Global Investing

Germany’s answer to Armani and Versace bids farewell

When I walked into the dome of Berlin’s Bode Museum in July for Escada’s Pink Party at the Berlin fashion week, it seemed no one was quite sure whether we were celebrating the resurrection of Escada or whether this was a bombastic way of saying good-bye.

Today, we know it was the latter. Escada failed to get the support it needed from its bondholders to restructure its debt, which was a precondition for further capital injections from shareholders, like the Herz brothers — owners of coffee franchise Tchibo.  

Escada admitted defeat late on Tuesday and said it would file for insolvency this week. Is this the end of an era, the end of Germany’s sole glamorous answer to Armani, Chanel and Versace

Escada’s Pink party clearly made an impression. The broad staircases to the left and right of the museum’s entrance were draped with mannequins wearing outfits from all stages of the company’s 33-year history.

 

Brightly-coloured duvet jackets, diamond-studded jeans, fur coats, lavishly embroidered evening gowns and eighties-style leather jackets dazzled fashionistas and enraged anti-fur protestors outside the swanky soiree, which drew guest such as actress Diane Kruger, super model Nadja Auermann and designer Wolfgang Joop.

from Global News Journal:

Germany’s Finance Minister takes aim at the City

Has German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck finally said what many world leaders think but are afraid to say? That the British government won't sign up to meaningful reform of financial markets because it is too worried about what it would mean for the country’s most famous cash cow, the City of London.

 

The City, which accounts for around 35 percent of global foreign exchange turnover, has been a popular target for critics of capitalism for years. But it has rarely been singled out so bluntly as a problem by one of Britain’s close allies.

 

Even for a man not known for holding his tongue, Steinbrueck’s remark on Wednesday that Downing Street was impeding reform because it had “practically aligned” its interests with the City, was unusually undiplomatic. Just days before global leaders meet at a Group of Eight summit in Italy, Steinbrueck suggested the British government was plotting a “restoration” of the pre-crisis order to protect its own interests. The United States, by contrast, was now open to reform, he said.

from MacroScope:

Gold to go

Automatic teller machines (ATMs) -- 500 of them -- dispensing pieces of gold will be available around Germany, Switzerland and Austria by the end of this year.

That at least is the plan of German precious metals online trading company TG-Gold-Super-Markt.de. The ATMs, to be located at airports, railway stations and shopping malls, are intended to accustom ordinary people to the idea of investing in a physical asset such as gold, the thinking goes.
 
Thomas Geissler, the company's chief executive, said the gold ATMs might even improve relations between the sexes.
 
"I have yet to meet a woman who does not like a gift of gold. It's better than flowers. Flowers are more expensive. They wilt and you (as a man) don't get as many points at home as if you bring gold," he said.
 
A prototype ATM on display for a one-day marketing test at the main railway station in Frankfurt, Germany's financial capital, did indeed reward your correspondent with a 1-gramme (0.0353 ounce) piece of gold.
 
It cost the equivalent of $42.25 -- a 30 percent premium over the spot market price.

from MacroScope:

Springing back to life

The steady stream of less-bad-than-expected economic data has evidently been working as a builder of optimism. Confidence in improved economies and financlal market conditions is growing.

One of the biggest surprises has been Germany's ZEW economic sentiment survey -- which polls analysts and economists in Europe's largest economy. Not only did the index jump this month, it entered positive territory for the first time since July 2007. That was before the credit crisis hit.

U.S. financial services firm State Street also reports that the mood among institutional investors in North America, Europe and Asia is at a nine month high. The main point about this survey is that it is extraplolated from the actual buying and selling patterns within $12 trillion that State Street holds for investors as a custodian.