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the economy: run aground and underground

Passos Coelho pede aos portugueses “boas ideias para o país”

Yesterday the Portuguese prime minister was asking for good ideas from the people, for the good of the country. He’s not specific about saving the economy, but obviously that’s where we should start.

“We are making important changes in Portugal and it is important that during this period, we can broaden and deepen the democratic debate and this can not happen without the participation of all citizens,” said the prime minister in a video of 90 seconds published today on the Facebook page “o meu movimento”.

Zombie Europe

Portugal’s problem, in short, is that it cannot afford the repayments on its IMF debt. The EU policy of demanding growth and increasing employment while balancing the budget is simply more than the government can handle. The failure of this policy is being called “Zombification” by this economics blogger, in which nations “can’t grow out of their debts yet aren’t being allowed to fail on them either.”

Portugal is on life support, fed artificially by the IMF but kept in a coma by the EU conditions. Is the solution to let Portugal’s euro-based economy die and rebuild “from the ashes”? Do we return to the escudo?

The prognosis looks bleak.

Greece lines up Portugal

“This year Portugal enters its third year under a bailout and this year is expected to be the toughest with more tax hikes and the elimination of two months of pay for civil servants. The government is already calling for a economic contraction of 3%, but a look at the latest stats from the central bank suggest much worse.”

and

Portugal’s economic mess worsens

As Portugal’s economy deteriorates, a second bailout, Greek-style debt restructuring or even exodus from the euro zone loom as possibilities. “Not only will a second aid package be required, but the recognition that a debt restructuring may be necessary is increasing,” Marc Chandler, chief currency strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman, said in a Jan. 24 report.

Almost all of Portugal’s key economic indicators are going in the wrong direction. Unemployment is climbing relentlessly. The national jobless rate is 13.2 per cent and the youth unemployment rate, at almost 31 per cent, is the euro zone’s fourth highest.”

Commentators are not just worried for Portugal per se, but concerned about the complete collapse of the euro and the shockwaves that would cause in their own economies.

Portugal’s borrowing rates rise to record 19.4%

New high arrives amid fears that bailed-out country will not be able to break free of financial crisis

The worsening crisis in the eurozone has hit the British economy, and analysts fear that the contagion from Greece may spread throughout the eurozone and drag Britain and the rest of the world into a prolonged recession.

Although this article suggests that Portugal may not be able to avoid defaulting on its loan, it recognises that there is an effort being made to restore fiscal health and therefore it may not be so difficult for Portugal to renegotiate the bailout deal. The government so far has denied it would try. The government is in denial.

The same point of view, this time from the American perspective:

Portugal Suffers as Loss of Confidence in Bonds Sends Yields Higher

Investors fled out of bonds of weaker European countries on Monday, sending yields on Portuguese government bonds to a record high over concerns that the euro zone debt troubles were spreading beyond Greece.

The higher yields means that the Portuguese government has to pay significantly more interest than, for instance, Spain, whose yields on 10-year bonds were around 4.98 percent on Monday.

Portugal, which is in a recession and has been lowered to junk grade by ratings agencies, has less debt than Greece but there was still a growing belief that the country would have to ask for a bigger bailout than initially expected.

But other analysts noted that Portugal was in far better shape economically than Greece. It has 100 percent debt-to-gross domestic product ratio compared with a ratio of about 160 percent for Greece, said Charles Diebel, head of market strategy at Lloyds Banking in London.

“To a degree, yes, Portugal’s in trouble,” Mr. Diebel said. “But the problems there are nothing like in Greece.”

So things are not all that bad, compared to Greece. Why, exactly?

A Bluffing Game

The Greek economy is not productive enough to generate growth. Aside from olive oil, textiles and a few chemicals, there are hardly any Greek products suitable for export. On the contrary, Greece is dependent on food imports to feed its population.

According to a study by the German Institute for Economic Research, a key cause of the problem is the relatively poor price/performance ratio. In Mediterranean tourism, (for example) Greece has to compete with non-euro countries like Croatia, Tunisia, Morocco, Bulgaria and Turkey, which can offer their services at significantly lower prices. The per-hour wage in the hospitality industry was recently measured at €11.39 in Greece, as compared with only €8.49 in Portugal, €4 in Turkey and as little as €1.55 in Bulgaria. The study arrives at grim conclusions, noting that the drastic austerity programs will not only remain ineffective, but will also stigmatize the country as “Europe’s problem child” for a long time to come.

Portugal’s problem is not that it is uncompetitive or unproductive. Portugal’s problem is its lack of growth. It is stifled by an internal fiscal policy that cripples medium sized business with beaurocracy,  punishes entrepreneurship and small business with taxes and allows corruption and cronyism in big business to run rife. The mother stymie of them all is 23% IVA, a tax which keeps mums and dads from spending and fails as substantial government revenue.

Here’s why. I encourage you to follow the link and read the whole article. It describes the reality of the failure of the Portuguese economy. The Portuguese will not riot on the streets as the Greeks have. Theirs is a quiet revolution, another carnation revolution, through civil disobedience and non-compliance.

Portugal: Going Underground in Hard Times

The underground economy in Portugal is booming thanks to the steep increases in taxation and prices demanded by a ‘troika’ of international creditors to address the country’s economic crisis. 

Sheer survival instinct among those most affected by the austerity measures is driving them further into the parallel economy, which according to recent official figures amounted to 24.8 percent of GDP in 2010.And it is continuing to grow, owing to the severe economic crisis from which there seems to be no way out, a study from the Faculty of Economics of the University of Porto concludes. There are still no statistics for 2011, but economists who have analysed the situation and made their findings public concur that the informal economy grew last year, and is expected to grow again in 2012.

The rise of the informal economy mirrors the ongoing decline of the formal economy, amid rumours of a probable new tax hike that has still not been confirmed or denied by the right wing government of Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho.Rising prices, taxes, social security contributions and unemployment, along with cuts in social benefits and health care, are the main drivers behind the flight to the underground economy.

Activities in the parallel economy are not registered in the statistics tracking the country’s wealth. One-quarter of economic production is left out of Portugal’s GDP, which is nominally 223.7 billion dollars a year, says the University of Porto study, released this month.

The underground economy generates more than 52.6 billion dollars a year – half the amount of the international troika’s bailout plan.

Portugal has the third largest underground economy relative to GDP in the EU, after Italy and Greece. What all three countries have in common, and helps to explain the state of their economies, is high indirect taxation, high direct taxes on consumption and high unemployment, the study says. 

In 1970, when the first studies were done on the black economy, its activities had a value of 9.3 percent of GDP. By 2010 it had grown to 24.8 percent of GDP.

My message to you, Peter Rabbit.

First, reduce the debt. Renegotiate the bailout deal. Sell the submarines (€500 million) and freeze defence spending (€2 billion-ish – all governments in recession should do it). Install 1000 speed cameras on the roads (cost €20 million, annual revenue €20 million)

Then reduce IVA by 10% and introduce mandatory tax compliance and auditing by a new centralised finanças body: start with big business. Legislate to make hearings and penalties for tax avoidance immediate and severe. Create incentives & tax breaks for the self employed and small business. Create a grant scheme for medium business to take on employees.

Fundamentally, what this country needs is an active Ombudsman and an ongoing war against corruption and conflicts of interest. Royal Commission/Committee style investigations into the Police force, the Judiciary and local government should result in a cleanout of the protectionist, unethical and ultimately obsolete modus operandi which binds Portugal to its past and to a development stalemate.

 

 

 

 

38 Comments

  1. Helder February 2, 2012 12:35 am Reply

    I do SAY – Emma for President, or at least, minister of Finances.

    🙂

    Actually when looking behind the smokescreens perpetuated by most politicians – things are much simpler then expected.
    A simple approach as Yours to economics is What I have felt has been need for a long time in the economies of our time.

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  2. Sami February 2, 2012 2:09 am Reply

    I totally agree with you, the GST (iva) should be drastically reduced and everyone scrutinized to make sure they all pay their dues. Too many people try to avoid paying taxes and that hurts everybody!!

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    http://sami-colourfulworld.blogspot.com

  3. António February 2, 2012 3:28 am Reply

    I read your article and I couldn’t agree with you more.
    Peter Steps Rabbit’s Governement is in denial.
    Economic analysts are questioning themselves if austerity is the right solution.
    We are not having foreign investment cuz the situation of the country, therefore the chronic lack of growth.

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  4. Ben Taylor February 2, 2012 3:51 am Reply

    Amen to all of that. Kind of depressing to think it’ll never happen though isn’t it?

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    Emma   Reply: February 2nd, 2012 at 5:22 am

    I dunno, why not? I dont expect the submarines to be sold, no, but Brazil has frozen its defence spending this year, and in respect to the cleanout, all these things have happened in Australia in the last 30 years – there’s no black economy, the judicial system is reliable and most of the shitheads in the police have gone…

    [Reply to comment]

    http://www.movingtoportugal.org

  5. Papgena February 2, 2012 4:16 am Reply

    Unfortunately what you say all politicians said it already, before they sit themselves in the power chair, that is! 😛
    And the problem with the underground economy is old, very old, but when there was money no government wanted to deal with it, now they sudenly discover that is a huge problem but sadly I don’t think they have the balls to grab the bull by the horns!
    Because to solve it we must ask liability to whom gets subsidies, grants and aids from the state (there are lots of wealth people getting aid as they were very poor, and there are very poor who gets aid and thinks that they don’t have to do nothing to pay back), we have to search if the big money is paying their taxes and if the people who decided with the taxes money is really decinding well and if they are not being charged for it! (ending with the thousands of luxury cars of the state could be a principle). Why on earth every minister, secretary of state, general director and so on, has to have a luxury car and a chauffer??? And why there isn’t enough money for work cars? (police, firemans, and so on)

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    Emma   Reply: February 2nd, 2012 at 5:16 am

    quite right, papa

    [Reply to comment]

    http://papgenamadeit.blogspot.com

  6. Isabel February 2, 2012 10:16 am Reply

    I’ve got a couple of things to say:
    First, Portugal is not entering its third year under a bailout, he is getting confused with Ireland (not a innocent mistake, IMO): Portugal is entering its 9th month under a bailout.
    Second, Portugal does not have the third largest underground economy relative to GDP in the EU, after Italy and Greece. He probably means the Eurozone, as he forgets Estonia, Poland, Slovenia and Hungary (Spain being a twin country in these matters).
    Third, I keep seeing references to the numbers of this Observatório de Economia e Gestão da Fraude, which estimate in almost 1/4 of the GDP the non registered economy in Portugal in 2011. It’s a lot. A lot more than the estimation of Schneider (the Austrian pope of these kind of studies), that puts the Portuguese shadow economy at 19% in 2011. Weird, isn’t it?
    Not so much. The point is that the OECD (and the Porto people) try to count absolutely everything, while Schneider doesn’t count the bag of potatoes that your neighbour leaves at your door, the jar of plum jam that you bring to the person that gave you the plums, the lamb that one of your neighbours will offer to another one that has solved his fossa problem. None of these things would ever find themselves in the Portuguese GDP, isn’t it? Just like the lemons of my neighbour would be given away or go to waste, never ever transformed into money if I didn’t take them to Lisbon to sell to my family and friends whenever I happen to go there…
    I don’t have anything against hard science and trying to develop better indicators to understand reality. Maybe Schneiders’ way is not the best one, and that it is indeed important to try and evaluate the “non observed” economy. But it is ridiculous to pretend that the Portuguese GDP would have been this or that if people didn’t try to grown their own stuff, swap items, recycle clothes into handbags and the like. And I like people’s thinking (and motives) to be clear…
    I have a bunch of PDF links for you if you are interested, as this shadow economy is a pet peeve of mine 😉

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    Emma   Reply: February 2nd, 2012 at 10:50 pm

    OK points taken: the 3 year thing is just embarrassing…
    It didnt actually occur to me that the plum jam economy was being counted here – and how can it be accountable? My experience of the black economy is within the corporate sector. Services provided by everyone from lawyers to plumbers going under the table. And yes, when I dont want a receipt I participate in it because to an extent (except for the lawyers) I support their right to avoid paying an extraordinary level of tax. I experimented with going on the books myself, to declare donations to this blog. But to be a freelance commissionista I would have to pay €190 EACH AND EVERY MONTH in social security…which far exceeds the income I might receive. Of course, in the new world order the jam economy remains: we all have our horta, and I fix your sink if you write me a post. But anyone in the cash society earning more than €10K annually pays tax – a reasonable amount of tax, that does not go towards submarines but funds health, education and a pension. Shop in a supermarket and you pay IVA – at 13% – shop at the sat market and you don’t.

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  7. Wendy February 2, 2012 10:04 pm Reply

    I was going to write something along the lines of what Isabel’s just written, so instead I’ll just say “wot she said …”

    But there’s a bigger question to be asked here. If the system we presently have across the major part of the world is on the brink of collapse (and it is), why prolong the agony? Why prop up something that’s failing and will always fail because it’s designed to concentrate all the wealth and power in the hands of the few? Let it fail!

    Yes, chaos will ensue. But you know what? Portugal and economies like this one will be the ones who handle it best.

    Why? Because the presence of the black economy is an indicator of resilience; of the ability of a people to organise their lives to survive and to nurture their local economies against the trend that seeks to centralise it all in the hands of the bankers, the politicos and the eurocrats.

    Why? Because the humanity in evidence in this country – so much more so than in the north of Europe or the USA – shows the extent to which people still focus on caring for each other and this care is, in any case, far more valuable than anything the state provides on behalf of the collective in the name of care.

    Why? Because the patterns of land ownership mean almost every Portuguese family has access to some family land somewhere where they can grow enough to feed themselves, and family members who are still living that way to show them how, should they have forgotten.

    Why? Because the Portuguese people are accustomed to making do and mending and are far less addicted to inflated consumerism than so-called ‘richer’ nations.

    Right now, Portugal is one of the richest nations on the planet because it cradles and nurtures things of REAL worth. The things that matter. Money is just energy tokens. And the energy of this nation, despite – and even because of – being held in check and frustrated by an insane level of bureaucracy, is still in massive credit in the savings account of the nation.

    All that really needs to change is the attitude that says ‘we are poor’, because it’s a complete nonsense. We are rich beyond measure! Realise that, and money returns to being what it really is: an efficient means of energy exchange, of trade between people, not an end in and of itself, the be-all-and-end-all it presently appears to be.

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    Emma   Reply: February 2nd, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    Wendy for President. Seriously this is important fundamental stuff. Thanks Wendy.

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    Wendy   Reply: February 3rd, 2012 at 4:49 am

    @Emma, thanks for the vote, but how would it be if we abolished presidents?

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    Emma   Reply: February 6th, 2012 at 2:18 am

    Oh that would be fine, we’d have you as the Imam or something then. Or just a fabulously high profile lobbyist…

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    Wendy   Reply: February 6th, 2012 at 2:55 am

    Allah forfend! … but I could possibly be persuaded to accept the position of honourable curmudgeonly old fart …

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    Catarina Aleixo   Reply: February 5th, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    @Wendy, Totally agree. I’ve been hearing the word “crise” in Portugal for the last 25 years. This “underground” economy has served Portugal very well for its entire history. Trading food for work or for simple friendship is what allows people to live off such incredibly meagre incomes. Rather than introduce taxation upon these activities you might as well just cut people’s throats. I think I hear Gloria Gaynor singing her most popular hit…

    [Reply to comment]

    http://www.permaculturinginportugal.net/

  8. HOPE AND BELIEVE February 2, 2012 11:08 pm Reply

    PORTUGAL WILL SURVIVE,1000 YEARS OF HISTORY WILL PREVAIL AND SHOW THE WORLD , TIME WILL TELL , PORTUGUESE PEUPLE ARE USE TO STRUGGLE

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  9. IsabelPS February 3, 2012 2:17 am Reply

    OK, back to square one.

    There is definitely fraud and corruption and corporate tax evasion. Those evils should be studied and checked. But to whom does it interest to mix them with self-sufficiency and informal economy in a small scale, and, for all purposes, to convince the Portuguese (and the world at large) that they are born cheaters? I am always highly suspicious of muddled thinking in people whose job is to think. I have to find out who these Porto people are.

    I tend to agree with Wendy. But I am afraid that her view of Portugal and the Portuguese is tinted by her experience in a rural environment and that she is probably unaware of the immense suffering of the brand new middle class who moved to the cities and to white collar jobs just a generation ago and finds itself cast back to the poverty and hardship it thought it had escaped, all in a matter of a couple of decades:

    http://www.publico.pt/Sociedade/classe-media-esta-em-risco-de-implosao-1531281

    Their children, the 20-30 years old, will hopefully be able to return to the land and to the things of REAL worth without the feeling that they failed miserably…

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    Wendy   Reply: February 3rd, 2012 at 5:13 am

    @IsabelPS, yes I stay in a rural environment, but I do know what’s going on in the cities. The point I was trying to make though is however much disappointment and suffering there will be for the new Portuguese middle classes, it still doesn’t compare to their equivalent in northern European urban and suburban sprawls who have no memory of their rural roots to fall back on, no tradition of growing their own food anywhere within their family, no ‘family’ to speak of anyway, no knowledge of how to deal with lack, and pitiful reserves of resourcefulness to fall back on. None of us are going to get away lightly here – huge perceptual shifts are being called for – but from where I’m standing, Portugal looks to be in a much better shape to deal with it than many other nations. As the commenter before you says, Portuguese people are used to struggle. That’s a great asset in these times.

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    Isabel   Reply: February 3rd, 2012 at 5:38 am

    @Wendy, OK, I agree with you. I’ve always thought that one of the weaknesses of UK’s society was the fact that “land” was so removed from the majority of people. Land and, consequently, food. Real food. In a strange way, I’ve always felt that it was a very serious matter.

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    Wendy   Reply: February 3rd, 2012 at 5:45 am

    @Isabel … Strange?! Nothing strange about it! It’s a frighteningly serious matter! One of the reasons I’m in Portugal rather than the UK …

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  10. HOPE AND BELIEVE February 3, 2012 7:00 am Reply

    PLANT A SEED LET IT GROW AND COLLECT THE FRUITS , AFTER THAT TEACH YOUR KIDS TO DO THE SAME , LIVE LIFE WITH A FREE AND CLEAN CONSCIENCE AND AVOID KARMA BY DOING GOD AND CHOOSING A GOOD PATH IN LIFE , HAPPINESS WILL EMBRACE YOU…

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  11. nomad February 3, 2012 11:47 am Reply

    History has always shown that there are Booms, Depressions, then warfare. The whole world is due for a massive depression, this will include all of Europe, most of Asia, and the USA, Canada and Australia.
    Millions will lose their jobs, it always happens. However, homo sapiens will survive they always have. The main problem is that nations never learn from their past history.
    This world trade is a lot of crap, there is no such thing, otherwise why cannot Argentine beef enter Australia, why can’t Fiji bananas enter Australia. Why can’t French Pernod enter Australia duty free, since there is no such similar product available in Australia.
    World trade only suits the multi national companies, and not the people.
    One the coming depression is over, after about ten years all global trade will vanish from sight. We don’t need grapes available for 12 months per year, just goods in season.
    I hope the new world order will adjust the wrongs, but I doubt this very much.
    China and India with Asia and South America will be in charge after the depression, and western civilization will cease to exist as we know it today, and will join the Pharoahs in gathering the dust of history.
    All civilizations end up in corruption, then downfall, and forgotten.

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  12. Emma February 3, 2012 11:13 pm Reply

    I received this from from Denise Rousseau via email:

    Fernado Pesoa said “preciso de verdade e da aspirina”. Portugal também. But the painfulness of today’s truths result from stretching new muscles not from decrepitude. Portugal lies in a uniquely advantageous position in Europe. Today, northern Europe is in the deep freeze but the sun is shining on Portugal’s three major ports (counting the Açores) and its major airport. On the very fringe of Europe, it has strong economic ties to Brazil, Africa, India and China based on its former mercantile empire that emphasized intermarrying with local people and establishing deep roots. These are precisely the areas experiencing rapid growth and capital accumulation. The Portuguese are among the most mobile workforce in Europe – 400,000 left the country last year to a familiar life of remittances and saudades. But these same workers are valuable in the new economy – they are multi-lingual, resourceful, and show initiative. Young professionals in Portugal are very well educated, creative, and given the chance, entrepreneurial.

    Portugal faces westward to the New World and Asia where it’s future lies; it should cut ties with Brussels/Berlin and pro-actively initiate a debt restructuring package in which the default is negotiated with bondholders, equity investors, and banks. Investors will take centavos on the Euro if the potential upside is new growth. It is already happening: Angolan petro dollars finance a number of Portuguese banks; the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer increased its holding in the Portuguese plane repair company OGMA to 65%; and China’s Three Gorges just bought 22% of EDP not for the revenues (Portugal’s population is roughly half the size of Beijing’s) but because the savvy Chinese see Portugal as a gateway to the massive European marketplace.

    A recent article in the NY Times by a middle-aged Spanish journalist bemoaned the fact that young Spaniards are becoming puritanical and work oriented – Anglo Saxon. The irony is that Old World values are quite moralistic when it comes to forgiving debt. Bankruptcy laws are very lenient in the US and people are able to reinvent themselves a number of times before achieving success. Of course, American easy money has fueled too many speculative bubbles, but the velocity of money means that bouncing back after the bust is a lot easier. Europe, and especially Germany, should be less puritanical about money. Portugal could be the California of Europe – a center for worldwide commerce and innovation. Take two aspirin and embrace the pain – of change.

    The Black Economy – just brainstorming…
    Portugal could take money freed up from savings on fuel oil purchases due to its successful renewable energy program and fund a national EBAY type site where all manner of underground commerce could see the light of day All sales would automatically be assessed a 10% sales tax (competitive with US rates) eliminating tax fraud. In return, the government would subsidize a battery of tech-savy young people to create standardized web sites, help establish standard product lines with clear digital imagery, and help with the electronic transactions and shipment of goods. PT Correios could develop a branch like FED EX that specializes in overnight shipment of packages – Portugal has a great road system, ports and is considering expanding airport service for freight. Today, there is a whole cohort of young people who are a generation removed from Salazar’s O Estado Novo. They are willing and able to create the New State of the 21st century. By adopting an outlook of optimism, things just might change.

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    Wendy   Reply: February 6th, 2012 at 2:51 am

    Hmmmm … when I let my imagination run away with this scenario, there’s just one fairly significant problem standing in the way … a planet no longer capable of sustaining life.

    Personally I think the party’s over and it’s time to face the fact that the human race’s talent for unbridled consumption way in excess of need and of the capacity of the biosphere to reprocess is not compatible with continued life here.

    I love life on this planet. The things that mean the most to me can’t be bought with money. Mostly they’re all the things that are being destroyed by those under the spell of money-grabbing insanity, like rainforests, oceans teeming with life, clean waters, living soil, fresh air, simple human relationships, the other creatures who have the misfortune to share this planet with us … As some wise Native American once said “Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money.”

    [Reply to comment]

    http://www.emmashouseinportugal.com

  13. Martin February 3, 2012 11:50 pm Reply

    As I see it, at this moment, the seeds that have been planted are consumerism; everything is disposable and therefore has little value. Because there is little value placed then people lose respect for how hard it is get the income to generate material wealth and expectations rise. This works (not right though) when economies are expanding but when things start to go the other way people struggle to adjust. Particularly young people who have know little else. I have great faith in people’s ability to adapt but this needs leadership from politicians who need to be big enough to stand up and say we got it wrong and make radical changes not just tinker with the status quo. Still don’t know why a 70s rock band would think stable and unchanging is a good name for radical band but I digress.
    I can see no way that Portugal can thrive if it’s tied to a German economic model so the sooner Portugal can get out of the Euro the better for the Portuguese people. Sadly doing this would probably bring down at least two French banks and probably a German one as well. The French government can’t afford to bail out the banks so will not let Portugal out of the Euro and so everyone will have to keep bailing out the struggling Euro countries until they come up with plan B.
    The real danger in my mind is from the reason the EU was started in the first place. Since the Middle Ages and probably before Europe has had a great tradition of when you’re in trouble you blame your traditional enemies and then go to war. If your neighbours are bigger than you or someone else stops you then you’ve had it and you get the likes of military dictatorships or crackpot political parties coming to fore. Which, to get back to where I started, is where disaffected youth can find solace when they have no work and no hope. To my mind Europe is great institution but the Euro is killing it and politicians all over Europe need to act decisively rather than worry about getting re elected by propping up something that has clearly failed.
    We all need to encourage the politicians to help youth into employment and prevent punitive taxes that stop small and medium size businesses from taking on employees. Or the ones that have the drive to succeed will up and go where they are valued. To paraphrase they are our future.
    Rant over, this was going to be a couple of sentences about seeds, got a bit carried away.

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: February 4th, 2012 at 12:20 am

    ooo I do love a ranter, let’s not get too serious! Yeah, status quo???

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  14. Martin February 4, 2012 1:31 am Reply

    How about this for a suggestion to the Portuguese prime minister. Make the military airbase in Monte Real in central Portugal into a joint civilian airport. Removing the need for an additional airport in the south and boosting tourism along the Silver coast and the rest of central Portugal. With the additional benefit of saving on military spending by sharing the costs while retaining the current air force capabilities. Everyone wins, who wants to start a campaign?

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    Emma   Reply: February 4th, 2012 at 1:32 am

    me!

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    mick   Reply: February 20th, 2012 at 5:31 am

    @Martin, They have one in Beja. Anyway I did see some army planes flying over my farm last month. They do a good job

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    Martin   Reply: February 21st, 2012 at 5:02 am

    @mick, my thought was there are underused resources out there (radar and all that hardware) that could be used to bring in some cash via holiday makers. Sharing seems to work well in places like Eindhoven, having said that I’ve not been there for some time but assume it’s the same. I used to regularly fly from there and watching jet fighters take off and land makes for a bit more interesting viewing while your waiting for a flight. I was also supposing, with austerity measures, they won’t be able to play with their toys as often leaving plenty of space for the likes of Easyjet. Beja sound good as well but I guess Monte Real being very close to the coast and Coimbra would be a more attractive economically for airlines

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    Ana Teresa   Reply: February 24th, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    @Martin, They have tried that in Viseu years ago… Did’nt work…

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  15. Isabel February 5, 2012 5:46 am Reply

    Just had lunch at some friends. At table various people, among which one of my friend’s best and richest (and consumerist) friend, her sister and her daughter. The conversation at lunchtime was mostly about the Christmas presents that this very well-off family made themselves and offered each other, with a lot of love, fun and time consumed. The times are indeed a-changin’.

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    Emma   Reply: February 6th, 2012 at 2:22 am

    Cool. It’s the only way the winter solstice should be celebrated 😉

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  16. manuel.m February 5, 2012 8:45 am Reply

    Not every country has the chance of having a PM with “ideas”!
    Do you remember dear old David and his plans for a “BIG SOCIETY”? Have you heard anything lately about that ?
    And by the way UK public debt has reached a TRILLION quid ,but surely you do have a solution for that too . Do you mind sharing it with the poor Portuguese who are in such dire situation ?

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    Emma   Reply: February 6th, 2012 at 2:16 am

    Actually Manuel, every democratic country DOES have the chance of having a PM with ideas. It’s up to the people to make an informed choice at election time. And if the candidate does not have ideas, what are they doing running for public office?

    Secondly I’m not British and I don’t live in Britain and I have no opinion about the British economy or politics. This is not a competition or comparison between one country or another. I talk about Portugal because this is where I live, and I care. I do not see Portugal or its people as victims. Everyone has the power to make change and this blog’s readers, whether Portuguese or expat, are evidence that some people are motivated to act on their beliefs and not just complain. Which one are you?

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    Ana Teresa   Reply: February 24th, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    @Emma, 🙂

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  17. Rodrigo February 19, 2012 11:51 am Reply

    Great article with great response. Thank you Emma. For a ‘barefoot’ individual like me, I worry lots about world overpopulation and nuclear weapons. Anything else is just great banter for me. Working hard at selling my place in South Africa to buy my quinta in Portugal and watch trees grow. I woman in my life would be great too. Any single ladies out there 🙂

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  18. Bruno May 14, 2012 6:29 am Reply

    Nice to see your opinion about Portugal
    PM should stop and think, pay pay pay taxes is killing economy, selling public companies will bring less control over economy, correcting mistakes like the submarines should be priority, farming projects should be incentivated and better conections/organization of the distribution markets, less desert areas of population and better economy in the food department.
    …corruption and big interests should be fighted, specially among politicians…
    …and with so much good things in Portugal, better marketing would be nice in other countries…
    …priority, diverge construction muscle/market/economy to recover urban areas and protect ID landscapes/images of Portugal… with so many castles, palaces and ruins…they still produce ambient, can produce money and can be recover to new functions…
    oh… so many things to do… 🙂

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