Madrid has just 576 taxi licenses more than the ones it had before democracy came, in 1974: if there were 15,000 then it now has 15,576 according to the data of the Ministry of Public Works and the Taxi White Paper. This same phenomenon is experienced in Barcelona where there are now 459 fewer licenses than in 1994, when in the province there were 12,329 according to the INE. Is freezing of licenses issued in recent decades has caused an appreciation within the secondary market above that of the Ibex, the housing prices, the inflation or pension plans.
Thus, the licenses in Madrid since 1994 have appreciated 137% from the 51,086 euros -8.5 million pesetas at the time, according to the council's estimate of those years- up to 121,000 euros. Those of Barcelona they have gone from 29,837 euros to 135,089 in these 25 years, 352% more. A revaluation that exceeds that of the main financial assets and that of inflation, which from 1994 to 2018 has collected an increase in prices of 71.1% according to the INE.
«Over time, taxi licenses, which in a competitive market would be worthless, they have become an asset with a high profitability, superior to that of other assets, such as stock market assets», Indicated the National Commission of Markets and Competition (CNMC) in a report of 2017 on the regulation of taxi and VTC.
Because if there is a financial asset in which asset managers recommend savers to invest to obtain higher long-term returns is the Exchange. As well, since 1994 the Ibex 35 accumulates an increase of 134.8%, slightly below the 137% revaluation that the Madrid taxi licenses have had in the secondary market and very far from the price increase of 353% of the authorizations in Barcelona.
The gap is infinitely greater if the evolution of the main selective Spanish stock market compares with the difference of the administrative price of those licenses and that they have reached in the market. Although to this day neither Madrid nor Barcelona are granting licenses-they have not done so for years-their administrative price is around 500 euros, according to the tax ordinances. This means that in the case of Madrid licenses are purchased at 242 times the administrative price and 274 times in the case of the Ciudad Condal.
In its report this month on the taxi and the VTCs, the body chaired by José María Marín Quemada denounces that the system of awarding and buying and selling taxi licenses also involves granting a regulatory and monopolistic rent to the holder of the authorization.
Or what is the same: to be given for life, its owners have achieved a valuable asset that in many cases serves to finance the retirement of its owners. In fact, its revaluation in the secondary market in the last 25 years is much higher than the profitability, for example, of pension plans, a specific product for retirement to which 9.63 million Spaniards entrust their savings.
According to data from Inverco, pension plans marketed in Spain have obtained an average annual return of 2.54% over the last 15 years -3.67% in the last 25-, well below the annual profitability of the 9 , 02% experienced by the taxi licenses in Barcelona. On the other hand, the weighted average annual profitability of investment funds, another saving formula that is increasingly widespread among savers, does not even reach 2% (1.91%) in those 15 years.
However, this profitability is still in turmoil in the current context of the taxi sector. In the last year, the price of taxi licenses fell both in Madrid and Barcelona. And that these permits have not yet recovered, much less, the levels prior to the economic crisis, when they came to haunt the 250,000 euros.
«More than 80,000 families live on these assets, which have even been used as a bank guarantee. Many people have borrowed to buy a license, now it is difficult to change this situation, "explains Ignacio Palomar, Servilegal lawyer.
Speculation also among VTCs
But not only has the taxi licenses been speculated. The secondary market for driver license permits (VTC) has been boiling since the creation of Uber and Cabify, which operate with these permits. Thus, authorizations that were paid at the time about 35 administrative procedures in the Community of Madrid now around 60,000 euros. To avoid speculation, the previous Executive approved a decree that obliged the owners of these licenses to keep them at least two years before reselling them. But this has not deflated for the moment the price of these authorizations.
On the other hand, the experts of the sector do believe that the norm recently approved by the Generalitat, which condemns VTCs for pre-contracting and has in practice resulted in the expulsion of Uber and Cabify from Barcelona, will have an impact on the price of VTCs . "If everything continues as it is today in Catalonia, the price of VTC licenses will fall in the coming months, while the price of the taxi will go up. In Madrid, if there are no changes, the VTC will continue to rise, although you have to see how many licenses remain to be enabled, "explains Servilegal's lawyer.