Spain Real Time Data Charts

Edward Hugh is only able to update this blog from time to time, but he does run a lively Twitter account with plenty of Spain related comment. He also maintains a collection of constantly updated Spain charts with short updates on a Storify dedicated page Spain's Economic Recovery - Glass Half Full or Glass Half Empty?

Friday, August 01, 2008

Are Migrants In Spain Now Working Twenty Hours A Day Just To Keep Their Homes?

Well, this is a claim Bloomberg are making today (they just don't seem to want to let up on Spain over at Bloomberg right now), and they have a video interview to back it up:

Immigrants like Fanny Palacios, drawn by Spain's once-booming construction and service industries, helped sustain the decade- long surge in house prices by scrimping and sometimes lying to qualify for mortgages. Now those last on the property ladder are losing the lives they built as the global credit shortage pushes interest rates higher. The single mother of two from Ecuador worked 12-hour night shifts caring for an elderly woman on top of her day job at a nursing home to meet her bank's deadline for 3,000 euros ($4,720) in mortgage arrears. "This is desperation," says Palacios, 30. "I have to pay whatever it takes. I won't let them take my home."

This is a typical TV interview, and is just as superficial as might be expected, and it is also obviously a case of the interviewee giving the interviewer what they wanted to hear, namely that there are a lot of migrants in Spain now struggling to pay their mortgages in situations which make default likely (you know, it's another part of their Spain IS Sub-Prime picture).

Possibly "Fanny" is exaggerating, but not necessarily by that much. A lot of migrants have bought flats, often with a view to renting to other migrants (who may themselves now be leaving). The locutorios in Barcelona are now full of "room to let" stickers, but there are ever fewer takers, as a whole business model steadily crumbles.

The Raval district of Barcelona, home to the largest Pakistani migrant population in Continental Europe ( ie outside the UK, possibly 10,000 strong), who have bought property extensively, is, according to the July survey of consultants Aguirre Newman, the district in Barcelona which has seen the sharpest declines in prices - 12% - over the last 12 months.

Also, I visited, with my colleague La Dona Arruinada, the Fondo district of Barelona recently, and here are some of the photos we took.

As you can see, Fondo is a district which grew during the strong waves of internal Spanish migration in the 60s and 70s. The main Spanish population remaining are now old (Los Abuelos), and the younger generations have sold and moved, to sattelite towns like Olesa de Montserrat, and those who have bought in their place are either migrants or those who rent to migrants.

The photos were taken on a Wednesday morning, and these Chinese construction workers evidently don't have a full order book at the moment.

So basically, I would say that the Bloomberg video is very much to the point, and one of my big queries is what is going to happen to the Ecuadorian and Columbian communities here, given that the men are mainly about to lose their jobs, while the women will largely continued to be needed, in jobs with low pay and long hours, but there will be work for them caring for Spain's rapidly growing elderly population.

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