Image of the week: Commissioned art
This graffiti, seen on security fence surrounding the construction site of the new headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt, does not seem entirely complimentary of the work of the financial system, and most of the fence art comprises criticism of monetary policy in spray-paint form.
But the ECB seems entirely relaxed about this crisis commentary, provided by the local street artists of Frankfurt. Indeed, the artists actually approach the bank when construction began and asked permission – the ECB agreed and even contributed around €10,000 in support to the project, titled Under Art Construction.
The ECB council, meanwhile, meets to discuss interest rates and other matters in its existing building next week. Photograph: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters
In Numbers: Material girl
Ranking awarded to Madonna in the new Forbes magazine list of the world’s top-earning celebrities.
The singer’s estimated earnings in the year to the end of June 2013, as sales of clothing and fragrance added to the gross from her MDNA tour.
The sum earned by the second-placed celebrity on the list, the film director Steven Spielberg, thanks to a back catalogue that keeps on giving.
The Lexicon: IoT
IoT is the abbreviation for the “internet of things”, a charmingly vague phrase that has been in circulation almost as long as the internet itself, but has just been added to Oxford Dictionaries Online. This dictionary includes words, senses and phrases whenever it gathers “enough independent evidence from a range of sources to be confident that they have widespread currency in English”.
Sadly, the internet of things – essentially wifi-connected fridges, kettles, wardrobes, whatever – does not yet have widespread currency in our homes, though this week chipmaker ARM Holdings bought Sensinode, a Finnish start-up that specialises in software for all manner of smart devices. The Twitter hashtag #IoT is your source for all “internet of things”-related news.
Getting to know: Luke Johnson
Buffets are red hot, according to serial entrepreneur Luke Johnson of venture capital group Risk Capital Partners. He’s just poured millions into a British all-you-can-eat restaurant chain called Red Hot World Buffet to add to his company’s more gentile holding in pastry-pushers Patisserie Valerie, among other eateries.
Johnson, the former chairman of Pizza Express, began his path to high-calorie entrepreneurial glory when he was an 18-year-old student at Oxford, where he and fellow student (and future business partner) Hugh Osmond interviewed Richard Branson for a student newspaper. Johnson found the meeting “inspirational”, he later said. “Here was a young millionaire who only seemed to get involved in really groovy businesses like nightclubs and rock’n’roll.”
Oh yes, Johnson has also just invested in a cruise booking website.
The list: Fast-growing spirit brands
Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard has been toasting the success of Jameson, with the whiskey brand increasing its volumes more than 10 per cent in the year to the end of June and growing by 16.6 per cent in value. But which other spirits brands are gaining momentum? In no particular order . . .
1 RumChata: This cream liqueur by Agave Loco Brands enjoyed a stunning 2012 in the US market and has continued to seduce customers in 2013.
2 New Amsterdam: It might seem like the last thing the world needs is another vodka brand, but the rise of this E&J Distillers suggests otherwise.
3 Pearl: This Canadian-produced vodka brand, owned by Luxco, has won growth from flavours such as pomegranate, “apple pie” and “wedding cake”.
4 Fireball: This Sazerac brand is a cinnamon-flavoured whiskey liqueur and it enjoyed a rocket-fuelled 2012.
5 Cîroc: A “super-premium” Diageo brand, targeted initially at the US market, is “the world’s most sophisticated vodka”, the company claims.