Catherine McLean Freelance Writer

Swiss mull slashing 'fat-cat' salaries

Published November 20, 2012 in The Local

Attention all high-flying executives in Switzerland: go ahead and splurge on diamonds, fine art and vintage champagne this holiday season because next year you may be tightening your belts.

The Swiss will vote on an initiative in March that could put an end to the big pay hikes of top managers at publicly-listed companies in the country.

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Canadian children's cartoons find an international appeal

Published October 4, 2012 in The Globe and Mail

Far away in distant lands, some of Canada’s most beloved cartoon characters such as Franklin the Turtle and Benjamin Bear rule the airwaves. Canadian children’s cartoons are popular around the world, snapped up by broadcasters in dozens of countries including the United States, Germany, France and Egypt.

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Switzerland, Liechtenstein: what's the difference?

Published September 18, 2012 in The Local

Passing over a bridge, the Rhine river flowing below, it’s hard to tell that we have left Switzerland and are entering the tiny principality of Liechtenstein.

There are no border guards waiting to examine passports. The houses look the same, as does the mountainous landscape. People go shopping at the Coop supermarket chain, just like in Switzerland. Liechtenstein even uses the same currency: the Swiss franc.

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How an aging population will kill the American Dream

Published September 5, 2012 in The Globe and Mail

The American dream is coming to an end and it’s the nice, grey-haired lady next door who is to blame, economist Laurence Kotlikoff told a banking conference in Zurich this week.

That dream of prosperity – owning a home, building a business, perhaps even striking it rich – was a tantalizing prospect for generations of Americans. But it’s fading quickly thanks to a critical shift in demographics towards a much older population coupled with what Mr. Kotlikoff terms the “Ponzi” retirement scheme of recent decades.

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Europe's banking centres forge new business model

Published September 3, 2012 in The Globe and Mail

“Challenge” was the word of the day at a conference in Zurich as top executives, government and regulatory officials and even a prince gathered to discuss the uncertain future of their key banking industries, which have come under intense pressure in recent years.

Bankers are not exactly popular anywhere in the world right now, but those hailing from the European offshore wealth centres of Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg have suffered bigger blows.

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One more reason why your kids should eat breakfast

Published September 2, 2012 in The Globe and Mail

Here’s a good reason to cook up that morning oatmeal: It could help transform your kid into the next Usain Bolt.

A recent study of 656 schoolchildren in Winterthur, Switzerland, showed that children who skip the most important meal of the day are less fit. The researchers tested the kids’ abilities in five different areas: the 20-metre sprint, the shuttle run, standing long jump, sidewise jumping over a bar, and tapping between two circles with one hand.

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For the Swiss, a year of living on the edge

Published August 24, 2012 in The Globe and Mail

The luxurious Gstaad Palace in the Swiss Alps is a beloved vacation spot for those who can afford to pay 990 Swiss francs ($1,023) for a luxury facial and 1,600 francs for an overnight stay in a rustic but well-appointed mountain hut.

This summer is different. Whether it’s business leaders forgoing their annual retreat to the mountains or well-off pensioners cutting back on vacations, Gstaad Palace’s revenue fell 21 per cent this summer, according to Andrea Scherz, whose family has owned the hotel for the past 65 years.

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Swiss fight reputation as dirty money haven

Published August 6, 2012 in The Globe and Mail

Valentin Zellweger is on a mission to fight a perception shared around the world by the rich and penniless alike: that Switzerland is a haven for dirty money.

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Canadian companies are hunting for European buys

Published July 26, 2012 in The Globe and Mail

Late last year, two top Molson Coors Brewing Co. executives went to scope out a potential acquisition target in a fast-growing market: Eastern Europe. While mindful of the debt crisis holding Western Europe hostage, Molson Coors chief executive officer Peter Swinburn and Kandy Anand, president of the company’s international business, nevertheless saw attractive opportunities a bit farther east.

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Etiquette in Switzerland: tips and pitfalls

Published July 25, 2012 in The Local

Switzerland is a tiny country of some 7.7 million people surrounded by four far-larger neighbours: France, Germany, Italy and Austria. Yet despite its small size, it seems everyone has an opinion about what life is like in Switzerland. For some the mountainous country is a beautiful, pristine paradise. For others it’s uptight, conservative and downright boring.

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