Pat’s Patch - Sun, sand and...depression!

I thought I would get away from it all last week by taking a cheapo, off season break in Spain but it’s even more depressing there than it is here, if that’s possible. Talk about sun, sand .....and depression.

The unemployment rate there is almost 25 per cent; the property market, like here, has totally collapsed; and the traditional saviour along the coast, tourism, has been badly hit because there is no money about.

Near Torrevieja a Spanish friend, a man who once had a thriving business, pointed to the fact that ten years ago no matter what time of the year it was there were crowds on the street with tourists eager to buy food, drink, souvenirs or whatever. As we stood in the sun talking he said, ‘Look, our street is empty’... and it was.

And the ‘Costa Blanca News’ had a report last week on the activities of the Spanish equivalent of Anglo Irish Bank, the CAM bank, which failed to carry out proper risk assements on projects presented to it. One example cited was a deal CAM made with a company called Grupo Nyesa in which the latter got 31.4m. euro for land in 2005 even though it had actually bought the land the year previous for just 1.3m. euro.

The Banco de Espana, the Spanish Central Bank, confirmed last week CAM had lost 1,011m. euro as a result of its failures to carry out proper checks.

Doesn’t it all sound so depressingly familiar?