Saturday, 4 February 2017

Eat Spanish Food to Boost Brainpower

Eat Spanish Food to Boost Brainpower There are many benefits to eating the Spanish Mediterranean diet, but the idea that it could actually make you smarter sounds just too far out there.

There is a new study, however, that suggests eating plenty of fresh fruit and veg, fish, and olive oil could stop your brain from shrinking during the aging process; something that would keep away all the cognitive decline that comes with age.

The University of Edinburgh say that the brain begins to shed brain cells as we age and it can lead to people having difficulty forming and retaining memories. This has been known for a long time in the medical world. The study by Dr Michelle Luciano discovered that the Mediterranean diet positively impacted brain health, and could potentially protect it in the long run.

University scientists looked at the dietary information provided by 401 people aged 70 and scanned their brains two more times; when they turned 73 and when they turned 76. Scientists were looking at the thickness of the cerebral cortex and overall brain volume.

The result was that the brains of the people who ate plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts and fresh fish were in better shape.

Dr Clare Walton of the Alzheimer’s Society said that the evidence eating healthy diets rich in fruits, veg, and fish is good for your brain and can improve memory is only increasing. The brain shrinks by 1-2% per year during old age and the study suggests the process can be dramatically slowed down by eating a Mediterranean diet.

So that’s that then; if you want to live a long and happy life and keep your brain healthy you should pack your bags and head to Spain!

Friday, 3 February 2017

The Top Three Trends Shaping Spain in 2017

The Top Three Trends Shaping Spain in 2017

Spain is breaking all records
The new year is here and we’re officially living in 2017. Given the way that 2016 ended you wouldn’t be blamed for wondering what misery awaits us in 2017. While things aren’t looking too good for many places there’s a lot to be hopeful for in Spain.

Of course Spain went through some pretty tough times a few years ago, with things slowly coming back together since 2013. It all lead up to the record breaking year that was 2016 in terms of tourism and job creation, low cost of living and with strong metrics seen elsewhere.

All of which suggests 2017 is going to be just as good with many experts re-assessing their predictions and calling Spain one of the shining stars of Europe.

Here are the top three trends shaping Spain in 20117.

A Rise in GDP

The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Spain grew by just over 3% in 2016, and it’s expected to grow another 3% in 2017. If you don’t feel that 3% is all that much, then keep in mind that if the Spanish GDP were to grow 3% it would make Spain one of the top 5 economic performers in Europe; outperforming even Germany and France. The rise in GDP leads to a rise in job creation as Spain had their lowest unemployment rate since 2009 in 2016 with unemployment kept below 19%.

More Homes and Hotels

Around 10% of the GDP for Spain last year came from construction. If the GDP continues to grow then it’s reasonable to assume that construction will grow with it. While the country is likely never going to repeat the home development peak of 2007, where some million homes were built, it’s being predicted by experts that Spain could welcome some 400,000 new homes per year, with around 200,000 expected to be built in 2017. In terms of commercial real estate CBRE are predicting that over €10 billion will be spent on developing new offices, hotels, and resorts across Spain this year.

More Record Breaking Tourism Numbers

We don’t have the numbers for how 2016 ended just yet, but everything is indicating that it could very well have been the best year ever for tourism with an estimated 75 million tourists flocking to the country in 2016. Not only is this a new record, but it would also make Spain the most visited country in the world. It’s not hard to see why people come to Spain; not only is there sun, sea, sand, and sangria, but Spain is also affordable, accessible, and varied. It has also managed to stay relatively safe compared to countries such as France, Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia. These trends are expected to continue into 2017 as the Confederation of Spanish Travel Agencies (CEAV) are predicting that Spain could see over 80 million tourists in 2017, with the numbers spread more evenly across 2017 than 2016. If you’re planning on staying in a perennially popular destination such as the Costa del Sol this year  then you should definitely book early!

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Data Shows Spain has Regained Half of Jobs Lost During Recession

Data Shows Spain has Regained Half of Jobs Lost During Recession
Spain really turned things around in 2016 and it looks like the success is set to continue into 2017. One particularly great statistic is that the Labour Ministry released data showing that Spain has now recovered 1.7 million of the 3.5 million jobs that were lost in the country during the recession.
Spain is recovering from all downturns even jobs

Over 540,000 Spanish people entered the workforce during 2016. This was the largest annual employment growth in over a decade and is a sign that the country has managed to succeed following the post-election reforms; adjusting perfectly to the improving economic situations of Europe.

Labour Minister Fátima Báñez says that there were 390,534 less people registered as unemployed in 2016; the largest drop ever in unemployment. Báñez said that the year was filled with confidence and hope and, while the journey isn’t over yet, Spain will continue to create jobs thanks to the efforts of everyone involved.

It’s incredible to look at the most recent employment charts for Spain. Around 2008 there was a sharp dip in the amount of Spaniards registered as employees (meaning they had a social security number), and it reached a peak low of 16.2 million in 2013. There has been an encouraging rise since then, and it’s expect that there will be over 18 million people in work by the end of 2017; the first time this number has been reached since 2009, before the recession really crippled the country.

There’s a lot of optimism to go around following a growth in GDP of 3% last year, along with predictions that this year will see similar rises and the cost of living being kept low. The end of the political deadlock after 10-months of seemingly endless fighting has also come to an end and left behind a government in the People’s Party that will need to learn the value of compromise.

While some are worried about the influence that the far-left Podemos and the centre-let Socialists could have on the PP, and that it could lead to less of the successful labour reforms Mariano Rajoy introduced when he held a majority government not being allowed to pass anymore, there are some economists who feel that the country can survive without additional reform.

It looks like the most sensible move to make would be to continue on the current path. Báñez says that the PP is ready to sit down with the other political parties to discuss how labour reforms could be improved, and promised that none of the changes to laws implemented, such as making it easier or employees to be hired and fired, would be repealed.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

The Costas Have Everything; Including snow!

The Costas Have Everything; Including snow!

Last weeks Snow in the Costa del Sol

The idea of 320 days of sunshine is part of the mythos of the Costa del Sol; the idea that you get almost endless sunny days, which only serves to enhance the natural beauty of the region.

Of course, having 320 days of sunshine begs the question of what happens during the other 45 days of the year. The answer is pretty easy. Winter in the Costas is a little fresher than summer, and it does bring some clouds with it that can block out the sun.

The weather in the southern regions of Spain is hardly predictable except for a few things that are certain; there will be two or three heavy deluges; there will be unseasonable warmth, and there will be an occasional biting wind from the sea.

Snow, on the other hand, is very rare. There could be the odd bit of snow on top of the mountains behind the resorts in January, but Malaga hasn’t seen snow on the ground in decades especially Marbella.

There’s a chance this could all change this year. Spain is in the middle of the coldest winter in over 35 years, with temperatures in the Pyrenees mountains reaching -15 Celsius. They Pyrenees mountains can hardly be called southern Spain, but even Alicante and Murcia saw a little bit of snow. It’s expected that snow could fall Cueta – the little Spanish enclave south of Marbella – for the first time since 1993.

It's quite a sight indeed to see snow on the normally sandy beaches of Orihuela and Torrevieja. Many believe that it just adds to the allure of the region, making it a place where the weather can still surprise you, despite normally being inviting and clement. Those who aren’t fans of the snow don’t need to worry; the long days and warm air of March are just a few weeks away.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Spanish Mortgage Approvals are up 16.8% in October 2016

Spanish Mortgage Approvals are up 16.8% in October 2016

The recovery is working well in Spain and the next 7 years
look fantastic
October 2016 marked the third consecutive month of Spanish mortgage approvals increasing following increases of 6.4% and 10% in August and September respectively.

The Spanish National Statistics Institute (INE) released provisional data last month that showed that the amount of mortgage approvals noted by the Property Registers was 22,581 in October; an increase of 16.8% compared to October 2015.

This marks the third consecutive month with rising mortgage approvals after a 6.4% increase in August and a 10% rise in September. It won’t come as a surprise to learn that the most approvals occurred in the autonomous regions of Andalucía (4,513), Madrid (3,904), and Catalunya (3,561). In terms of where the most money was lent the leaders were Madrid (€593.7 million), Catalunya (€450.3 million) and Andalucía (€423.8 million).

71.4% of the mortgages approved in October were made under variable rates, with 26.8% of them being fixed rate loans.

Monday, 30 January 2017

IMF Praises Spanish Economy Recovery

IMF Praises Spanish Economy Recovery

The Spanish economic recovery has been praised by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the global organisation dedicated to financial stability. They praised the country for undergoing such an impressive turnaround just a few years after suffering from one of the worst recessions of the modern era.

IMF said in their most recently country assessment that the Spanish economy has continued to recover and create jobs. The reforms and measures taken to improve confidence really paid off for the country. This, combined with fiscal loosening and external windfalls has powered the Spanish economic recovery of the past two years.

IMF also praised private consumption, investments, and exports, with a special mention for the past reforms of the government for being a driving force in bringing success and confidence back to the economy.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was the one running things during the lean years, and is now back for his second term as PM. IMF expects that his second term will be known for further positive news for the economy. The IMF particularly praised Rajoy’s reforms of the labour market in 2012, which IMF says supported job creation and growth.

As great as the praise was it wasn’t entirely universal, as the report made the point that the current political climate isn’t good for reforms. Rajoy may be prime minister, but he doesn’t have an absolute majority so any major changes he wants to make could be blocked by his political opponents including the PSOE.

The IMF also made the point that, while the country has good prospects for medium-term growth, it needs to do something about the high amount of structural unemployment in the long term. IMF suggest taking steps to increase the size of domestic companies and removing the barriers for trade between the different regions of Spain.

Even with these suggestions though it’s hard to deny that the Spanish economic recovery has been both surprising and encouraging. The report from the IMF concluded that employment in Spain has risen over 3% annually, with just over a million jobs created in the past two years; a growth that has been supported by reforms to the labour market and wage moderation.