We’ve had an endless series of products whose ingredients have been cheapened in order to maintain the price. Consumers won’t be able to taste the difference, the theory goes. So, as the horse-meat lasagna scandal in Europe is spiraling beautifully out of control, we’re now getting hit where it hurts: Maker’s Mark is watering down its bourbon.
Prime Minister Ayrault himself presided over Monday’s meeting of the National Anti-Fraud Committee. “A first for a head of government,” he said at the press conference, to hammer home just how important this was. But he wasn’t worried about run-of-the-mill fraud that might fleece an old lady of her life savings. He was worried about people not paying their taxes. And he had a remedy.
“Former employees of the SEC routinely help corporations influence SEC rulemaking, counter the agency’s investigations, soften the blow of SEC enforcement actions, and win exemptions from federal law.” A damning report on how Wall Street insiders rotate in and out of the SEC—until Wall Street culture and personalities dominate the agency. Regulation and enforcement become a joke. A principle called, “Regulatory Capture.”
Friday evening when no one was supposed to pay attention, Google announced that Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt would sell 3.2 million of his shares in 2013, after having already sold 1.8 million in 2012—suddenly dumping 53% of his Google shares, though he’d sold practically nothing from 2008 through 2011. And Google’s reasons don’t make sense.
The preannouncement came Thursday evening: PSA Peugeot Citroën, France’s largest automaker, would have a write-down of €4.7 billion. On top of a hefty operating loss. It would be colossal. An all-time record. Rumors spread immediately that PSA would need a bailout. The second in four months.
Despite optimism-mongering in the media, in certain quarters of Washington, and elsewhere, we’ve had indication after indication in the economic data that American workers have not benefited from whatever lousy progress has been made in nudging up GDP. But now we know from the horse’s mouth: they’re mired in a tough new reality that is getting worse.
Tuesday morning, the 168 remaining employees of DMI in Vaux, a tiny town near Montluçon in the Department of Allier, smack-dab in the middle of France, rigged about ten gas cylinders throughout the factory they’d been occupying and threatened to blow it up—unless their demands were met. Another day in the decline of the private sector à la Française.
The drumbeat of layoffs and plant closures has been riling up desperate workers who have little hope of finding a job elsewhere, with unemployment at 10.5%. But now the Socialist government, worried about a “radicalization” of these angry workers, has instructed police intelligence services to keep an eye on them. Not exactly one of the campaign promises.
It should have been an exciting event for Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy: a tête-à-tête with German Chancellor Merkel. Afterwards, he’d stand next to her, illuminated by her glory. He’d brag about implementing structural reforms, cleaning up banks, and moving Spain forward. She’d endorse him with her benevolent smile. Instead, it was a slugfest about corruption.
By now we should have gotten used to the odor emanating from banks—bailouts, money laundering, Libor rate-rigging, the other misdeeds. But in Europe over the last few days, it was particularly dense. “In this uncertain world, I cannot exclude anything,” said Deutsche Bank co-CEO reassuringly.