The offices of six companies, including BMW, Daimler and VW, were raided yesterday by 50 officials of Germany’s cartel office, which is investigating whether the auto industry has illegally colluded to manipulate steel prices. Board members reacted with the usual shock. They can claim ignorance, but executives are responsible for everything they do – and do not – know.
But targeting the corporate brass is nothing new in Germany. In an interview with Handelsblatt, one of the country’s top defense lawyers accuses state prosecutors of overzealously pursuing businessmen. Looking back on his career, Hanns W. Feigen says, “It wasn’t a daily occurrence to raid the executive floor.” Feigen also finds it problematic that the state legally rewards criminal acts by purchasing stolen financial data. A must-read for any high profile executives out there in hot water.
Today the government will present its budget for 2017. Missing from the calculation will be new debt, which has not happened for 45 years. But parliamentarian Jens Spahn, a member of the ruling Christian Democrats, spills some water into the wine, noting the strong economy and the zero interest rate policy have helped perform a miracle. If he wants to be fair, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble should light a candle today for ECB President Mario Draghi.
Nuclear power may already be consigned to German history, but the headache of storing it safely will last generations. A special commission charged with ascertaining a final resting place for atomic garbage released a report yesterday outlining the requirements for finding a permanent disposal site. What do the 700 pages conclude after the 2-year investigation?
It’s time for Jean-Claude Juncker to read between the lines. In a rebuff to the commission president, Brussels has decided to hold a vote to ratify the proposed free trade agreement with Canada. Juncker had tried to shirk the democratic process by having it ratified without a popular vote, but E.U. national governments had their say. Sometimes you get the feeling Juncker is only there because people were too busy to show him the door.
Europe’s largest economy is run by a woman, so is the IMF, and the U.S. and U.K. look poised to welcome female bosses within the year. Hillary Clinton is ahead in the polls, and yesterday, Theresa May, Britain’s home secretary, won the first round of voting for leadership of the Conservative Party, making her the favorite to become prime minister in September. Looks like a new dawn for the power woman.
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