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Many of the town pages on Hot Costa are currently being updated to show the breakdown of the population in the town.

My local town of Cártama now shows that over 7% of the population are non-Spanish EU nationals. I can also see that there are 861 Brits, the highest number, and following up, 300 Romanians, with all the other nationalities a long way behind.

This is very useful information if you are planning to open some kind of nationality based business. Recently, a Dutch bar opened in a nearby town where there were 150 Dutch people. Doesn’t sound like the best place for a Dutch bar, but at least, if you have the information in front of you, you will know that you are going to have to get people from out of town, or visitors, as your core client base.

Hola amigos!

Well what a week to have been part of the European dream!.

Even Freddie Kruger walking down Elm Street would have got a warmer reception than the way the Greeks have been treated. The ongoing saga reminds me of 2 things:

1) When all the weedy kids in school ganged up on the really weedy kid…
2) When I use to cry and my mother promised to give me a smack so I had something to really cry about…

The 16 euro zone members who for the past 10 years have built the European dream on low productivity and high debt and appalling fiscal management have decided they have had enough and the Greeks are squarely to blame. On the face of it, yes the Greeks have completely mishandled their own affairs with a tax collection rate of only 30%, but they have done this under the eyes of their 15 European neighbours and they are not alone and will certainly not be the last to have their fiscal affairs laid out in full view of a global audience.

So what to do?

Well, as ever, the remaining Europeans will try to ignore the problem and hope it goes away. It won’t though. What is needed is for savage cuts in the Greek economy and…wait for it…..this bit you’re going to love:

Last Monday 70% of the Greek population backed the tough measures needed, on Thursday the other 30% went on strike, you couldn’t make it up… well, you could …. It’s known as the European dream.

The answer: Greece will not be allowed to go to the wall, the Euro will survive, you will see a large dose of European fudge, a bit of rule re-writing and then the finger pointed at someone else to blame for all their problems. Ironically what the euro zone needs is a much weaker currency and the Euro has only dropped a few cents on the back of these supposed apocalyptic events.

Deep budget cuts and a huge increase in productivity is also required…we wont get it.

Pass me the Ouzo……

Please feel free to contact me at keith.s@currenciesdirect.com and I will reply to all your questions promptly.

Visit us in our Spanish offices in Costa del Sol, Costa Almeria, S. Costa Blanca and N. Costa Blanca
Telephone: UK 0845 130 8148 • SPAIN 902 310 444 • Email: costadelsol@currenciesdirect.comwww.currenciesdirect.com

The UK economy has officially emerged from a deep recession, but is it really smooth sailing ahead now? With stronger than expected manufacturing figure released this week it would appear that there has been some effect of the Bank of England’s QE program, but the central bank is now faced with the issue of weaning the UK economy off of this artificial stimulus. Britain has exceeded expectation in areas like manufacturing and price are rising on the high street, but house prices and our services sector have yet to catch up with the levels of growth being experiences elsewhere, which means that the Bank of England cannot afford to loosen its grip on the weak pound just yet.

Some analysts have suggested that the only way the UK is to avoid a Greek or Spanish style economic crisis would be to increase income tax by 10%, VAT to 20% and the privatisation of the health service. Although there is always a threat of the double dip, it must be remembered that Greece and Spain had issues because of their ability to finance their debt. As the head of sovereign risk strategy at HSBC pointed out the cost of insuring a British government bond (gilt) means that there is ‘zero percent’ chance of Britain defaulting on her loans. Credit may be slow moving domestically, but internationally our debt is still an appealing investment.

Arguably the most important dates over the next two months will be 10th February and 15th March because on these days are scheduled for the Treasury’s Inflation Report Hearings. During these hearings the BOE Governor and several MPC members testify on inflation and the economic outlook before Parliament’s Treasury Committee. The hearings are a few hours in length and can create market volatility for the duration. Especially noted are the direct comments made about the currency markets; BOE MPC members vote on where to set the nation’s key interest rates and their public engagements are often used to drop subtle clues regarding future monetary policy, such as Quantative Easing.

If the MPC’s comments are more ‘hawkish’ than expected we would expect a positive improvement in the value of sterling. Hawks carefully monitor and control economic inflation through interest-rate adjustments and monetary-policy controls. In general, hawkish investors prefer higher interest rates in order to maintain reduced inflation. With inflation over 1% above the 2% target the hawks will vie for an increase in interest rates if consumer spending remains low, which would make investment in the UK and lending more appealing, but could stunt domestic borrowing because of an increase in costs to the consumer and therefore tighten up the property market.

Please feel free to contact me at keith.s@currenciesdirect.com and I will reply to all your questions promptly.

Visit us in our Spanish offices in Costa del Sol, Costa Almeria, S. Costa Blanca and N. Costa Blanca
Telephone: UK 0845 130 8148 • SPAIN 902 310 444 • Email: costadelsol@currenciesdirect.comwww.currenciesdirect.com

Hola amigos!

The release of the latest Consumer and Retail Price Indexes for December, the quarterly assessment of our economic growth (GDP) and the motivation behind the Bank of England’s monetary policy decisions at the start of January have all caused significant volatility for the pound versus the euro since the New Year, but have ultimately seen a gain for sterling. Price increases exceeded forecasts by 0.3% on both RPI and CPI, and despite a late surge in retail sales over the Christmas period it would appear that the UK economy is still the lame horse of the global recovery because of risk aversion and tighter regulation in the financial sector.

In the real economy, and as far as the figures are concerned, domestically we are crying out for more flexible lending from the banks, and this has kept both small businesses and important economic sectors from featuring prominently in the recovery. On 26 January preliminary GDP figures were released revealing that although Christmas and the cold snap are over, credit is still frozen, consumers are more cautious about frivolous spending and our dependency on financial services and liquidity has not changed.

The mid-month Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee Minutes showed a 9-0 vote in favour of an unchanged monetary policy. The tone was more positive than in December. Reference was made to the upturn in the global economy, which was largely Asian driven, although there was evidence of stronger US growth in the fourth quarter of 2009. At the beginning of January the Agents Summary of Business Conditions made reference to a very gradual improvement in business sentiment, in part due to a recovery in export demand, and it is this export demand that should drive the pound higher over the first half of 2010.

The number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in December 2009 was fewer than expected, which is encouraging news, but it did not translate into more spending by the newly employed consumer. An increase in prices, the level of unemployment and positive news from the Bank of England prompted the strengthening of the pound at the start of the month, but these key economic indicators do not add up to or convey the whole of our economy. The fact that the pound rallied just before GDP figures came out, and fell by over a cent shows that we are still in a very fragile position economically. Although sterling has the potential to push higher against the euro in February, we still run the risk of tripping up if Quantitative Easing is increased and the banks remain frigid.

With the early weeks of February seeing the release of a huge amount of potentially positive information, we could see the 1.1650 rate genuinely tested during February.

Hasta la proxima!

Please feel free to contact me at keith.s@currenciesdirect.com and I will reply to all your questions promptly.

Visit us in our Spanish offices in Costa del Sol, Costa Almeria, S. Costa Blanca and N. Costa Blanca
Telephone: UK 0845 130 8148 • SPAIN 902 310 444 • Email: costadelsol@currenciesdirect.comwww.currenciesdirect.com