France might not even notice if the Eurozone fell apart—that’s how tangled up it is in the Jérôme Cahuzac fiasco that blew up with phenomenal effect. Former Presidents Chirac and Sarkozy were dogged by investigations and trials that laid bare misdeeds they personally had been involved in. By contrast, the Cahuzac fiasco doesn’t implicate President François Hollande. Not yet. But it’s tearing up his government.
Everyone learned a lesson from the “bail-in” of Cypriot banks: Russians who’d laundered their money there; bondholders who’d thought they’d always get bailed out; Cypriot politicians whose names showed up on lists of loans that had been forgiven; even Finance Minister Sarris. His lesson: when a cesspool of corruption blows up, no one is safe. And German politicians learned a lesson too: that it worked!
I’ve been a fan of David Stockman ever since he got in trouble for speaking the truth as Budget Director under President Reagan. But his new book, The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America—what an awesome romp through the economic, financial, and monetary shenanigans of our times!
Amidst the things in the US economy that aren’t going in the right direction, the debacles, fiascos, and nightmares, is an industry of scrappy upstarts, tiny operations, and larger companies that use American ingenuity, marketing, and the right amount of hops to stand up to Wall-Street-engineered giants—and they’re winning the amazing American beer war.
The craziness on Wall Street, the reckless for-the-moment-only behavior that led to the Financial Crisis, is back. This time it’s Citigroup that is once again concocting “synthetic” securities, like those that had wreaked havoc five years ago. And once again, it’s using them to shuffle off risks through the filters of Wall Street to people who might never know.
The ominous term “competiveness” is bandied about as the real issue, the one causing Eurozone countries to sink deeper into their fiasco. To address it, “structural reforms,” or austerity, have been invoked regardless of how much blood might stain the streets. And a core element of these structural reforms is bringing down the cost of labor.
“The government imposed the income tax burden in the first place,” said former California Republican legislator Tom Campbell about the process of filing tax returns. “So if it wants to make it easier, for heaven’s sake, why not?” But two companies that sell tax preparation software and services have been lobbying tooth and nail against making it easier—and won.
Cyprus didn’t prick the Eurozone bailout bubble, the notion that bank investors who took enormous risks to gain financial rewards would always be made whole by taxpayers. That bubble had already been pricked in February. But it was the first time that the international bailout cabal, the Troika, stuck its needle into it—while Germany quietly bailed out all investors in one of its own rotten banks.
Internet companies know practically everything about their users. And servers never forget. Advertisers, ID thieves, insurance companies, and others are trying to get this data. But “law enforcement” around the world can simply bully its way to it. Now Microsoft confessed: even your data and conversations on its encrypted services that you thought were secure aren’t because, upon request, it gives the crypto keys to governments around the world.
Putzmeister was a paragon of the German Mittelstand—family-owned firms with innovative technologies and high-quality manufacturing that dominate their niches worldwide. But in 2012, it was acquired by a Chinese giant. Now its German CEO reveals just how impossible integration is and how dire not only Europe but the world look to him, particularly China.