Guest Post: Five Things I’ve Learned On The Ground In Portugal

Tyler Durden's picture


Submitted by Simon Black of Sovereign Man

Five Things I’ve Learned On The Ground In Portugal

Portugal is a country that I’ve always enjoyed, full of warm, welcoming people, excellent wine, and great weather.

I came to Porto, the country’s second largest city of some 1.5 million, to get a sense of what’s been happening since the eurocalypse.

1. Capitulation of hope

Excluding the city’s still-bustling tourist areas, it’s very quiet around the city.

Street-level retail shops and restaurants are either devoid of customers or have been vacated. On many blocks I’ve seen more “for lease” signs than operating businesses.

Officially, the unemployment rate is 15.2% in Portugal, and the economy will contract 3% this year… yet the clear lack of economic activity suggests the real figures are much greater.

Without doubt, reality has set in. Locals have capitulated ‘hope’ that the good times will magically re-appear and have adjusted their habits accordingly.

2. Austerity: too little, too late

For the last several years, national government spending has contributed nearly 40% of Portugal’s GDP.  In Europe, this has only been bested by (you guessed it) Greece and Ireland.

Including local and provincial governments, in fact, total government expenditure here surpasses 50% of GDP. It’s insane.

Under the terms of their bail-out last year, they’ve been forced to cut back. Sort of.

The government recently tried reforming public worker benefits, for example. But Portugal’s Constitutional Court overturned the move, ruling that cutting public workers’ Christmas bonuses and generous paid holidays is unconstitutional.

They’ve also made attempts at overhauling the broken pension system. But then the president himself, Mr. Anibal Cavaco Silva, began complaining about his own pension being trimmed.

You really can’t make this stuff up.

All the national and local governments have really been able to do is cut small, rounding-error line items from the budget… landscaping, trash collection, things like that.

You can see the results on the streets– the grass is growing knee-high in public areas away from Porto’s main tourist spots.

But none of this is going to make a dent in the budget. ‘Austerity’ here is truly meaningless, and these guys are going to slide right back into insolvency. I’d expect Portugal’s 10-year yield (currently 10.3%) to rise.

3. Absurdly cheap.

Portugal is now one of the cheapest civilized places in the world to live. As part of the contraction, both asset prices and many retail prices in Portugal have dropped substantially.

The middle/upper-middle class segments of the real estate market have gone no-bid, and investment property owners with mortgages to service are getting desperate.

To give you an idea, I’m renting a spacious 3-bedroom, 2000 square foot luxury apartment in a new(ish) development that was completed during the real estate boom a few years ago. It’s costing me a whopping $60/night.

The complex is a ghost town. I’ve seen four human beings in as many days, and as I stand on the terrace surveying the other units, most of what I see is vacant.

Property owners I’ve spoken to say that they don’t want to rent to locals under a long-term lease because the locals can’t pay. And when they stop paying, the government makes eviction very difficult.

This makes their market of potential lessees quite small, hence cheap prices.

4. Gold businesses are doing well

All over town you can see these new ‘cash for gold’ type franchises being set up. It’s crazy, you’ll even see two or three of them on the same block across the street from one another. It’s like Starbucks.

Many of them are doing brisk business as locals look to raise spare cash. And the businesses are only buying gold, not selling.

5. Lack of productive youth

There is a noticeable, disproportionate lack of young people between the ages of 15 to 35 or so.

It seems that much of Portugal’s youth is heading to greener pastures, most notably to Brazil where they can easily obtain residency, find a job, and integrate into society… or to frontier markets like Angola (a former colony with a booming resource economy).

No doubt, people with skills and courage are getting the hell out.

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Thu, 07/12/2012 - 12:04 | 2610103 Mr Lennon Hendrix
Mr Lennon Hendrix's picture

6.  The women are babes!

Thu, 07/12/2012 - 12:09 | 2610123 Ahmeexnal
Ahmeexnal's picture

No, they aren't.

Thu, 07/12/2012 - 12:12 | 2610132 Popo
Popo's picture

Leave him alone it's not his fault.  Some people have become so used to fat asses, they've started to like them.

Thu, 07/12/2012 - 12:56 | 2610298 SemperFord
SemperFord's picture

What's wrong with a meaty but firm ass on a woman? Plenty of broads still have my teeth marks on them! 

A little Cushin for the Pushin...Would you kick her off the bed??? 

Thu, 07/12/2012 - 13:15 | 2610361 Mr Lennon Hendrix
Mr Lennon Hendrix's picture

It isn't my fault.  I pretty much like all women as long as they have a nice personality.  And I really like european women.

Thu, 07/12/2012 - 13:25 | 2610396 SemperFord
SemperFord's picture

I somewhat agree because I can't stand a broad who has no brains, wit or personality and depends on her looks to get by but I prefer Asian women, they know how to take care of their men.

Thu, 07/12/2012 - 13:31 | 2610430 ZeroSpread
ZeroSpread's picture


It's time to kick Simon Black & his team out of the inner circle. His article are predictable, score an average of 2..3 pts and do so rightfully. Go with quality, not with (paid?) quantity. He's good enough for a guest post.




Thu, 07/12/2012 - 13:56 | 2610509 ScatterTheCoins...
ScatterTheCoins_TurnTheTables's picture

Fat chics are like Mopeds.  They're great fun to ride, until your friends see you own them.

Thu, 07/12/2012 - 13:20 | 2610373 DanDaley
DanDaley's picture

I think I'll have a Coke, please.

Thu, 07/12/2012 - 13:00 | 2610307 margaris
margaris's picture

hey popo, are you an ass connaisseur like me?

How can you call yourself popo but NOT like fat asses?

Fat is the essence of every ass.

I prefer a fat ass over a bony ass always!

Thu, 07/12/2012 - 12:26 | 2610187 NooooB
NooooB's picture

Well, truthfully, it is one of the other. Babe/not babe (ghastly) with about a 20/80 split.

(disclosure) I am a dual US Portuguese national.

Thu, 07/12/2012 - 12:36 | 2610212 AvoidingTaxation
AvoidingTaxation's picture

Ahmeexnal... spot on as usual.

Thu, 07/12/2012 - 13:16 | 2610366 Mr Lennon Hendrix
Mr Lennon Hendrix's picture

He is usually spot on, except when he is discussing peak oil.

Thu, 07/12/2012 - 12:38 | 2610221 Silver Bug
Silver Bug's picture

Sadly many people are giving up hope. IF they had the knowledge to invest in gold and silver before hand, they would of protected themselves somewhat.

Thu, 07/12/2012 - 13:27 | 2610409 OpenThePodBayDoorHAL
OpenThePodBayDoorHAL's picture

If you don't mind a squat body, Catholic attitude, and plenty of facial and body hair....babe-a-licious!

Thu, 07/12/2012 - 15:33 | 2610805 Imminent Crucible
Imminent Crucible's picture

Why is Simple Simon wasting our time with tales of Portuguese women? I want to hear about Greece and that gal, Ulika Myfatassamous.

Thu, 07/12/2012 - 14:23 | 2610580 sgt_doom
sgt_doom's picture


I've got enough competition as a homely looking guy --- let's keep that item about Portuguese women our secret, OK?

Plus, great coffee....

Thu, 07/12/2012 - 12:04 | 2610106 Shermanium
Shermanium's picture

Detroit is a city that I’ve always enjoyed, full of warm, welcoming people, excellent wine, and great weather.

Thu, 07/12/2012 - 12:15 | 2610141 barkingbill
barkingbill's picture

yeah that detroit wine. ehmmm ehmmm....

Thu, 07/12/2012 - 12:21 | 2610151 Burr's 2nd Shot
Burr's 2nd Shot's picture

Thunderbird is a wine.

What's the word? / Thunderbird / How's it sold? / Good and cold / What's the jive? / Bird's alive / What's the price? / Thirty twice.


Thu, 07/12/2012 - 12:33 | 2610202 roadhazard
roadhazard's picture

... / who drinks the most / you colored folks



Thu, 07/12/2012 - 12:35 | 2610209 Manthong
Manthong's picture

A relaxing mid-morning  wine tasting, al fresco, in Bernanke and Obama’s New America:

Thu, 07/12/2012 - 12:36 | 2610213 jack in the box
jack in the box's picture

I prefer Mad Dog 20/20 for my palate


Thu, 07/12/2012 - 13:28 | 2610412 MrButtoMcFarty
MrButtoMcFarty's picture

Down in the Bootheel of Missouri that fine refreshment is more commonly known as "Mellow Delight".


Cheers Bitchez!

Thu, 07/12/2012 - 18:53 | 2611327 bank guy in Brussels
bank guy in Brussels's picture

Hey, thanks, that's a hilarious site on cheap wines favoured by bums and winos  ... over 2 million views!

For example, from their review of the 18% alcohol wine 'Cisco':

« ... Known as "liquid crack," for its reputation for wreaking more mental havoc than the cheapest tequila.  ...  In 1991, Cisco's tendency to cause a temporary form of inebriated insanity led the Federal Trade Commission to require its bottlers to print a warning on the label (above right).  The FTC also forced them to drop their marketing slogan, "Takes You by Surprise," even though it was entirely accurate.  »

Thu, 07/12/2012 - 22:53 | 2611803 Burr's 2nd Shot
Burr's 2nd Shot's picture

Good stuff.  Only thing missing was the tasting notes from the sterno/government cheese tasting.

Looking for expert advice here, is sterno a liquor or a wine?

Thu, 07/12/2012 - 12:30 | 2610198 Abiotic Oil
Abiotic Oil's picture

What's wrong with Night Train?

Thu, 07/12/2012 - 12:41 | 2610237 knukles
knukles's picture

What's wrong with Detriot?
MD2020 and Nitetrain in the coolers.
A pint of vodka in every pocket.
A chicken in every shack.

I'm was Born in Detriot
Whata fucking dump

Thu, 07/12/2012 - 12:48 | 2610258 ATM
ATM's picture

That is being very unfair to dumps.

Thu, 07/12/2012 - 16:11 | 2610946 Anusocracy
Anusocracy's picture

Detroit was a victim of its residents.

Fri, 07/13/2012 - 00:47 | 2611951 Hulk
Hulk's picture

My girlfriend told me to kiss her where it stinks.

so I took her to Detroit...

Thu, 07/12/2012 - 14:10 | 2610553 John_Coltrane
John_Coltrane's picture

Not to mention rabbits-for food or pets.

Let's have a report from this author or Detroit or Stockton-could be very amusing.

Thu, 07/12/2012 - 15:13 | 2610730 TSA gropee
TSA gropee's picture

Yeah, and the night life is to die for...

Thu, 07/12/2012 - 12:06 | 2610113 Rich Bagg
Rich Bagg's picture

Simon Black is a Douchebag Moron.



Thu, 07/12/2012 - 12:18 | 2610145 Popo
Popo's picture

Seriously, how many different ways can he write "It's better over here in  [ insert country name here ]"

I travel a lot (and live abroad) and so far, most of the countries Simon writes about he has been clueless about.   He has literally no idea what it's like to run a business in most other countries,  or deal with legal disputes,  or licensing issues  or  deal with offshore tax issues.

Not only is his message idiotically bland, but he misses the elephant in the room in 100% of his posts on US based blogs:   Americans must pay US taxes when living abroad.   

He's a cheap blogger backpacking around the world and pretending he has a "message".   


Thu, 07/12/2012 - 12:27 | 2610189 Cathartes Aura
Cathartes Aura's picture

back in those wild wild west history days, guys would travel from place to place shilling tonics & snake oils, "miracle potions" and daft schemes.

they'd always hightail it out to the next town before anyone could test their "thesis" -

simon black, nothing new under the sun. . .

Thu, 07/12/2012 - 13:21 | 2610384 CharlieSDT
CharlieSDT's picture

I appreciate the on-the-ground info.


Chicks are super hot in Bulgaria, and it's even cheaper.

Thu, 07/12/2012 - 16:52 | 2611082 Cathartes Aura
Cathartes Aura's picture

aye, figures it would be you that points out the bargain basement fucks.

have cawk, will travel.  the new amrkn standard.

Thu, 07/12/2012 - 22:47 | 2611795 merizobeach
merizobeach's picture

Do as you like, so long as you stay out of Asia where I live, USuckAss-ians.

Thu, 07/12/2012 - 12:38 | 2610224 AvoidingTaxation
AvoidingTaxation's picture

Perhaps, but this is spot on. No young people in Porto. I have seen it last year for myself.


5. Lack of productive youth

There is a noticeable, disproportionate lack of young people between the ages of 15 to 35 or so.

It seems that much of Portugal’s youth is heading to greener pastures, most notably to Brazil where they can easily obtain residency, find a job, and integrate into society… or to frontier markets like Angola (a former colony with a booming resource economy).

No doubt, people with skills and courage are getting the hell out.

Thu, 07/12/2012 - 13:06 | 2610334 Jay
Jay's picture

I appreciate his perspective. What's incorrect about his take on Portugal? The first $87k is tax exempt for Americans living abroad if you stay out of the US 330 days in a calendar year. I can get by on that nicely, so I want to know what it's like over there--especially for the things that are important to me. Simon gives me some data points. Props to him.

Thu, 07/12/2012 - 13:39 | 2610455 FeralSerf
FeralSerf's picture

$87K in earned income!  It's pretty unlikely that you would get a job in Portugal that would pay you $87K per year.

Thu, 07/12/2012 - 22:45 | 2611791 merizobeach
merizobeach's picture

"Americans must pay US taxes when living abroad."  Sucker.  Pardon me.

I've lived abroad since '96 and haven't paid a dime in income taxes since then--not locally, and certainly not to the terrorist government of the USuckAss.  So I don't know what you're going on about.  I left in part because of the insufferable society and partly because I didn't want to be a tax-paying war-supporter, but if that's ok for you, then keep paying it.  Some folks like being complicit and having the blood of innocent foreign nationals on their hands.

Thu, 07/12/2012 - 12:24 | 2610177 i-dog
i-dog's picture

Don't you have homework to do, or toys to put away?

Thu, 07/12/2012 - 12:08 | 2610122 JackT
JackT's picture

Drowning vicitms bob up and down a few times before finally going under. 

Thu, 07/12/2012 - 12:30 | 2610199 CrashisOptimistic
CrashisOptimistic's picture

"To give you an idea, I’m renting a spacious 3-bedroom, 2000 square foot luxury apartment in a new(ish) development that was completed during the real estate boom a few years ago. It’s costing me a whopping $60/night."


You're overpaying.  That apartment would be $20/night in Cebu, Philippines, that country's 2nd largest city.

Thu, 07/12/2012 - 13:26 | 2610403 CharlieSDT
CharlieSDT's picture

Yeah, but it's all ladyboys in Cebu.  I'll take the Protuguese fat chicks over that.

Thu, 07/12/2012 - 23:05 | 2611821 merizobeach
merizobeach's picture

Might you be saying that Portugal is the Philippines of Europe?  That would be funny because the Philippines is already the Mexico of Asia...

The Philippines is an interesting case study.  It's an Asian-Pacific nation, and it has a high population like Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea, and Japan, and four times that of Taiwan.  Yet dramatically unlike those other countries, the Phillipines is remarkably a shithole muddling through to nowhere.  (At least Vietnam can point to its brutal recent history to account for its low level of development, and it is developing and raising living standards very rapidly.)  Why is the Philippines comparitively so unproductive, uneducated, and lacking progress?  I'll posit a theory: it's because they're fundamentalist Catholics; those stupid breeders don't believe in science, even as they use a cell phone, and it's their religious indoctrination that's at fault.

In the Catholic welfare state of Guam, the church even tells people how to vote.  But maybe they do that everywhere; I wouldn't know. :-)

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