Alongside China and Japan, Germany has posted the world's largest current account surplusses for most of this decade. But what has this accumulated "net asset" position with regards to the rest of the world been used for? While I can't offer any comprehensive statistics, my guess is that much of it has been frittered away in overpriced cross-border M&A, non-profitable international business expansion, and of course misguided bets made by various banks.
Care for some selected examples?
- Daimler's amazing success story with Chrysler
- BMW's UK adventure (Rover)
- Deutsche Post's American debacle (DHL)
- Various acquisitions made by Deutsche Telekom (e.g. Voicestream)
- The billions invested by Infineon and Qimonda in building up their Asian factories (not that their German ones are doing any better, but we are talking about transfers abroad here)
- German funny money channelled into making second-rate Hollywood movies (lavishly supported by the German taxpayer to make it worthwhile)
- And last but of course far from least, US-related suprime losses incurred by the various Landesbanken, HRE, and a few others
Just picking some high-profile example. There are many more with less visibility...