Catherine McLean Journalistin/Texterin/Übersetzerin

U.S. cranks up the heat on Swiss bankers

Published February 12, 2012 in The Globe and Mail

Until recently, the quiet Swiss town of St. Gallen was best known for the medieval manuscripts housed in its abbey library.

But lately the city has had to grapple with a less pious claim to fame: St. Gallen is home to Wegelin, a private bank indicted by U.S. authorities this month for allegedly helping rich Americans evade taxes.

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For many Germans, the euro crisis remains a non-event

Published January 29, 2012 in The Globe and Mail

It’s a rainy winter day outside, but inside his office the head of economic development for the southern German city of Constance is explaining why the outlook for his country is sunny, despite the continent’s persistent debt crisis.

All of Constance’s industries – ranging from manufacturing firms to shops to tourism – reported “outstanding” results in 2011, according to Friedhelm Schaal, the city’s head of economic development.

And far from fearing a meltdown in 2012, the year has instead started “very promisingly,” he said. “The real economy held up extremely well.”

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Why Canadian brands lose their accents abroad

Published January 12, 2012 in The Globe and Mail

Go shopping abroad and you're likely to run into some well-known "Canadian" brands - Club Monaco clothing, MAC beauty products, La Senza lingerie.

But don't feel too patriotic: The roots of all three consumer brands have been transplanted to the United States after takeovers. Estée Lauder snapped up a majority stake in MAC Cosmetics in 1994; Ralph Lauren bought Club Monaco in 1999; and Limited Brands Inc. purchased La Senza in 2007.

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Scandals muddy Swiss and German image

Published January 10, 2012 in The Globe and Mail

Switzerland and Germany have earned reputations as safe spots to invest during Europe’s economic crisis, but recent domestic scandals are attracting international attention of a less-desirable nature.

The Swiss have been shaken by allegations of improper foreign exchange trading by former Swiss National Bank chief Philipp Hildebrand, who stepped down on Monday.

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Bookies offer odds on euro zone breakup

Published January 3, 2012 in The Globe and Mail

The euro just celebrated its 10th anniversary this weekend, but it isn’t exactly basking in praise and congratulations.

Instead, the currency finds itself the target of rampant breakup speculation as experts predict a rupture and bookmakers take bets on its collapse.

The U.K.’s Centre for Economics and Business Research kicked off the New Year by predicting the single European currency could start to fall apart this year.

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Scrooge takes up residence in Greece

Published November 8, 2011 in The Globe and Mail

The Greeks may be balking at further spending cuts by their government, but they are voluntarily tightening their own belts in one area: Christmas presents.

According to Deloitte's annual Christmas Spending Survey, the Greeks will be among Europe's thriftiest citizens this holiday season. Each household plans to spend, on average, €319 ($446 Canadian) on Christmas gifts this year, a 22 per cent drop from the previous year. That puts them in second place behind the Dutch, who plan to spend just €260 on gifts.

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It’s true, bankers really do control the world: study

Published October 25, 2011 in The Globe and Mail

Here’s a gift to Occupy Wall Street protesters around the world: you now have scholarly proof that banks control the world.

Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, also known as ETH, have published a paper that argues just 147 companies account for a large chunk of the total economic value of all the transnational companies around the world. No exact dollar figures, but it’s obviously a vast sum.

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Chinese banks leave footprint in Europe

Published October 19, 2011 in The Globe and Mail

Several times a year, a group of Chinese banking managers fly to Frankfurt to study at Goethe University's business school.

The intensive training course is packed with lessons ranging from Europe's economic situation to its banking systems and regulations. The program at the university's China Executive Education Center even includes time with officials at Germany's central bank, the European Central Bank and the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.

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Is a housing bubble drifting toward Switzerland?

Published October 19, 2011 in The Globe and Mail

The charming semi-detached house is perfect for a family: spacious with a beautiful view of the city, lake and surrounding mountains.

The problem is that very few households can afford this 200 square-metre home in Zurich, which has a rather robust asking price of 5.6 million Swiss francs ($6.39-million Canadian).

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Swiss move heats up currency war

Published September 7, 2011 in The Globe and Mail

Switzerland is moving aggressively to weaken its franc and protect exports from watches to chocolates, sparking fears of an escalating currency war that would ripple through other economies.

For months, the Swiss National Bank tried to rein in its surging currency by lowering interest rates and injecting francs into the market, but that did little to dissuade investors who viewed the franc as one of the few safe places to keep their money in a world of economic turmoil.

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