A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘spain

[LINK] “Banking Enclave of Andorra Shaken by U.S. Accusations”

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Bloomberg’s Macarena Munoz depicts the effect on Andorra of accusations from the United States that some in its substantial banking sector are laundering money.

Juan Ovelar made a quick decision when he heard the U.S. government had accused his Andorran bank of money-laundering, and immediately withdrew most of his funds.

“I’m worried that everyone will do the same as I did and there will be a knock-on effect that could affect other banks,” said Ovelar, 27, a computer expert from Argentina, in an interview outside the headquarters of Banca Privada d’Andorra in the capital Andorra La Vella.

The U.S. Treasury named Banca Privada d’Andorra, the country’s fourth-largest bank, a “primary money-laundering concern” on March 10. That led to its seizure by Andorran authorities, the arrest of the chief executive officer and a run on customer funds at the lender’s Spanish unit.

The bank’s fate sent tremors through Andorra, a 181-square-mile (469 square-kilometer) Catalan-speaking microstate in the eastern Pyrenees with an economy based on skiing, tax-free shopping and banking. The scandal raises risks for its financial industry, which makes up almost a fifth of the 1.8 billion-euro ($2 billion) economy and is too big to be bailed out by the state, said Xavier Puig, a professor at Barcelona’s Universidad Pompeu Fabra.

Customers lined up at the bank’s branches to take out their money after it limited cash withdrawals to 2,500 euros a week, starting March 16. The bank’s new management, appointed by local regulators, imposed the limit after international banks severed credit lines, a person with knowledge of the situation said.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 25, 2015 at 11:00 pm

[LINK] “‘Ni Boisekoa naiz’: Keeping Basque alive in Idaho”

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Ryan Schuessler of Al Jazeera America depicts the efforts of many Americans of Basque descent, concentrated in (among other areas) Idaho, to keep fluency in the Basque language going.

Standing against the wall of the crowded Leku Ona (Good Place) bar, Dave Asumendi took a sip of his wine as he watched a group of young people dancing in circles, moving to the music of a band that kept switching between Basque folk songs and accordion-infused Johnny Cash tunes.

It was Thursday night on Boise’s Basque Block, a small stretch of Basque-American businesses and cafes in Idaho’s capital. Asumendi had just arrived from the intermediate Basque language course taught at the cultural center across the street.

“It’s always been a lifelong burn to learn the language,” he said.

Asumendi, whose grandparents immigrated to the United States from Spain, is one of the many Basque-Americans who have mobilized to learn their unique ancestral tongue, which now has fewer than 1 million speakers worldwide. In recent years, the autonomous Basque government in Spain has invested significantly in language education, looking to boost the number of Basque speakers in Spain and in Basque diaspora communities.

One of the least likely beneficiaries of that largesse has been Idaho, which hosts one of the most active and vibrant communities of Basque-Americans in the U.S. and one where many community members are dedicated to keeping the language going. There are Basque classes for all ages and abilities — often taught by teachers paid by the Basque regional government — and even a Basque immersion preschool, plus a Basque studies department at Boise State University.

Idaho has the highest percentage of Basque speakers in the U.S. and is home to five of the top nine counties where Basque is spoken. In two of those counties — Lincoln and Owyhee — Basque is the third-most-common language spoken in the home, after English and Spanish.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 25, 2015 at 10:58 pm

[DM] “Why Is Spain’s Population Loss An Economic Problem?”

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Demography Matters co-blogger Edward Hugh has posted there, and posted at A Fistful of Euros, an analysis of Spain’s economic future taking dire demographics into account. With high unemployment driving emigration, combined with a very low birth rate, Spain’s future seems challenged.

The most obvious result of having such a high level of unemployment over such a long period of time – Spain’s overall rate won’t be below 20% before 2017 at the earliest – is that people are steadily leaving the country in search of better opportunities elsewhere. Initially this new development was officially denied, and since there is little policy interest in the topic we still don’t have any adequate measure of just how many young educated Spaniards are now working outside their home country. Anecdotal evidence, however, backs the idea that the number is large and the phenomenon widespread. All too often articles in the popular press are misleading simply because journalists have no better data to work from than anyone else. On the other hand work like this from researchers at the Bank of Spain (Spain: From (massive) immigration to (vast) emigration? – 2013) only serves to illustrate how little we know, especially about movement among Spanish nationals.

On the other hand, when it comes to migration flows among non Spanish nationals we do have a lot better quality information due to the existence of the the municipal register electronic database. Everyone who wishes to be included in the health system needs to register with it (whether they are a regular or an irregular immigrant), and non Spanish nationals need to re-register with a certain frequency (so the authorities know if they leave).

More than an economic phenomenon, Spain’s property boom was a demographic one. Since births only just exceeded deaths, between 1980 and 2000 Spain’s population rose slowly, by just over 2 million people. Then between 2000 and 2009 it suddenly surged by 7 million. This was almost entirely due to immigration, with workers coming to the country from all over the globe attracted by the booming jobs market. Then in 2008 the boom came to an abrupt end, and unemployment went through the roof causing the trend to reverse. Since 2010 more people have left the country every year than have arrived, with the consequence that the population is now falling. Given that in 2015 the statistics office forecast that for the first time deaths will exceed births, it is most likely that this decline will continue and continue.

In fact the overall migration number – a net 251 thousand people emigrated in 2013 according to official data – only tells part of the story. The majority of young Spanish people working abroad are not included in these numbers (unless they have explicitly informed the Spanish authorities they are leaving, and few do this, partly because they do not consider themselves “emigrants”), but just as importantly the net balance masks very large movements in both directions. According to the national statistics office over half a million people (532 thousand to be precise) emigrated from Spain in 2013, while 285 thousand people entered the country as immigrants. So the net migration statistic covers over what are really very large flows.

The number of annual births in Spain has been steadily falling since the mid 1970s. They accelerated again slightly in the first years of this century, partly due to the shadow effect of an earlier boom in the 1970s, and partly because the incoming immigrants had a slightly higher birth rate. Coinciding with the outbreak of the crisis births peaked again in 2008 (after an initial peak in 1976 – ie 32 years later, average age at first childbirth is now just above 30) , and now the statistics office forecast a continuous decline.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 17, 2015 at 1:48 am

[LINK] “Independent Catalonia Would Have Investment Grade: Study”

Bloomberg’s Esteban Duarte reports on a study claiming that an independent Catalonia would be quite financially sound, at least so long as it stayed in the Eurozone.

Catalonia would recover its investment-grade credit rating if it reached an agreement on independence from Spain, according to study to be presented today by an economists’ group from the region.

The region’s government would merit an A+ rating, Standard & Poor’s fifth-highest grade, if it was released from its obligations to the rest of Spain, according to the study carried out by Joan Elias Boada, a former economist at La Caixa, Spain’s third-largest lender, and Joan Maria Mateu, a former finance director for southern Europe at German industrial company Weidmuller GmbH & Co. KG. That’s seven steps higher than the region’s current junk rating of BB, and would put it on a par with Israel and Korea.

“The credit rating of an independent Catalonia, consolidated as a new European state and a member of the European Union, would be logically even better,” Elias Boada and Mateu wrote in the study for the Col·legi d’Economistes de Catalunya.

Catalan President Artur Mas this month called regional elections for Sept. 27 as he seeks a mandate to negotiate a split from Spain. The region transfers about 8.5 billion euros ($9.7 billion), or 4.35 percent of its gross domestic product, per year to the rest of Spain, as tax collection exceeds the public-sector expenditure, according to a July study for the Spanish Budget Ministry.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 29, 2015 at 11:39 pm

[LINK] “Spain’s Partido Popular’s snide attacks on Catalan”

I can’t think of a precise equivalent to the politically-inspired separation between the Catalan of Catalonia and the Catalan of adjacent Spanish regions, as described critically in Open Democracy by Alessio Colonnelli. I will content myself by noting that, in a free society, this distinction can survive only if its speakers want it to survive.

Catalan (or subsequently referred to as Catalan-Valencian) isn’t among the magic EU 24. On its official web page, the European Commission says it “maintains the policy that all EU citizens have the right to access all EU documents in the official language of the Commission, and should be able to write to the Commission and receive a response in their own language.”

The 11.5 million-strong Catalan-Valencian language is regarded as a regional language; its status is hence hierarchically inferior. That’s not the result of EU shortsightedness, but the upshot of manoeuvering from Madrid.

Bureaucracy and political meddling of the eye-for-an-eye type are the cause of this. The cultural, linguistic and editorial weight of Catalan-Valencian has been brushed aside. A crime against diversity.

Whilst Dublin pushed Irish Gaelic through Brussels’ mesh, Madrid has craftily resorted to a loophole to keep Catalan-Valencian away from the Continent’s linguistic centre-stage. The Spanish political establishment has asked for Catalan-Valencian not to be included – Spain mustn’t be internationally identified with any other languages other than Spanish.

[. . .]

Gaelic is something Ireland is proud of. Catalan-Valencian is something Spain would gladly do without, like an embarrassing relative, the awkward one you don’t want to be associated with. A bit like a skeleton in the proverbial closet.

Catalan and Valencian are one and as one, it deserves space on Spain’s international stage. That way you’d avoid the painful and hurtful case for secession. You’d stop talking about independence. You’d stop setting up bogus referendums with no constitutional value. You’d unblock the national discourse and start talking about very serious matters concerning the country as a whole.

Podemos has set a good example; it’s stretched a compassionate and friendly hand to the idea of the Països Catalans, the age-old, controversial concept of The Catalan Countries, brilliantly depicted by Joan Fuster in his 1962 seminal work – Nosaltres, els Valencians (Us, the Valencians) – on the topic of Valencian and Catalan being really the same linguistic expression of one community, of one culture.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 22, 2015 at 11:42 pm

[DM] “On recent post-colonial immigration to Africa”

I’ve a post up noting how people immigrate to Africa these days.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 13, 2015 at 4:59 am

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • blogTO rates the top ten buildings built in Toronto over the past fifteen years.
  • Centauri Dreams looks at some of Kepler’s candidate exo-Earths.
  • The Cranky Sociologists applaud Howard Becker, sociologist of deviance.
  • Joe. My. God. notes an Italian court’s recognition of the citizenship of a foreign-born child of a same-sex Italian couple.
  • Language Hat notes a site promoting the Aborigine language of Yugambeh.
  • Language Log studies the problems of translating art language from Chinese to English.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money celebrates Kirby Delauter.
  • Personal Reflections reflects on upcoming elections in Queensland.
  • Peter Rukavina shares a link tracking electricity production and consumption on Prince Edward Island.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog maps the origin of Russian soldiers killed in the fighting in Ukraine.
  • Spacing Toronto looks at how, one day in Toronto, one railroad bridge was swapped with another.
  • Towleroad notes how a Texan man still hasn’t been charged with the murder of a lesbian couple including his own daughter after almost a year, and looks at a hate crime in Russia.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes the visit of El Sisi to a Coptic Christmas mass, the first time any Egyptian president made this visit.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests Russian policy towards Ukraine won’t change until Russia changes, reports certain statistics from the periphery of Russia, and looks at the role of Russian media in encouraging ethnic violence.
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