The Correfoc Report 31-Aug-2019
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Catalonia govt to take Madrid to court over withheld funds (Catalan News 21-Aug)
Spain to take Cat govt to court over foreign action plans (Catalan News 23-Aug)
Barcelona commercial to residential conversation x3 in last 5 years (El País 26-Aug)
The Correfoc's View
Legal actions on their own won’t move the needle. Both sides would be better off making cultural moves and doing things which very directly benefit the people they want to persuade.
Fun Fact: The 202nd Festa Major de Gràcia took place this month, with an estimated 2 million people taking to 24 streets in the Gràcia district (Catalan News 15-Aug)

The Correfoc Report 31-Jul-2019
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Catalonia received 65.9% of planned funding 2015-2018 (La Vanguardia 30-Jul)
Spain spied on Catalonia rep offices (TV3 09-Jul)
10,000 Catalans protest outside EU parliament (The National 03-Jul)
The Correfoc's View
The numbers help explain Catalan grievances with Spain. Madrid receiving 113.9% of its planned spending doesn’t look great. By other measures, only approx a third of spending was actually executed in the 2013-18 period. Spain has some questions to answer...
Other sources number the protests (to acknowledge their MEPs – last month's report below) in Strasbourg at approx. 5,000. Even that is quite a turnout. Even the British, who are leaving the EU, have never gone international to protest like that.
Spanish spying on Catalan rep offices isn’t just creepy, it’s silly. Nobody will be dealing with them diplomatically and their entire purpose seems to be to encourage investment, tourism, etc. in Catalonia. Lots of states, regions, etc. within countries have those kinds of offices. This only makes Spain look controlling and paranoid. Worse – Spain seems to be spying on foreign politicians e.g. UK (Daily Mail 11-Jul) and is being sued by the Catalan rep in Berlin (Catalan News 31-Jul), presumably taking advantage of post-war, literal anti-Nazi, legal measures.
Fun Fact: On its pre-season tour of Japan, FC Barcelona is cooperating with the Government of Catalonia and the Barcelona City Council to promote investment in Catalonia (FC Barcelona 23-Jul)

The Correfoc Report 30-Jun-2019
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
No MEPs from Spain to receive accreditation after Puigdemont blocked (euronews 06-Jun)

Catalan separatists defiant on last day of trial in Madrid (BBC 12-Jun)

NGO ship defies ban on rescuing migrants from the Mediterranean (Catalan News 28-Jun)
The Correfoc's View
Spain’s MEP situation is farcical. The EU Parliament President, Antonio Tajani, dodged the problem by saying this is an administrative matter for Spain’s judiciary (National 29-Jun). Let’s see how Puigdemont’s trip to the European Court of Justice goes (Politico 17-Jun). The Correfoc expects he will be rejected. The EU is not in a strong enough position to risk angering Spain.
Fun Fact: The 10,000 acre wild fire in Catalonia started because temperatures got so hot that a big pile of manure spontaneously combusted (CNN 28-Jun)

The Correfoc Report 31-May-2019
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Spain protest UN request to release independence leaders (Reuters 31-May)
Puigdemont elected as MEP, EU parliament deny access (Catalan News 29-May)
Spain suspends sworn-in, jailed independence MPs (Reuters 24-May)
The Correfoc's View
Catalonia’s situation is farcical. Its MPs are sworn in then suspended immediately. Its most prominent, newly elected MEP is being denied access to his office on what seems like a convenient technicality. Perhaps the internationality of recent news will attract some attention.
However, Catalonia is still split. A recent poll shows support for and against independence at roughly equal (El País 10-May). Spanish unionists should still be concerned. It would not take much to shift things clearly in favour of independence. Independence supporters should still be concerned. They have considerably more work to do.
Fun Fact: President Quim Torra is fighting to keep Formula 1 in Catalonia (La Vanguardia 12-May)

The Correfoc Report 30-Apr-2019
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Independence parties increase seats in Spanish parliament (The Local 30-Apr)
Spain bars exiled ex-President Puigdemont from EU elections (Reuters 29-Apr)
30 officials to face trial over independence referendum (El País 09-Apr)
The Correfoc's View
The aftermath of the Spanish national parliamentary elections could be good for Catalan independence. Some speculate that PM Sanchez could govern without support but his party falls well short of a majority. He may need to seek support from at least some parties which support Catalan independence. The rumours are that the price would be another referendum. The Correfoc is doubtful. The Correfoc expects Sanchez to work hard to avoid a referendum because it is very risky.
Fun Fact: Earthquake 4.3 on the Richter scale hits Catalonia (Catalan News 03-Apr)

The Correfoc Report 31-Mar-2019
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Ex-President Puigdemont to run in European elections (Catalan News 10-Mar)
3 attacks in 1 week on migrant youth camps (El País 12-Mar)
Anti-independence Vox Party co-prosecutor in independence trial (Reuters 13-Mar)
The Correfoc's View
Spain’s justice system allows for co-accusers, so-called “people’s prosecutors” at trials. Whatever the result of the trial, it is very obviously politicised. The Correfoc expects this will only help to boost the cause for independence.
Cultural influences are important too. Catalonia has a (unrecognised) national football team. It played Venezuela and won. La Liga, the Spanish football league, refused Catalan players at Spanish clubs permission to join the team (Reuters 20-Mar). The Correfoc does not understand why Scotland or Wales have sports teams separate to England, but Catalonia cannot have one separate from Spain.
Fun Fact: Catalonia defeat Venezuela at football 2-1 (BBC 25-Mar)

The Correfoc Report 28-Feb-2019
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Spain ends talks with Catalonia (El País 08-Feb)
Ex-PM Rajoy blames Catalans for his referendum violence (Reuters 27-Feb)
Pro-separatists protest and block roads (AP 21-Feb)
The Correfoc's View
Catalan separatists refused to help pass the Spanish govt’s budget so it ended talks. This may lead to an early general election. The Correfoc expects all sides will stay firm.
Road blocks and disruptive protests are usually ineffective...but the Correfoc does not expect ex-PM Rajoy’s testimony in the Catalan leaders’ rebellion trial will be taken well. He effectively said that the Catalans forced him to react violently by proceeding with their referendum vote.
Fun Fact: Barcelona won a strong victory over Real Madrid, 3-0, in the Copa del Rey (FC Barcelona 27-Feb)

The Correfoc Report 31-Jan-2019
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Catalonia’s separatist leaders go on trial (Economist 31-Jan)
Spain PM loses budget vote (AP 22-Jan)
17 arrested in ongoing anti-terror operation (AP 15-Jan)
The Correfoc's View
The separatist leaders arrested in the aftermath of 2017’s independence vote are now going on trial. Proceedings will last for months and it will be televised. It is very important that Spain conducts fair trials. Catalan nationalists will be watching for anything untoward and view this as a judgement on Catalonia itself.
Other troubles rumble on. The threat of terrorism is fuel for independence. Separatist parties (and others) voted down a Spanish national budget which increased spending for Catalonia. Unfair spending is a driver but independence is definitely proving to be about more than money for some separatists. Self-determination is a powerful motivation.
Fun Fact: Catalonia is suing Lego for not including the Catalan language on packaging for sale in the region (Brick Fanatics 11-Jan)

The Correfoc Report 31-Dec-2018
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Jailed Catalan leaders begin hunger strike (Reuters 01-Dec)
Madrid threaten extra police to tackle protesters (El País 11-Dec)
Protesters & police clash as cabinet meet in Barcelona (France 24 21-Dec)
The Correfoc's View
Political division, protests, riots, continue. Protesters and supporters of independence must be careful not to put off potential supporters. Blocking traffic and inconveniencing the general public do not tend to persuade people. In any case, Catalonia is still much divided. Conciliatory language from the new Spanish PM seems to be just talk. The Correfoc does not expect tensions and anger over independence to fade in 2019.
Fun Fact: The “caganer” is a traditional figurine in Catalan nativity displays – it literally means “the shitter” and often depicts a political figure with their trousers down (BBC 17-Dec)

The Correfoc Report 30-Nov-2018
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Spanish authorities cannot agree charges against separatists (El País 02-Nov)
Ai Weiwei condemns Spanish behaviour (Catalan News 21-Nov)
Budget protests intensify (El País 29-Nov)
The Correfoc's View
Different Spanish authorities cannot decide between the more serious charge of rebellion (25 years) or sedition (12 years) and misuse of funds. Either way, democracy carries a prison sentence in Spain. Freedom of speech also looks threatened after a Catalan comedian was summoned to court for hate crimes and insulting Spanish symbols by blowing his nose on a Spanish flag (Catalan News 26-Nov). Ai Weiwei’s (the famous Chinese human rights dissident and artist) intervention looks even more awful for Spain.
Anti-austerity protests are also increasing. 60% of family doctors are on strike in Catalonia. If Spain is not careful, anti-authoritarian, anti-immigration (see August’s Report), and economic unrest will cause real trouble. It is unsurprising that the latest poll was 47%/43% in favour of independence (Catalan News 23-Nov).
Fun Fact: Artists Anna Juncà and David Oliva created an “Origami Lava” display in an abandoned building as part of the annual Lluèrnia Festival celebrating fire and light (The Spaces 14-Nov)

The Correfoc Report 31-Oct-2018
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Pro-independence MPs lose majority in parliament (Catalan News 09-Oct)
Referendum websites blocked by Spain, EU won’t interfere (Catalan News 16-Oct)
Barcelona launches new digital currency (Crypto News 05-Oct)
The Correfoc's View
The loss of their majority comes after a ruling by a Spanish judge to suspend certain MPs (the imprisoned or exiled). The speaker will not allow substitutions and some parties/MPs reject being substituted anyway. The Correfoc understands the point of principle (they believe they are rightfully elected and illegitimately denied their seats) but wonders about practicality.
The Correfoc is concerned about “digital repression”. Jordi Puigneró, the Minister of Digital Policies, has taken the complaint to the EU about Spain shutting down hundreds of pro-independence websites and apps. The EU response amounted to saying that it was against digital repression except when the laws of a Member State allow it. This is disgusting.
Fun Fact: FC Barcelona defeat Real Madrid in a spectacular 5-1 match (FC Barcelona 28-Oct)

The Correfoc Report 30-Sep-2018
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Spanish PM proposes a greater autonomy referendum (Channel News Asia 03-Sep)
Bank of Spain cuts growth forecasts (Reuters 25-Sep)
Madrid sends 1,000 extra police to Catalonia (El País 05-Sep)
The Correfoc's View
It has been a year since the independence referendum and it looks like stalemate. There is little movement on either side, though popular pro-independence marches are frequent and well attended. Despite cuts in growth forecasts, the Catalonia economy remains strong. It is the strongest in all of Spain. The Correfoc believes that the independence movement is making slow gains, but this is a battle of attrition and independence is not guaranteed. 
Fun Fact: There are an estimated 9 million speakers of the Catalan language

The Correfoc Report 31-Aug-2018
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Yellow ribbon protests continue (The Local 30-Aug)
Catalonia 1H exports hit record high, €36.6bn (Catalan News 23-Aug)
Andalusia and Catalonia want fairer migrant distribution (El País 06-Aug)
The Correfoc's View
Tensions are still high. Many Catalans protest the imprisonment of their elected representatives with yellow ribbons, posted all around in many public places. Counter-protesters do their best to take them down or spoil them.
The Correfoc is mindful of the ongoing Mediterranean migrant crisis. Italy is taking preventative measures and now the boats go to Andalusia and Catalonia. The Correfoc suspects this will make the central Madrid government even more unpopular.
Fun Fact: Despite heavy controls, the independence referendum happened anyway in last October – the ballot boxes came via the Catalans in the South of France (BBC 19-Aug)

The Correfoc Report 31-Jul-2018
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Spain drops warrant against Puigdemont (BBC 19-Jul)
Spain to challenge Cat govt in court (Catalan News 06-Jul)
Catalonia govt to adopt blockchain technology (Press Release 07-Jul)
The Correfoc's View
Spain looks like it will oppose any and all means to achieve independence through legal means. It will challenge a motion set in the Catalan parliament merely reaffirming commitment to seeking independence.
The promise to adopt blockchain technology is very interesting. It could help Catalonia create the infrastructure it needs for a minimally disruptive separation.
Fun Fact: A return to traditional fishing methods may help save the red shrimp fishing industry (Smithsonian Magazine 05-Jul)

The Correfoc Report 30-Jun-2018
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Catalan President to ask Spain for secession vote (AP 26-Jun)
Madrid lifts financial controls (Politico 08-Jun)
Govt rules out incentives to reattract firms (Catalan News 14-Jun)
The Correfoc's View
The new Catalan govt will try official, fully indisputable legal means to get a vote on independence. There is a new govt in Madrid which for now looks like it is taking a less violent and authoritarian approach. If a vote is granted can independence win? Catalonia’s economy is strong across all sectors. It does not look like the events of last year had a serious effect. On the other hand, voters may not want to rock the boat. It is too early for the Correfoc to judge.
Fun Fact: The women of the town L'Ametlla del Vallès have voted 60.1% to allow topless bathing at the local municipal pool after previous arrests and public demonstrations (La Vanguardia 11-Jun)

The Correfoc Report 31-May-2018
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Torra proposes new ministers (El País 30-May)
Nestlé and Siemens plan new tech hubs (Catalan News 29-May)
S&P drops debt downgrade warning for Catalonia (The Local 26-May)
The Correfoc's View
Catalan President Quim Torra has proposed a new govt with no jailed or exiled members. It looks like Madrid will have to restore regional power to an independence-supporting Catalan govt.
Catalonia’s prospects are good. Nestlé’s and Siemens’ plans, the planned blockchain centre in the Barcelona Tech City (La Vanguardia 24-May), are good examples of a wider pattern. Entrepreneurship increased from approx. 6.9% to 8% in 2017 (GEM 28-May). Catalonia also attracted the most EU funds for innovative SMEs 2014-17 (Catalan News 30-May).
The Correfoc believes a focus on tech, innovation, and new business could help minimise the risks of independence. New projects do not rely as much on the maintenance of the status quo.
Fun Fact: Hollywood actor Robert De Niro will open a new Nobu restaurant in Barcelona in 2019 (La Vanguardia 18-May)

The Correfoc Report 30-Apr-2018
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Basque delegation sent to Catalonia for budget talks (Bloomberg 09-Apr)
Germany refuses to extradite Puigdemont (Independent 05-Apr)
Spain & Catalonia fishing permit battle (The Local 26-Apr)
The Correfoc's View
Spain is months overdue to pass their budget for this year. Spanish PM Rajoy relied on Basque Nationalist Party support to stay in government. Now they will not support a new budget until the end of Madrid’s direct rule over Catalonia. Support for independence in the Basque Country is approx 25% (50% in Catalonia) and the Basques have much greater financial self-determination. The Correfoc expects that the Basques like the status quo and will try to approach the situation as a moderating influence.
Fun Fact: Saint Jordi (George) is the patron saint of Catalonia. His day is 23-Apr.

The Correfoc Report 31-Mar-2018
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Puigdemont detained in Germany (BBC 25-Mar)
Madrid sends bodyguards for officials in Catalonia (El País 29-Mar)
Madrid prepares to extend control (El País 05-Mar)
The Correfoc's View
The Catalan independence debate was reignited across Europe.
Spain re-issued 6 EU arrest warrants. Finland conspicuously avoided the problem of arresting Puigdemont (Guardian 25-Mar) but not Germany. 51% of Germans are against, with only 35% in favour (Die Welt 29-Mar). Puigdemont has highly respected lawyer, an ex-German Supreme Court and UN International Criminal Court judge (Deutsche Welle 28-Mar). The arrest of ex-Education Minister, Clara Ponsatí, in Scotland is also controversial. St Andrews University, where she lectures in economics, supports her (Guardian 26-Mar) and a cross-bench group of Scottish MPs (Herald 30-Mar). Ponsatí’s crowdfunded legal defence has broken records (Guardian 31-Mar).
The Correfoc expects that the EU arrest warrants will not be denied. The EU is fragile and cannot afford to embarrass Spain. On the other hand, the EU cannot be seen to trample human rights, free speech, and democracy. The issue of Catalan independence is far from over.
Fun Fact: Bakers expect to sell 700,000 traditional Easter Mona de Pasqua cakes this year (Catalan News 28-Mar)

The Correfoc Report 28-Feb-2018
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Amnesty International call for independence leader release (Guardian 07-Feb)
Catalan govt planning army, Guardia Civil report says (El Pais 02-Feb)
Girona airport to get high speed rail connection (Catalan News 22-Feb)
The Correfoc's View
The pro-independence side is making its next moves: an appeal to human rights and civil liberties. We will see appeals to the UN (Guardian 01-Feb), the ECHR (Catalan News 13-Feb), and independence politician Anna Gabriel is seeking asylum in Switzerland (El Pais 20-Feb). The Correfoc expects this is the best chance at tackling the 4-year low support for independence (Reuters 23-Feb) but it may prove a longer term strategy.
Fun Fact: FA charge Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola over yellow independence support ribbon (Guardian 23-Feb)

The Correfoc Report 31-Jan-2018
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Spanish court; Puigdemont cannot rule from abroad (BBC 27-Jan)
Spanish govt; military was ready to go into Catalonia (ABC 06-Jan)
Drought threatens crops (Catalan News 24-Jan)
The Correfoc's View
Political games continue. A Spanish court has ruled that Puigdemont cannot lead the Catalan parliament as a fugitive. There are no other candidates and the Catalan parliament has delayed the vote to elect its President (Independent 30-Jan). Puigdemont’s (temporary) despair (BBC 31-Jan) is understandable. We now know that Spain was prepared to send in the army and spent an extra €88m on police to squash independence (Independent 18-Jan). The Correfoc thinks it is the separatists’ next move.
Fun Fact: Messi agreed a no-fee exit clause in case of Catalan independence (Reuters 05-Jan)

The Correfoc Report 31-Dec-2017
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Independence parties keep win narrow majority (BBC 21-Dec)
Q4 economic growth predict 0.7% (AIReF 28-Dec)
Madrid govt begin withdrawing police from Catalonia (Deutsche Welle 27-Dec)
The Correfoc's View
The Correfoc’s election prediction was correct (see last month’s report below). Exiled Ex-President Puigdemont is calling for talks. If Madrid rejects talks they look unreasonable. If they accept talks it gives legitimacy to independence. Spanish PM Rajoy is trying a desperate third option. He is urging the pro-unity Ciudadanos party to try to form a govt (Bloomberg 27-Dec).
The Correfoc expects the pro-independence parties to form a govt but it will take some time. The Correfoc also expects them to promise compromise and stability to reassure business and build on their political support.
Fun Fact: Real Madrid 0, Barcelona 3 (BBC 23-Dec)

The Correfoc Report 30-Nov-2017
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Brussels court grant Puigdemont freedom to campaign (Reuters 06-Nov)
2700 companies reregister HQs since referendum (Washington Post 30-Nov)
Police probe Cat govt bitcoin referendum payment Amazon&Google (El Mundo 24-Nov)
The Correfoc's View
Madrid and the ex-Catlan govt suggest compromises. Madrid is open to discussing greater fiscal autonomy (Guardian 21-Nov). Puigdemont says independence is not the only solution (The Local 13-Nov) and his PdeCat party now favours talks to achieve independence (The Local 24-Nov). The Correfoc thinks this is just for election campaigning. The Correfoc predicts a narrow win for pro-independence parties.
Fun Fact: Catalans in France are now beginning to campaign for independence (Daily Express 07-Nov)

The Correfoc Report 29-Oct-2017
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Referendum: 90.18% for independence (Government of Catalonia 10-Oct)
Spanish govt take control of Catalonia TV and radio (El País 22-Oct)
1000+ companies re-register HQs (Der Spiegel 20-Oct)
The Correfoc's View
Spain is revoking the authority of the Government of Catalonia. It jailed independence leaders (Reuters 16-Oct), journalists were summoned by the police, a law was passed to help businesses relocate (Independent 06-Oct), it will force new elections in January (BBC 20-Oct), and hundreds of voters were beaten by police (BBC 01-Oct).
The EU’s credibility is wearing thin.
The Catalans are making economically defensive moves. The Correfoc has heard of plans to introduce a new cryptocurrency. This would bypass Spanish control of the financial system.
Fun Fact: A correfoc is a “fire run”, a traditional Catalan celebration where people dress up as demons and run around, shooting fireworks (see example here)