TheBigPond - spotlight on what South African business and business people have been up to in Europe. Edited by South African journalist Christo Volschenk from Stuttgart, Germany. Note: This blog has migrated to a new home at
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Need an experienced web-editor, copywriter, or corporate newsletter writer? Christo Volschenk worked as a financial journalist in South Africa for 16 years, before moving to Germany in 2002. Go to his website ( for more on him, his rates and his skills.


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I'm a South African living in Germany. That explains why I write (mainly) about Germany and South Africa. I came to Germany in 2001 and have visited South Africa regularly (at least twice a year) since then.

I worked for 25 years before I came here. A bit of this, a bit of that. But mainly as a financial journalist (for 18 years).

Between 2001 and 2004 I ''worked'' as a husband and a father. (Tough job when you've never seen the inside of a kitchen before!) I used the time to think. Mostly about what I REALLY want to do when I get out of the kitchen.

And I came up with this profound (for me) thought: I've been many ''things'' in my working career (sales rep, legal assistant, marketing man, advertising executive, journalist, manager). But throughout I've always been one thing: an observer.

More specifically: I observe people through a special lense, namely as economic beings. We all are economic beings. Even the man who lies in hospital paralised from his neck down. (He's a consumer. Of products and services.)

But, it get's a bit more involved: I observe not in a ''snap-shot way'', but in a ''trend-way''. I always see things as part of a trend, not simply for what it is now....

Why? To second-guess what it'll be like for these economic beings in future....6 months from now, 1 year from now, 5 years from now.

Example: In Germany Saturdays are for shopping. Everyone goes downtown and buys. When I came here in 2001 everyone carried lots of brown bags. I mean lots. I was amazed at the spending power of the average German.

In 2002 the bags dwindled. In 2003 I saw still fewer bags.

By 2004 I rarely saw a bag. Now (early in 2005) most people go downtown on a Saturday morning for a cup of coffee and to socialise. Not to buy.

So? Well, since I came here I've always been able to second-guess correctly the level and trend of consumer confidence before the official index number was published every month simply by observing the brown bags on a Saturday morning.

While my wife thought I was looking at the beautiful young women, I was seeing economic beings at work.

Consumer confidence is vital for consumption and consumption (by individuals) is vital for a growing economy (with all that this brings, not least new jobs...)

And all of this can be second-guessed by simply looking at the brown bags and not the legs of the carrier. (And they call economics the dismal science?)

So, at heart I'm a social observer. When I worked as a journalist observing was my job. Since I've been here it's been my hobby.

Then blogs came around and now I can share my hobby with the world.

I'll focus on trends in the economies and communities of Germany and South Africa. The topics will be varied...very varied. From entitlement behaviour of Germans to ball-skills (or the lack thereof) of South African rugby players.

Sometimes the articles will be negative, sometimes positive. I'll fight the good fight, that is, never to be dominated by either negativism, or positivism. (Also for the sake of my credibility.)

And for the record: I'm a person with a ''basic positive disposition'', I enjoy living in Germany, but I'd rather live in South Africa and (very important) I'm glad there is a ''new South Africa''.

Alter: 66

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