Posted: Wed May 18, 2011 10:23 pm Post subject: Spain's Troika straitjacket, Puerta del Sol=Tahrir Square
Spain's Tahrir Square
By Pablo Ouziel
Spain's people's movement has finally awoken, la Puerta del Sol in
Madrid is now the country's Tahrir Square, and the "Arab Spring' has
been joined by what is now bracing to become a long "European Summer'.
As people across the Arab world continue their popular struggle for
justice, peace and democracy, Spain's disillusioned citizens have
finally caught on with full force. Slow at first, hopeful that Spain's
dire economic conditions would magically correct themselves, the
Spanish street has finally understood that democratic and economic
justice and peace will not come from the pulpits of the country's
corrupt political elite.
Amidst local and regional election campaigns, with the banners of the
different political parties plastered across the country's streets,
people are saying "enough!' Disillusioned youth, unemployed,
pensioners, students, immigrants and other disenfranchised groups have
emulated their brothers in the Arab world and are now demanding a
voice -- demanding an opportunity to live with dignity.
As the country continues to explode economically, with unemployment
growing incessantly -- one in two young people unemployed across many
of the country's regions. With many in the crumbling middle class on
the verge of losing their homes while bankers profit from their loss
and the government uses citizen taxes to expand the military
industrial complex by going off to war; the people have grasped that
they only have each other if they are to rise from the debris of the
militarized political and economic nightmare in which they have found
Spain is finally re-embracing its radical past, its popular movements,
its anarcho-syndicalist traditions and its republican dreams. Crushed
by Generalissimo Francisco Franco seventy years ago, it seemed that
Spanish popular culture would never recover from the void left by a
rightwing dictatorship, which exterminated anyone with a dissenting
voice; but the 15th of May 2011, is the reminder to those in power
that Spanish direct democracy is still alive and has finally awaken.
In the 1970's a transition through pact, transformed Spain's
totalitarian structures into a representative democracy in which all
the economic structures remained intact. For the highly illiterate
generations of the time, marred in the reality of a poverty-stricken
country, the concessions made by the country's elite seemed something
worth celebrating. Nevertheless, as the decades passed, the state-
owned corporations were privatized robbing the nation of its
collective wealth, and the political scene crystallized into a pseudo-
democracy in which two large parties PP and PSOE marginalized truly
democratic alternatives. As this neoliberal political project
materialized, the discontent begun to resurface, but the fear mongers,
Spain's baby-boomers who had once fought for democracy, were quick to
remind the youth of the dangers of rebellion. For many decades in
Spain, the mantra was, "it is better to live as we are than to go back
to the totalitarianism of the past, and if you shake the system too
much, it will take away our hard-earned rights'. So the youth remained
silent, fearful of what could happen if they spoke, and the baby-
boomers in their content blamed the youth for their indifference.
According to them, it was the youth unwilling to work, which were
bringing the country to its knees. But the youth have stopped this
blame game, and aware of the true risks to their future are finally
enticing the whole country to mobilize.
A failed European project, with its borders quickly being reinstated,
a collapsing Euro currency, and the examples of Greece, Portugal and
Ireland are the reminders to those on the streets of what it is they
are fighting to disassociate themselves from, and of the freedoms they
are working towards. The economic and political project of the
country's elite has destroyed the economic dreams of whole generations
of naïve and apathetic Spaniards; it has left the country in the hands
of bond speculators and central bankers, and Spaniards will have to
pay that price. Nevertheless, the debt accumulated by the Spanish
family, has also earned it the education with which it can understand
what is going on, and through it Spanish people will liberate
themselves from the tyranny of their government.
What has begun in Madrid's Puerta del Sol and has been echoed in fifty-
two cities across the country is the crystallization of a popular
movement for freedom, which has no intention of fading away. The
people have no choice, either they take city squares as symbols of
their struggle, or their message is never heard. The government knows
this and that is why it has quickly responded by trying to disperse
the crowds with its repressive police force, but following some
arrests, the people are back with more strength.
A silent revolution has begun in Spain, a nonviolent revolution which
seeks democracy through democratic means, justice through just means,
and peace through peaceful means has finally captivated the
imagination of the Spanish people, and now there is no turning back.
The challenge ahead will be in keeping the collective spirit
nonviolent as the police force does everything in its power to
disintegrate the movement into a violent chaos that can justify its
repression. The popular movement will also have to be alert as the
bond speculators threaten the country with economic sanctions in order
to scare the population into submission, and a constructive program
will have to be articulated so that the movement can continue to
function whilst providing sustainable alternatives for a different
Hopefully an articulate steering committee will flourish soon from
amongst the crowds, which is capable of making clear and viable
demands that grab the imagination of the country and force the
political elite to comply. These are delicate times in Spain, if this
spontaneous nonviolent movement succeeds, Spain may welcome a brighter
future, if it fails, I fear violence will become the only option for
those in pain. What those outside of the country can do for Spain is
to echo the shouts of indignation coming from the country's streets.
So far both mainstream and progressive international media channels
have opted for silence. Let us hope this silence breaks.
Pablo Ouziel's articles and essays are available at pabloouziel.com[youtube][/youtube][youtube][/youtube]
Last edited by conspiracy analyst on Sun May 22, 2011 6:55 pm; edited 1 time in total
Spain: this is what working class revolt in 2011 looks like
Friday, 20 May 2011 22:00
Written by Alex Snowdon
Spanish people have taken to the streets in huge numbers with public squares occupied by protestors opposed to austerity and calling for real democracy. Alex Snowdon argues that this is the new shape of working class resistance
I've been looking at the extraordinary scenes in Madrid, via the live SolTV link. The mass movement seems to have swelled since its emergence on Sunday, in the capital and across Spain. It is both militant and massive.
One of the most useful things I've read about the background and development of the protests is this piece by Gemma Galdon Clavell.
The article explains that these protests are 'the immediate continuation of the May Day demonstrations that were organized independently of mainstream trade unions and parties and largely ignored by the media'.
It offers some longer-term background too, especially the movement opposed to the 'Sinde law' (which clamps down on illegal file-sharing), while pointing to the role of a Facebook group ('real Democracy Now') in catalysing the 'May 15 movement'.
The larger context is 'skyrocketing unemployment rates (45% registered youth unemployment), generalized cuts in health, education and wages, tax cuts for the rich and widespread political corruption'. None of this is being discussed or contested in mainstream political debate. There is a profound disconnection between the elite and the street. The article explains:
'Trapped in the tougher-than-you-on-crime race to the bottom, the gap between a population that hardly makes ends meet and sees banks and corporations get away with murder, and a political class that has built a wall of arrogance, incompetence, impunity and empty promises to keep the young, the unemployed and the evicted out has grown to reach seemingly unbridgeable proportions.'
The social democratic, or centre-left, Spanish government has presided over the unemployment, cuts and corruption. The entire political class is therefore the target of people's rage. It is therefore unsurprising that 'anti-politics' sentiment is widespread on the demonstrations, with contempt for all political parties. One useful account from Spain includes this observation:
'It is possible (in fact it is quite probable) that on 22nd May, when local and regional elections take place in Spain, the left will suffer a catastrophic defeat. If that were the case, it would be only be a preamble to what would happen in the general elections. What can be said today without hesitation is that the institutional left (parties and major unions) is the target of a generalised political disaffection due to its sheer inability come up with novel solutions to this crisis.'
However, this may not mean an automatic rejection of all things political. Gemma Galdon Clavell notes:
'as the #nolesvotes initiative shows, demonstrators have not given up on institutional politics -while the slogan in 2001 in Argentina was ‘que se vayan todos’ (get rid of them all), the #15m movement is giving non-mainstream parties a chance, and while claiming independence and autonomy, seems to be interested in building bridges with some parties.'
There is clearly a huge spontaneous element to the current upheavals, but there's also some background in the anti-Sinde law, May Day etc protests. Similarly, there's visceral anger with politicans but that doesn't mean absolutely no co-operation with any kind of political organisation. What happens next is highly unpredictable.
Social media have played their part - as we'd expect - and will continue to. But a radical idea only goes viral, and translates into mass protests and occupations, if it connects with large numbers of people's grievances. In the absence of any lead from established organisations - reformist parties, unions - a Facebook page and a Twitter hashtag can become detonators.
This popular working class revolt doesn't look how many would expect it to. The unions appear to be nowhere. At best they are lagging behind the mainly young people taking to the streets; at worst they are neutered by compromise with a failing centre-left government. It will be tempting for many protestors, and their supporters elsewhere, to conclude that spontaneity is all, organisation is irrelevant, and the unions should be ignored.
But that would be dangerous. The protestors will need to rapidly construct new, grassrooots, democratic forms of co-ordination and decision-making. They will have to demand the unions, which can still potentially mobilise millions, to get behind them.
The mass protests in Spain are an inspiration to everyone facing austerity and fed up with the hollowing out of democracy. The movement fuses economics and politics, just like in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere. It takes inspiration from the Arab Spring, while seeing itself as part of Europe-wide resistance to cuts. Spain's young workers, jobless and students are showing us the way.
Uploaded by AlJazeeraEnglish on May 22, 2011
In Spain's most politically conservative of cities, an unexpected and growing revolt - against the status quo, established political institutions, and against the old acceptance that nothing much will ever change.
The country's ruling party is facing growing anger over Spain's economic problems, and many people shunned the polls and chosen to protest instead.
Spain bailout protest: "We want to be Icelanders!"
By Bill Wilson -In April, the people of Iceland went to the polls, decisively rejecting a bailout of British and Dutch investors who lost billions in the Icesave bank in 2008. Iceland is the rare example of a nation that allowed its banks to fail in the wake of the financial crisis.
Now it appears to be an example for the whole world, and has inspired protests in Spain and Italy, a movement called M15. Some of the movement’s slogans include, “When we grow up we want to be Icelanders,” “don’t rescue the banks,” “let the culprits pay the crisis,” “banks rob us,” and “bipartisanship is dictatorship”.
While some in the media have characterized the movement as left-wing, it appears to be appealing to individuals across the political spectrum, young and old. One video promoting the movement spoke out against both of the majo..., the center-right Popular Party, and the leftist PSOE.
And dispelling the notion entirely, the group’s founding website, “Real Democracy Now,” articulates a b...: “Some of us consider ourselves progressive, others conservative. Some of us are believers, some not. Some of us have clearly defined ideologies, others are apolitical, but we are all concerned and angry about the political, economic, and social outlook which we see around us: corruption among politicians, businessmen, bankers, leaving us helpless, without a voice.”
This all sounds quite familiar. In this narrow sense, M15 appears to at least in part resemble America’s tea party movement. It’s a revolutionary sentiment that surpasses party factions.
These protesters, like the tea party, oppose efforts to bail out international banks that bet poorly on housing and sovereign debt. They also recognize — and oppose — the tyranny of the few that has emerged in the wake of the sovereign debt crisis where financial institutions refuse to take any losses on their bad investments.
Notably, the tea party has been noted for its opposition to the bailouts, whether it’s a Republican administration proposing them or a Democrat one. It was similar sentiment that knocked Republicans out of power in 2006 and 2008, only to put them back control of the House in 2010.
Similarly, in Spain, the unrest has now seen the socialists dealt a decisive loss in the May 22 regional elections to the Popular Party. Clearly, the center-right party was the beneficiary of the dour economic situation in Spain.
But, that victory will likely not be long-lasting if that party cannot follow through on its promises of reform. In Ireland, Fine Gail was catapulted back into power on the promise to end the bank bailouts. But after that nation’s central bank said they would need another €24 billion to stay afloat, Prime Minister Enda Kenny went back on his word and stepped in to prop up the banks, earning the enmity of the Irish people who oppose the bailouts.
In Finland, the True Finn Party achieved an historic 19 percent of the vote in the latest elections opposing bailouts of sovereigns like Portugal, Ireland, and Greece, rising from its relatively obscure 4 percent showing in the prior election.
Because of special rules in Finland that allow its parliament to vote on European Union decisions, the True Finns were in a unique position to stop the European Union €78 billion bailout of Portugal. That was because Social Democrats there had demanded that bondholders of Portuguese debt take losses in exchange for the bailout. Without their support, the deal was in doubt.
But, like Fine Gail in Ireland, the Social Democrats have now gone back on their word against bailing out Portugal and the banks that lent them billions. Now, the Finnish parliament has approved the bailout with the Social Democrats’ help, and the True Finns will likely benefit from this betrayal in future elections.
Here in America, as citizens attempt to persuade their leaders to regain control of the nation’s finances with a $14.3 trillion national debt, the largest in the world, they too have been frustrated at the apparent lack of progress made. They were promised $100 billion of spending cuts in 2011 by Republicans, only to see that reduced to $61 billion, and again reduced by a deal to cut $38.5 billion in spending authority that only resulted $352 million in net cuts for the year.
If Republicans cannot find a way to rein in the unbridled spending and borrowing in Washington — which benefits the same international banks that are so unpopular in Europe with hundreds of billions of dollars of interest payments — their newfound majority may not be long-lived.
They might learn a thing or two from the Icelandic revolution that is spreading throughout Europe. The primary lesson is to listen to the will of the people, or endure their wrath at the polls. Because the people are in charge, not the banks.
Bill Wilson is the President of Americans for Limited Government. You can follow Bill on Twitter at @BillWilsonALG.
_________________ 'Come and see the violence inherent in the system.
Help, help, I'm being repressed!'
“The more you tighten your grip, the more Star Systems will slip through your fingers.”
Uploaded by TransitionTownTotnes on Aug 2, 2011
An interview with Juan del Rio and Duncan Crowley from Transition Barcelona at the International Transition Network Conference, explaining what has been happening recently with the 15M movement in Spain.
_________________ 'Come and see the violence inherent in the system.
Help, help, I'm being repressed!'
“The more you tighten your grip, the more Star Systems will slip through your fingers.”
9:39pm UK, Sunday November 20, 2011
Spain's ruling Socialists have conceded defeat in the country's general election - with the conservative People's Party set to claim an absolute majority in parliament.
With 75% of votes counted the People's Party, led by Mariano Rajoy, had 187 seats in the 350-seat lower house of parliament.
Earlier exit polls had suggested the conservatives would claim an absolute majority.
Spaniards went to the polls on Sunday in the midst of the eurozone debt crisis.
Socialist prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero had announced his intention to stand down after the election following criticism for his handling of the country's economy.
Today Spain has elections and I feel shame every time I think of any of our most recent PMs who could barely speak English. Shame when the only thing I see on TV debates are reproaches and no solutions.
Journalist Macarena Muñoz Fajardo, in Madrid
But his handpicked successor Alfredo Rubalcaba was widely expected to lose to the veteran conservative, Mr Rajoy.
The election campaign was fought over Spain's parlous finances.
Unemployment stands at over 21%, the highest in the European Union, growth has stagnated and the collapse of the housing market has exposed worrying levels of private debt.
To make matters worse, the sovereign debt crisis in the eurozone has made it even more expensive for the Spanish government to raise money, with interest rates nearing the 7% barrier on 10-year government bonds.
The eurozone debt bomb has seen political fortunes tumbling across Europe.
In February, Ireland's prime minister Brian Cowen was the first to fall after a humiliating bailout, soon followed by Jose Socrates of Portugal.
More recently, Greece's prime minister George Papandreou went, as did Italy's Silvio Berlusconi - the biggest scalp of the crisis so far.
Prices will drop in some places until who knows where Spain’s zombie developers are finally about to die.
Spanish banks are pulling the plug on thousands of builders kept alive during the past five years even as they built almost nothing, said Mikel Echavarren, chief executive officer of Irea, a Madrid-based consulting firm that has advised on 22 billion euros (US$28.5 billion) of refinancing. The banks, forced by the government last year to set aside provisions for the developers, have no incentive to keep funding them.
“Banks have taken the hit, so extend and pretend is over,” said Echavarren. “There’s no motivation to refinance companies that aren’t viable, have no liquidity or possibility of future earnings so we’ll see a tsunami of developer bankruptcies in the next two years.”
The final collapse of an industry that accounted for as much as 18% of Spain’s growth amid the country’s decade-long real estate boom will add to unemployment, already at a record 26%, depress consumer spending needed to turn around the economy and push down the value of residential real estate that’s already dropped more than 30% since 2007, said Raj Badiani, an economist at IHS Global Insight in London.
While job losses in the construction industry continued in recent quarters, “they’ve been less severe than expected, given the scale of the real estate slump,” said Badiani. “With banks cutting financial life support to many developers living on borrowed time, we can expect an accelerated downward adjustment in employment levels.” Badiani estimates the jobless rate could climb to more than 27% this year and house prices will fall at least 50% from the peak by 2015.
More than half of the country’s 67,000 developers can be categorized as “zombies,” with liabilities that exceed their assets and only enough income to repay the interest on their loans
More than half of the country’s 67,000 developers can be categorized as “zombies,” with liabilities that exceed their assets and only enough income to repay the interest on their loans, according to R.R. de Acuna & Asociados, a real-estate consulting firm.
Reyal Urbis sought protection from creditors last month in the second-largest filing of its type ever in Spain after accumulating 3.6 billion euros of debt. Banks including Banco Santander SA and Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA lost interest in refinancing the company, which employs 420 people and had losses of 910 million euros, in 2012.
Renta Corporacion SA sought creditor protection Tuesday and will work with Sareb, the Spanish bad bank, following the decision. The Barcelona-based developer had net debt of about 160 million euros at the end of last year.
Spanish lenders, ordered last year to set aside provisions of 84 billion euros to cover anticipated real estate losses, have no incentive to keep unviable builders afloat after they’ve accounted for losses from 280 billion euros of their loans, according to Irea.
Only developers with sufficient rental income from commercial property to repay debt or those still building homes in areas where they can be sold at a profit will survive, said Echavarren, who estimates that between 5% and 10% of Spanish developers fall into those categories.
Since 2008, more than 19,000 real estate and construction companies, or 14% of the total, have gone out of business, according to Iberinform, a unit of credit insurer Credito y Caucion.
Inmobiliaria Colonial SA, Spain’s second-largest publicly traded developer, is about to start talks to review the terms of 3 billion euros of loans maturing next year, Spanish newspaper Expansion reported. Realia Business SA, the third-largest, has until March 27 to complete restructuring negotiations for 847 million euros of debt related to its residential real estate business.
Realia, which had rental income of 173 million euros in 2012 from its commercial real-estate assets in France and Spain, is the most “solid” of all the publicly traded real estate companies in Spain, according to Juan Jose Fernandez Figares, chief analyst at Link Securities in Madrid.
The company fell 0.6% to 81 cents at 3:06 p.m. in Madrid, down from 5.31 euros about five years ago.
Spokespeople for Colonial and Realia declined to comment on the debt talks when contacted by Bloomberg News.
Spain built 675,000 homes a year from 1997 to 2006, according to a report by a unit of Spanish savings bank Cajamar. That’s more than France, Germany and the U.K. combined. The frenzy resulted in a surplus of about 2 million empty homes that will take between seven and 13 years to absorb, according to Madrid-based property research firm R.R. de Acuna & Asociados.
The Development Ministry estimates there are around 700,000 new unsold homes in Spain and more than half of those are in coastal areas. The total number of empty homes in Spain is 3 million, according to a spokeswoman for the government who asked not to be identified by name.
At the peak of the real estate boom, Spain started work on 800,000 homes, and developers bought up enough land to develop five to 10 years of stock, according to Echavarren.
“Considering the range, there could be enough land for a maximum of 8 million homes and a minimum of 4 million,” Echavarren said, “Real demand is about 125,000 units per annum, so there’s a land bank to last for at least the next 30 years.”
A study published in November by the National Statistics Institute estimates Spain’s population will fall this year for the first time since 1981 as unemployed immigrants return home and Spaniards in search of work emigrate. The population will drop to 41.5 million in 2052 from 46.2 million now, according to the study.
Gross domestic product in Spain, the euro region’s fourth- largest economy, fell 0.8% in the fourth quarter from the previous three months, more than the 0.7% drop estimated on Jan. 30, the Madrid-based National Statistics Institute said on Feb. 28. It had declined 0.3% in the third quarter.
The recession is extending into the first quarter amid weak domestic demand, the Bank of Spain said Feb. 28 and the International Monetary Fund expects the economy to shrink about 1.5% this year, triple the contraction projected by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who says the economy will return to growth in the second half.
“Mortgage lending and demand for homes will never recover to the highs we saw,” said Juan Villen, head of mortgages for Idealista.com, Spain’s largest property website. “A few years ago an influx of immigrants and buoyant employment among Spaniards fuelled home sales, now everyone is leaving Spain and those left are unemployed or scared that they might become so.”
In the third quarter, home sales were down 71% from the peak in the second quarter of 2006, according to data from the Ministry of Public Works. Spanish banks granted 274,700 new mortgages in 2012, a drop of 80% from 2006, data from the National Statistics Institute shows.
Carles Vergara, a Barcelona-based professor of Financial Management at the IESE Business School, says banks can no longer justify rescuing real estate companies.
“If it had been done in 2008 or 2009 it would have been more aggressive, but the banks have being doing it little by little,” he said in a telephone interview. “You cannot bail out developers that took on too much risk. At the end of the day they have to pay the price.”
In the second quarter of 2009, lenders had 324.7 billion euros of developer loans on their books, Bank of Spain data shows. Around 150 billion euros of that has been transferred to banks, according to Echavarren who says the rest, which has been adequately provisioned for, will pass into the banking system over the next two years as lenders refuse to refinance. According to the latest available data from the regulator, banks had 280.2 billion euros of outstanding developer loans as of the end of September 2012.
Echavarren says the result will be an acceleration of the decline in home prices. Prices posted their biggest annual decline on record in the third quarter, falling 15.2%, the most since the measurement began in 2008, the National Statistics Institute in Madrid said Dec. 14. Prices have declined 36% from their April 2007 peak, according to real estate website Fotocasa.es and the IESE business school.
“Prices will drop in some places until who knows where,” Echavarren said. “When a bank manages real estate, they market homes by cutting prices and using financing agreements to sell.” Developers can’t compete with banks because they are limited to how far they can reduce the price of their properties, which are backed by debt and cannot offer vendor financing, he added.
Badiani says home prices will fall by at least 50% from peak to trough in late 2015 or early 2016. “The risks are still tilting to the downside, and banks engaging in panic property sales could push the final downward house price adjustment closer to 60%.”
Alberto Gallo, an analyst at Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc in London, said a further decline in home prices will have wider implications as more households will slip into negative equity and feel poorer, dragging consumption down further.
Household spending fell by 1.9% in 2012, almost double the rate of the previous year, according to the Bank of Spain. It may drop as much as 3% this year, according to Madrid-based consultancy firm Analistas Financieros Internacionales.
As for banks, taking yet more real estate onto their books will be “more a management problem than a provisioning problem,” Echavarren said, “Spanish banks are in good shape now when it comes to real estate write offs.”
The ruling PP Party, which took over in December 2011, passed a decree in February 2012 requiring banks to speed up recognition of losses on real estate by boosting provisions set aside for land to 80% from 31% and for unfinished developments to 65% from 27%. A second decree in May forced lenders to set aside more money for real estate loans classed as healthy.
Banks may still need further write downs because of ailing developers, according to Fernando Rodriguez de Acuna Martinez, a partner at Acuna & Asociados.
Joined: 30 Jul 2006 Posts: 3501 Location: East London
Posted: Sat Apr 05, 2014 1:46 pm Post subject:
I trust this will be OK on this thread, as it already encompasses Spain and Egypt. The following is a very good 20-minute video in Arabic, but if you press the 'EN' under the video, you get the English subtitles:
It is all about the illegal and unpayable debt landed on the people by unelected dictators, and clearly implicates the lenders as crooks, knowing to whom they were 'lending' and what effect it would have. _________________ 'And he (the devil) said to him: To thee will I give all this power, and the glory of them; for to me they are delivered, and to whom I will, I give them'. Luke IV 5-7.
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