Spain’s Growth Due To More International Focus

_MG_9716For much of its recent history Spanish economic growth has been quantitative, focusing on catching up with the rest of Europe and establishing the same level of infrastructure, services and consumer levels. As a result it was a largely inward-looking economy until recently. A process that gathered further pace as prosperity rose in the 1980s and a spate of new shopping malls, airports, highways, holiday resorts, theme parks and residential projects responded to the needs of a country that had reached the consumer levels of an advanced economy by the 1990s.

The credit boom of the 2000s added further fuel to it but the financial crisis of 2008 left Spain reeling and in need of a new direction for the future. Just as many of its neighbours had experienced before, the shift from post-war recovery aided by the Marshall Plan to a more qualitative recipe for economic growth required a more international, export-oriented focus.

Smaller countries such as The Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden had been doing this for decades, but by 2010 a noticeable push towards the outer world was visible in Spanish corporate circles. Naturally there have always been Spanish companies exporting, and in a way it ‘exports’ its tourist and residential resources too, but since the financial crisis there has been a marked focus on expanding this and offering Spanish products and services to the world.

New sources of growth for Spain
To be successful on the international scene requires flexibility, creativity and commercial ability along with an excellent offering. It helps to spur quality and innovation back home and makes a country more competitive, with a greater focus on education and commercial and linguistic skills, and by 2016 the benefits were already showing.

In spite of being without a government – and the public projects approved by one – for most of 2016, the Spanish economy performed better than expected to become one of the fastest-growing in Europe, outshining Germany, the UK, US and Japan with its 3.3% expansion over 2015.

Naturally much of this is down to traditional sectors such as construction, tourism, retail and domestic consumption, but record exports and a growing trade surplus are helping to spur growth and produce the kind of results seen last year. As Spanish entrepreneurs travel the world and hone their skills, the level of professionalism will grow along with opportunities.

Already universities are working with overseas institutions and corporations to encourage a culture of commercial aptitude and creativity among young graduates, and the rapidly growing number of start-ups are the result. “The fundamentals of the Spanish economy are sound, the banks are recapitalised and lending again, unemployment is dropping and tourism is booming,” says Michael Liggan, CEO of the Marbella-based real estate agency Altavista Property. “A reduction in taxes would further boost the economy, but even with that we expect a continuation of strong growth for 2017, along with solid, sustainable growth in tourism and real estate in Marbella.”

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George Michael guitar at MIMMA in Málaga

Malaga,sundownFor his many fans, the announcement at Christmas 2016 that George Michael had died was a huge shock and another blow to the world of music that had seen so many legends leave us, starting with David Bowie last January. This week, Málaga’s Municipal Department for Youth/Área de Juventud announced that a guitar presented to the singer by the city of Málaga in 1989 was being returned for permanent display at MIMMA, Málaga’s museum of music.


The guitar in question is a Gretsch Synchromatic. It’s an acoustic guitar used primarily during the 1930s, 40s and 50s, and George Michael used it after the presentation by Málaga officials. He also signed it and since then it has been kept in a glass case at the Municipal Department for Youth. Now, the Department for Youth plans a series of events and musical activities based on the guitar and the singer before it is moved to its new home at MIMMA.


One of the activities, which will take place in spring, is a tribute concert performed by the winners of the MálagaCrea competition, which aims to find the most talented artists in Andalucía. There will also be a photographic exhibition of the images taken of George Michael during his visit to Málaga in the late eighties, including photos of him holding the guitar.


The Gretsch Synchromatic Guitar

Gretsch was founded in Brooklyn in 1883 and started out making banjos. It expanded into guitars during the 1930s and in 1939 it launched the Synchromatic, with its Art Deco styling, which Gretsch hoped would compete with the market-leading Gibson Super 400. As Collectors Weekly explains: “These acoustic archtops included the top-of-the-line 400, which was designed to do battle in the marketplace with Gibson’s 1935 Super 400. The Synchromatics were unique in that they had a stairstep bridge, a harp-shaped tailpiece, an asymmetrical neck and cat’s-eye sound holes instead of the more traditional-looking f-holes.”


This Gretsch didn’t really slow Gibson’s sales down at the time, but today the Gretsch Synchromatic is considered every bit as collectable as the Gibson 400, and one imagines that a Gretsch played by the late, great George Michael is certainly a collector’s piece of great value. And, you can see it for yourself in Málaga!

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New Properties on the Costa del Sol


After a hiatus of several years, during which very few new homes were built, the construction sector on the Costa del Sol has bounced back strongly with the release of a broad range of contemporary new villas and apartment developments offering today’s buyers the architectural styles, interior layouts and amenities they are after.

Marbella (along with Ibiza and Mallorca) was the first part of Spain to bounce back economically from the financial crisis of 2008. As a result, it was also the first area in the country where new construction began after keen demand had absorbed all previously unfinished properties. Scope for new development is more limited in the Balearic Islands, so it is the Costa del Sol that can boast the most dynamic new-build market in Spain right now. Other areas are or have already followed the same path, most notably Madrid and Barcelona, but once again Southern Spain’s coastal region shows its resilience as strong international demand for its properties and lifestyle fuels the development of a new generation of homes.

21st century homes in Marbella

Apartments-flags 09When the market first returned to strength there was a notable shortage of modern properties featuring the kind of modern architecture, open-plan layouts, 21st century technology and amenities that are so in demand with a new generation of buyers. “There has been a real ‘before and after’ watershed, with tastes and styles changing significantly after 2010,” says Michael Liggan, CEO of Marbella real estate agency, Altavista Property. “The properties being designed and developed right now are responding to this demand, with a good range of apartments and villas in medium to high-end price ranges being offered in locations such as La Cala de Mijas, Elviria, Río Real, Nueva Andalucía, Nueva Alcántara, Atalaya Alta, El Paraíso, Cancelada/Bel Air and Estepona’s New Golden Mile.”

THE EDGE 3Indeed, according to the Sociedad de Tasación (ST) the total number of new properties across the Costa del Sol has reached some 2,428 units. This number indicates the strength of demand – as the new developments are generally selling out before completion of construction – and the health of the Marbella property market, but it is important to remember that it represents a far more sustainable level than during the height of the boom years.

“The demand for modern homes still outstrips supply in Marbella, so at the present rate of construction and price rises there is little danger of a property bubble occurring in the near to mid-term.” Altavista Property is a specialist agent in the field of modern Marbella property, so please contact us if you would like to know more about the finest new Costa del Sol apartments and villas.


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