Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Not too much going on, just the usual. Terrorist massacres in Iraq. Iran working on nuclear bombs. Starvation continues in Darfur along with civil war in the Congo. Big international news: French runoff election. One poll gives Sarko a 51-49 lead over Royal, which I don't buy, since he's going to sweep Paris and the countryside. The Virginia Tech furor has died down, and I think the global warming furor has peaked, too; people simply don't buy the disastermongering, and ordinary folks' resentment of Hollywood parlor pinkos all jumping aboard this new trend is causing a backlash. The story about Al Gore's energy-wasting house hurt him badly among Spanish public opinion, which now sees him as a typical American hypocrite--they think we're all hypocrites, of course. My response: Isn't everybody, especially Alec Baldwin?

Big news around here: Real estate companies took a serious hit on the stock market yesterday, losing between about 5% and 13% of their value, except for Astroc, which is down 66% in two weeks. Housing construction is a very important part of the Spanish economy, one of the sectors that is providing the most growth, and the big builders are down between 4% and 7%. The decline in real estate and construction shares carried over to the banks, with BBVA and BSCH, Spain's largest corporations, both down 3% on the day.

I seriously doubt there's going to be a crash either in the stock market as a whole or in housing prices, though; the Spanish economy is growing at about 4%, unemployment is dropping, and immigration is raising demand--remember that Spain has gained four million immigrants over the last six years. Interest rates are probably going to stay low, around 4%, says the Bank of Spain. The stats show housing prices are currently climbing by 7.5% a year, and the number of mortgages is growing by 18% a year. So a correction, probably, some people cashing in, sure, but no disaster. Of course, anyone who takes investment advice from me, a guy whose assets consist of a blender and a Cincinnati Reds cap, deserves to lose his money.

Ibex Salad has more; he calls Astroc an "overhyped minor player" and says that if there is a bubble, it's not in housing prices but in the share value of the real estate companies.

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