Wolf Richter

French CEO About Ratings Agencies: ‘We Have To Shoot All These Guys’

“We’re experiencing the beginning of the repercussions of the financial crisis,” said Michel-Edouard Leclerc, CEO of the second largest retailer in France. He has never seen so much “rational behavior among consumers” and so much “fear of getting screwed.” Until now, the crisis has touched mostly the financial world, but in 2012, it will hit the real economy. “It’s always the people who end up paying,” he said.

The US Auto Industry Drifts Off To China

Practically every car or truck sold in the US today contains Chinese-made components, though Chinese-designed vehicles haven’t made it yet. Chinese automakers scramble to move from nice-looking but shoddy copy-and-paste models to reliable products that would be competitive in the US. It’s a government priority. And they’re getting there through the back door.

The Endgame: Japan Makes Another Move

The cabinet approved a doozie of a budget with a horrid deficit. Yet it relies on accounting shenanigans. In reality, the government will borrow a disastrous 56.2% of every yen it spends. The vaunted trade surplus has become a trade deficit, the working population is declining, the savings rate plummets…. But the government has a solution: a miracle.

Culture Shock

Bali, 1996: The taxi driver honks his way from the airport through Denpasar’s polluted, dusty chaos and drops me off at a walled compound in Kuta by the beach. From the gate, I see a tropical garden, a pavilion with a pointy ceramic-tile roof, a swimming pool, and two-story guest buildings. A girl in red flowery sarong and sheer blouse….

CEO of Dexia: ‘Not A Bank But A Hedge Fund’

Dexia, the Franco-Belgian mega-bank that was bailed out in 2008 and re-collapsed in October, dwarfs Belgium’s economy. To keep it afloat, Belgium spent and guaranteed phenomenal amounts at a huge risk to the country. Yet there have been no legal consequences for those responsible. Until now….

The Most Disparaged Profession

Congress is the ideal American institution: it spends far more than it takes in and borrows the difference. We love that. To heck with the future. It means free money, services, wars, and other goodies. At least some of us get to profit from it. And then we blow it or invest it, and we lose it or make money on it. It all adds up to that glorious GDP. It’s the American dream. And yet….

The Previously Unthinkable Becomes A Planned Event

Governments and companies around the world have been preparing for a collapse of the Eurozone—simple prudence requires them to do that. Theoretical exercises for a hypothetical scenario, they call it. But recently, these theoretical exercises have taken on practical overtones. And even the public is now encouraged to prepare for the demise of the euro.

Mainstream Media Discover Ron Paul

The Wall Street Journal, NPR, The New York Times, and other mainstream media have engaged in an obvious and silly boycott of presidential candidate Ron Paul. Report after report about the Republican primary excluded him, though occasionally they’d mention his name—to be fair and balanced. But if you haven’t read The New York Times recently, you missed something BIG.

Practically Naked

Australia: A tall chick in a bikini walks along the beach, face shaded by a floppy hat. She carries a bag in one hand, sandals in the other. Her boobs sway and her hips swing and her inner thighs rub together as she puts foot before foot in the loose sand.
      “Look at that babe,” he says.
      “Holy moly,” I observe in my perspicacious manner.

Political Realities Threaten To Split The Eurozone

Sarkozy will be the only French president since World War II with two recessions under his belt, if current forecasts are correct. Recessions are rare in France: between the war and the financial crisis, there were two. Against this backdrop, Sarkozy faces a tough reelection campaign. And front runner François Hollande has vowed to oppose the German dictate on how to save the Eurozone. So it might all unravel.