Europe

China Puts The Screws To BMW

And BMW blinks. With sales of new vehicles approaching 18 million units in 2011, China is the largest car market in the world, far ahead of the US. No major car maker would want to miss out on the opportunities in China. Yet, there is a problem: Pressure by the Chinese Government to transfer the newest technologies.

Germany Special: Divorce, Remarry, Get Fired

The right of German religious organizations to terminate an employee for violating their moral codex, even in deeply private situations, has been affirmed by the Federal Labor Court. And they’re among the top employers in Germany! If you’re a divorcee and work for a Catholic hospital, you may get fired if you remarry. Heck, you may get fired for getting divorced.

Bailout Rebellion In Germany

“We’re on the way to a worldwide financial dictatorship governed by bankers,” said Peter Gauweiler, German Member of Parliament. “We don’t support Greece. We support 25 or 30 worldwide investment banks and their insane activities.”

Knife Drawn, the Bundesbank Attacks the ECB, and German Industrialists Tremble

The Bundesbank lashes out at the ECB for its decision to print money and buy crappy bonds of eurozone countries that lived high on the hog for years but are crumbling under a pile of debt. This puts it on collision course with the German industrialists that got rich off those countries. Angela Merkel is caught in between.

Swiss Franc Wreaks Havoc In Switzerland

The run-up of the Swiss franc entailed a stock-market crash, gigantic hits to wealth invested overseas, and big losses in Swiss pension funds. Companies are reeling. Layoffs and a recession are next. The Swiss National Bank (SNB) flooded the market with francs, intervened in the currency markets, and forced real interest rates into negative territory. Without much success.

Chain Restaurants Are Conquering France

And so is obesity. Good food and leisurely meals bien arrosé are considered the glue that keeps families, and French society, together. And yet, chain restaurants have elbowed their way in and now control 20% of the total restaurant market.

Germany, Model Economy Du Jour

All Tax And No Play. But they still can’t balance their budget or bail out Italy.
While we’re having all the fun.

Downgrades Don’t Matter

… if you can print money and are in control of the credit markets. Look at Japan. That doesn’t mean the underlying problems don’t matter.

Hatchet Jobs

The litany of layoffs among the largest banks continues. And it’s ugly. After announcements and rumors from Wall Street, the first European banks have come out to air their dirty laundry. And now, per the Financial Times, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is adding 2,000 layoffs to the list. 63,000 by eight European banks so far. Something big is afoot.