last year. That figure, it should be remembered, was already pretty positive: it's about twice t

17/01/2017 10:12

LifeStyle

The essence of old Andalucía

This series ends as it began, with the great poet and Hispanophile Laurie Lee. 'A Rose for Winter' is a love letter to Spain's most iconic region, written when Lee returned with his wife Kati, after a fifteen-year absence, for a three-month tour of "

17/01/2017 10:12

LifeStyle

A first taste of the land of his dreams

One bright June morning in 1934, aged 19, Laurie Lee left his quietly bereft mother standing alone in the garden of their Cotswolds home and started an epic, life-changing walk. This young English poet had no money and had never been abroad before; h

17/01/2017 10:12

LifeStyle

As far as you can go - and one step further

Jason Webster has written what is surely the most arresting opening sentence in recent travel literature, a sentence that forces difficult, searching questions upon you: "Often we end up doing what we almost want to do because we lack the courage to

17/01/2017 10:12

LifeStyle

A beloved country at war with itself

A central vein of disappointment and sadness runs through A Moment of War, Laurie Lee's unrelentingly bleak account of his experiences during the Spanish civil war. As I Walked Out One Midsummer's Morning - the conclusion of which is this book's begi

17/01/2017 10:12

Opinion

No news: good news?

It's not just because the English and Spanish press has been unable to talk of much except Donald Trump for the last week and a half that you've heard very little about Mariano Rajoy's new government. Three weeks have elapsed since the veteran Galici

17/01/2017 10:12

LifeStyle

A short-lived revolutionary idyll

George Orwell was lucky to make it out of Spain alive. By a mad irony only conceivable amidst the paranoia of war, the pro-revolutionary line of the organisation for which he had been fighting - the Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista (POUM: 'The

17/01/2017 10:12

LifeStyle

Life, death, love and war

The greatest books make you envious of those who have not yet read them, those who you know have a great experience still to come. For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway's Spanish civil war masterpiece and arguably his best novel, is one such book

17/01/2017 10:12

LifeStyle

Haunted by the past

Spain's political landscape is about to undergo titanic shifts. Last Sunday, the coalition of separatist parties in Catalonia, Together for Yes, won a majority in the region's parliamentary elections, and the imminent general election will see the do

17/01/2017 10:11

LifeStyle

A return to find poverty... and vitality

One couldn't wish for a better travel companion than Gerald Brenan. His honesty, curiosity, humour and deep knowledge of Spanish history are all on display in The Face of Spain, written after he and his wife, the American poet Gamel Woolsey, revisite

17/01/2017 10:11

LifeStyle

Emotions running high in Pamplona

It changed my life and made me want to write and explore the world." So says American bull runner and author Bill Hillman of the novel that put a small Spanish town and its annual bull-running fiesta well and truly on the world stage. In the minds

25/11/2016 16:40

National

Risk exposure

Spain's two biggest banks, BBVA and Santander, are already registering the effects of Brexit and Donald Trump's victory in the US election. And ironically, it's the global expansion plans that both these banks have pursued - and which enabled them to