|Hiring at the other side of the Mediterranean: GDPs|
Israel 3.3% vs .01% (France) -1% (Spain) 2.3% (U.S.)
In France, the talk was about taxing millionaires and the scandal over former President Sarkozy's apparent money-grubbing from the L'Oreal heiress, Liliane Bettencourt (see 10 richest list below). In Southern Spain, it was about finding new tourists and the spectacle of Semana Santa - Easter Week. In Israel, it was Obama's visit and the backlash over the quantity of multinational companies in Israel. There are so many Israelis working for them that the public has begun kvetching - enough to inspire a major newspaper to calm them down with a Passover article about loving thy multinational. Southern Europe should have this problem.
[Note - only Americans get the chill when they see the conical capirote and masks which are a pre-medieval tradition allowing the penitents to hide their identities. Leave it to the USA and the KKK to take the penitence right out of that ceremony!]
Even so, it would be hard to tell that either Paris or Spain was suffering economically. The social net is broad in Spain. In France, you only see it in the hardscrabble tenements on the outskirts of town and the satellite cities on the way to the airport. In Spain, the giveaway is the mass of real estate signage and in the Costa Del Sol, it's concrete apartment skeletons and blocks of empty mansions waiting for new tax exiles and dubious businessfolk from northern Europe and Russia.
|Zara’s Amancio Ortega|
Billionaire Count: US 425,
France 24, Spain 20, Israel 17
Pop: US 319m, Fr. 68m, Sp. 48m, Isr. 7.9m
Spain’s Ortega also harnessed the creative element of Spanish culture – design – arguably putting him, at some level, in the same class as both Picasso, the groundbreaking iconocast as well as the devoutly Catholic architect of Barcelona, Antoni Gaudi. It is a little more complicated than that: Zara is known as an expert copier of others' ideas and has no famous in-house designer - there are no stars, everyone carries the Zara trono. The fact that it originates from the same Galician region in the north as the former dictator, Francisco Franco is not entirely lost on the media either and the empire is known for its secrecy and lack of advertising. Picasso's genius is as much about art breakthrough as it is "improving" on others ideas. He is attributed by many, including Steve Jobs for saying, "good artists borrow, great artists steal." Finding Picasso's "victims" is as much a beloved pasttime of art historians as is the media finding Zara's supposed knock-offs.
While Israel has no one in the Forbes top 10 or even top 100 list, it does have 17 billionaires which, if you scale the economies (7.5 million vs. 48 million) makes them extraordinary. If you throw in Sheldon Adelson (Comdex and casinos) and maybe Michael Bloomberg (financial data terminals) as honorary Israelis, you see how innovation-driven wealth has reflected well on their economies. Where Spain gives welfare to businesses only to stimulate bureaucrats, the US and Israel have, in critical ways, fostered the cascading effect of venture money.
|A typical Spanish building |
in the background
|Gypsies playing to well-heeled tourists|
So here is my suggestion: Rubberized bulls horns, Kevlar toreador suits and as for the picadors – the guys who slow down the bulls by stabbing them with lances – tasers bro’. I’ve been told there is no chance of anything like this happening but if I could, I would gladly spend my days in a charming seaside village in the Costa del Sol. Hey, I’ll even open a bagel joint.