Friday, May 9, 2008

Schadenfreude Watch: Financial News

In the early 1990s, I had the pleasure of working at a Whimpy fast food chain (named for the hamburger eating Popeye character)in Edinburgh, Scotland. Among the pleasures of this job were bright red overalls that were a cross between a uniform and a clown suit, and dealing with American customers.

Note that I am an American, born and bred in the Detriot area. But let's just say the ex-pat fast food context did not bring out our collective national best side. In my position on the front lines of the hospitality industry, I was tasked with explaining to my fellow Americans that ketchup packets, thrown liberally on McDonald's trays across the purple mountains magesties and frutied plains of the USA, cost 10p each in the UK.

This was invariably taken as a major affront, and elicited outraged shouting.

"What do you MEAN I have to pay for ketchup?? Do you want me to pay for the air too, or does that come free?"

Had I been a bit more confident in those days (the red overalls didn't help in that regard) I might have replied, "Sorry, Toto, you're not in Kansas any more." Presumably they left their native land with the hopes that things would be just a little different than home.

So you can see why some Europeans have come to believe that Americans have high expectations of what they can get with their all mighty dollars, and why seeing the U.S. economy in a recession as the Euro climbs might give them a little chuckle.

This is my long winded introduction to my latest Schadenfreude spotting from the Atlantic Review blog, reporting on a Financial Times article.

German Bundesbankers...are not concerned about any direct fallout from the US mortgage crisis, writes Ralph Atkins in the Financial Times.

The article's headline is "Schadenfreude stirs in resilient Germany," And why not? They invented it. But, the blog notes, Atkins only claims once that "across Germany, a sense of schadenfreude has even started to emerge."

I guess the writer of the headline felt more Schadenfreude than the author of the article itself.