Monday, August 24, 2009

Donaudampfschiffahrtsgesellschaftskapitän preparing for River Styx

(The ferryman Charon is in modern times commonly believed to have transported the souls of the newly dead across this river into the underworld, where will Merkel transport the souls of the newly unemployed after the lipstick is rubbed off? -AM)

Financial Times
By Daniel Schäfer in Frankfurt and Richard Milne in,London
Published: August 24 2009 03:00

Germany faces a potential wave of corporate restructurings, some of its top managers say, because companies have deferred job cuts to help ensure the re-election of a business-friendly government at next month's federal elections.

Senior managers and institutional investors say there has been an implicit "pact" not to announce big job cuts ahead of the September 27 ballot.

"Germany is currently protected from change. But after the elections it's normal that the messages will change," Hakan Samuelsson, chief executive of Man, the German truck and engineering group, told the Financial Times.

Business fears that a left-leaning government would increase the burden on companies.

Henning Gebhardt, head of equities at DWS, the German institutional investor, said: "There has been a tacit agreement not to slash jobs, which will be dissolved after the elections."

(A German trading partner recently told me that he has noticed several changes lately : 1) Not as many big cars on highways most new purchases seem to be for smaller and cheaper vehicles ; 2) Almost obsessive focus on economy and finance ... dominates small talk; 3) A general malaise on the big picture but satisfaction on ones' current situation with more focus on simple pleasures ... summarized by a 'could be worse' attitude... is that todays' optimism?

Appears to me that soon it will be worse. -AM

Financial Times
By James Wilson in Frankfurt
Published: August 24 2009 03:00

Several of Germany's biggest public sector banks are likely to reveal steep rises in loan loss provisions this week even as optimism grows that the country is pulling out of its economic crisis.

Rising provisions for bad loans are likely to depress the profits ... for the second quarter and put in doubt the speed of recovery in the Landesbank sector, which analysts highlight as the most troubled part of Germany's banking system.

Many analysts have warned that the worst could be yet to come for the country's corporate and banking sectors, as companies' working capital becomes scarce and corporate downgrades mean banks have to set aside more capital to cover losses.

"These potentially high loan losses mainly reflect the speed and depth of Germany's worst [post-second world war] recession," S&P said. "We consider there to be a high risk that domestic corporate and private insolvencies will rise to new post-unification highs, potentially in 2010."

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