Archive for December, 2009

 

December 17th, 2009

If you bank in Spain, your bank is probably ripping you off regarding bank charges for transfers. This week, we transferred some money between a Euro bank account in Spain to another Euro bank account in the UK and our bank charged us €63 for the privilege of doing so.

However, a quick phone call later and €62 of that transfer fee had been refunded. Here’s how to do the same with your bank.

In September of this year the European Commission passed regulation 924/2009 which states that charges for transactions offered by your bank have to be the same whether the payment is national or cross-border.

In our case, our bank charges €1 for national transfers, yet persists in applying a percentage based charge for international transfers.

We simply had to remind them of this EC regulation, and hey presto, we had been refunded.

If your bank is less willing to cooperate, you can dob them in to the Spanish national authority and make a formal complaint by emailing The Bank of Spain.

If that fails, you can also and ask the Bank of Spain to mediate a resolution to the problem.

More information about EC Regulation 924/2009 can be found at the European Commission website and Wikipedia.

Story by Martin Dell, Kyero.

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December 13th, 2009

Euribor 12 months, the interest rate normally used to calculate mortgage payments in Spain, fell 1 % in November to a new record low of 1.231 %. Euribor has now fallen for 14 consecutive months, and is 72 % lower than it was a year ago. As a consequence of the latest reduction in Euribor, repayments on a typical annually-resetting mortgage (140,000 euros, 25 years, Euribor + 0.5 %) will fall by around 240 Euros a month, or 2,800 euros a year.

Economic analysts expect Euribor to stay around current low levels in the months to come. Both Jean Claude Trichet, president of the ECB and Miguel Ángel Fernández Ordóñez, governor of the Bank of Spain, have said that current base rates are at the “appropriate level”.

The volume of new residential mortgages signed in September was 62,411, down 4.2 % compared to the same month last year. In value terms new residential mortgages were down 16 % to 7.3 billion euros.
The good news is the decline in new mortgage lending has been bottoming out in the last few months. It fell 31 % in June, 19 % in July, 7 % in August, and 4 % in September. If the trend continues new mortgage lending will soon be growing again year-on-year in volume terms. That will give some support to the housing market.

Story by Mark Stucklin

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December 13th, 2009

The Spanish house price index figures for November 2009 have just been released. See the graph and the table below for an up to date overview of the real estate market trend in Spain.

Spanish House Price Index - November 2009

As can be seen from the chart, price falls stabilised at around 10% in the first half of the year, and started shrinking from July onwards. On present trends prices will be rising again within a few months. Even the price of property on the coast is falling at a slower rate, narrowing to -8.9% in November, just above what it was a year ago (-8.5%). Coastal property prices have been hit the hardest thanks to the surplus of holiday homes for which there is little market in a recession.

The graph and table data represent the year-on-year evolution of Spanish property values. For example, if the value for August 2009 would be -3.9, then this means that average property prices in August 2009 are 3.9% lower than they were a year earlier, in August 2008.

The graph and table on this page contain up to date information for the past 13 months. For more information, please look at earlier monthly reports, or the historical overview since January 2001.

The graph and table data are based on actual property valuations, as established by one of Spain’s larget independent property valuation companies, Tinsa S.A. They are not based on asking prices or registered selling prices, nor on the statistics as provided by the Spanish Ministry of Housing, and are therefore considered to be the most acurate and reliable source for this kind of information.

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December 2nd, 2009

Once a star performer in Europe’s 11-year old monetary union, Spain has become the wayward laggard. Growth data last week showed the Spanish economy – hit badly by a property market collapse and soaring unemployment – stuck firmly in recession in the third quarter, while the eurozone as a whole grew 0.4 per cent. The rollercoaster ride might suggest the European Central Bank would have difficulty calibrating policy steps to suit Spain and the other 15 eurozone countries.

During the economic crisis, Miguel Fernández Ordóñez, Spain’s central bank governor since 2006, has rarely given interviews. Talking to the Financial Times in the library of the bank’s plush Madrid headquarters, he strikes a distinctly cautious tone, but his messages are not so different from those of his colleagues in Frankfurt.

After the collapse of Lehman Brothers investment bank last year, the ECB cut its main interest rate farther and faster than ever before, to a record low of 1 per cent. He hints this monetary policy stance will remain for some time. “It is clear that any increase in [interest] rates is off the screen. The markets do not expect any change before the second half of next year,” he says.

He agrees, however, that with financial markets normalising, the ECB’s governing council should plan to remove emergency support, such as offers of unlimited liquidity for up to one year. “My reasoning is that those measures were exceptional because the markets did not work well. When the markets are working well, we should take them away because otherwise the markets will never work perfectly, ever. Support should be exceptional.”

Jean-Claude Trichet, the ECB’s president, indicated this month that the “exit strategy” would start in December, with the ending of one-year liquidity offers.

But is Spain ready for the start of such an ECB strategy, given its weak growth prospects? “Well, it’s ready for recovery,” Mr Fernández Ordóñez replies, “because recovery in Europe is the best news for Spain.” Some 70 per cent of Spain’s exports go to the eurozone, he points out. His biggest concern is that Spain pushes harder to bring public finances under control and increase labour market flexibility.

From one perspective, eurozone membership acts as a straitjacket in a downturn because devaluation is not an option. Worse, the euro is strengthening. Mr Fernández Ordóñez does not see things that way, however. “Of course you are right that we cannot devalue, and what does it mean? This means that we have to do more structural reforms so that you have the advantages [similar to those] of devaluing.”

As such, he is happy to see Spanish consumer prices falling faster than elsewhere. “Deflation in the euro area would be a disaster. But if you don’t have deflation in the euro area and we have a negative inflation differential in Spain compared with the rest of the eurozone, that would be the best thing. Reducing prices and regaining competitiveness is what we have to do.”

Story from FT.com

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