Cynic in Spain

Real Life on the Costa del Sol

Don’t Crunch, Suck

After 50 years on the planet I’m finally ahead of the game.

As you may, or may not, have guessed from the title of this piece it’s going to be about the not so negative effects of the current credit crunch. Let me elaborate and perhaps illuminate.

As I write I am, for once, a happy chappie. Why, may you well ask? Well it’s for one simple reason, by and large the negative effects of ‘The Crunch’ have passed me by, I know I’m known to whinge about the dollar/euro exchange rate in private on a regular basis but this time even that has done me a favour.

Why is quite simple. You see, I have no mortgage, no property portfolio, no maxed out cards, no job to worry about. I don’t rely upon handouts (earned or not) from the UK government (or any other for that matter) from which to provide my daily bread, just a meagre but fixed and secure income from my own resources that suffices for my basic needs.
Lucky me? No I don’t think so, just, perhaps, a little more foresightful and a little bit more awake than others.

Oh, I could have gone with some dodgy Icelandic bank or a get rich quick Ponzi broker back in the halcyon days of the financial markets but, and here’s the trick, I didn’t, and for why? Because I used to work in the financial sector, that’s why. I know that for everyone making million dollar a year bonuses someone’s been very badly burned.

But enough of my circumstances, I know of many others here on the Costa that, whilst they may not have my income, are in a similar financial situation. These are the people who are generally, in low paying jobs and cannot afford to have mortgages or, for that matter, debts of any kind. They have struggled in a, and this is no exaggeration, hand to mouth existence for many a year as the cost of living has spiralled around them whilst their wages have not, I speak here, but not exclusively, of shop, bar and restaurant staff who have been reliant on the trade and tips from our ever decreasing yearly tourist invasion just to make ends meet.

So where are the benefits to us simple folk? Here follow just a few examples:

Houses that were selling for half a million can find no buyers at half that price. I recently saw a three bedroom villa out in the country selling for less than 70 thousand. But what is of most benefit to those on low incomes are apartments which were, 10 years ago, fetching 450 a month on the rental market and are now seeking tenants at 400. Even at that obvious discount there are few takers. The market is swamped. Indeed a good friend of mine is currently luxuriating in a three bedroom two bath palace at the princely cost of 50 euros a month more that the squalid one bedroom dive that he used to share. He even gets free internet access. So when you’re reading this Mike, say thank you to Messer’s Brown, Bush et al for making it possible.
Even those ubiquitous orange ‘bombas’ have come down in price to say nothing of a litre of petrol. Happy days indeed.

The cost of food and drink, especially my favourite (the price of a pint, if you couldn’t guess) has tumbled. Bars, restaurants and supermarkets along the coast are engaging in wars the like of which I’ve never seen in an effort to gain custom or even to retain that which they already had. Of course the outcome will be a bloody loss for many owners but at the moment the 1 euro pint and the 5 euro ‘Crisis Menu del Dia’ look here to stay.

And as for the ‘rebajas’ well they came early and like a welcome friend have stayed late, would you believe a pair of jeans for 7 euros! I appreciate that they were probably made in some far eastern sweatshop by child labour but never the less, I bought four pairs, in fact I’m wearing one pair as I write and very comfortable they are too. So what if they only last for six months, by my calculation that’s less than 4 cents a day for each pair, truly a bargain.
My wife was all for purchasing enough clothing to tide us over for the next five years until I pointed out the fact that, with all this cheap food and drink available, it was unlikely that we (note the husband/wife subtlety) would be able to fit into clothes that were bought today in five months time never mind years.

So that’s shelter, sustenance, and schmutter taken care off, but are there other somewhat less obvious benefits of The Crunch?

Indeed there are, I have noticed, during the months preceding the writing of this article, that there is one blight on our community that seems to have, like a tree without water, withered and died. I refer to, of course, that greater spotted or large mouthed scam artist more commonly known as a timeshare sales person or OPC. There are still the hardy few left, with their scratch cards and promises of nirvana, preying on the weak and innocent but by and large this fickle species has departed these shores for pastures east. I do so hope they like Dubai, having worked there myself they are more than welcome to it.

And in conclusion to this joyous piece I would like to say that I hope this ‘blip’ in western economics as taught a few people a well needed lesson. Boom and bust bodes badly for almost all but occasionally the less well off few can benefit from the ills caused by the uncontrolled greed of the many. I’m sure, unfortunately, that even so this is more by accident than design. Had there been some way to make those at the bottom of the ladder suffer as much as those further up you can bet your negative equity that the powers that be would have found it. So rejoice all you working poor, make hay while the sun shines and milk this economic climate for all it’s worth, for sure as eggs is eggs it won’t last for quite as long as we would like.

And when next you see that flash git, sans villa, BMW and trophy wife begging outside Mercadona for a crust, don’t treat him as he would have treated you, don’t turn your face, walk on by and mutter something obscene beneath your breath, what goes around come around after all, you only need to wait.

Oh, isn’t nice to write something positive for a change, could it be that all of my well know fire and brimstone has been reserved for another topic?

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