newport international group barcelona, Greece and Spain: the comeback kids
In the Athens riots of February, 2012, the city centre turned into a war zone. Dozens of buildings were torched and the streets overflowed with battling rioters and police. The austerity backlash was evolving into civil war. I covered the riots, and I was certain that Greece’s economy was doomed. I waited for the moment when Greece would hightail it out of the euro zone, taking down Spain, Portugal and even Italy.
Scroll forward to the early summer of 2013. The sleek new Athens hotel where I am staying, appropriately called New Hotel, is packed even though it’s not cheap. Ditto Black Sheep, a simple restaurant near the old Olympic stadium that opened last year and specializes in top-quality local ingredients. It cannot guarantee a dinner reservation on less than a week’s notice. In a northern suburb of Athens, Diwine, a new wine bar that doubles as a nightclub, is alive on weekday evenings with young, well-groomed clients.
Economists refer to the mini-eruptions of new businesses in distressed economies as “green shoots.” To be sure, Greece is not saved and reprinting the disgraced old drachma is not out of the question if the country is hit with another political and financial shock wave. Greece’s economy has been shrinking for five years and unemployment was 27 per cent in Apr...