(March 2012) German GDP (gross domestic product) fell 0.2% in the fourth quarter of 2011 but a dip in the first quarter of this year is not expected, avoiding a technical recession. However, growth will remain subdued and one forecast expects growth in the general election year of 2013 to be as low as 1%. Timo Klein, senior German economist at IHS Global Insight, was more optimistic in a note Monday. The firm forecasts the annual average economic growth to slow to 0.7% this year from 3.1% last year, and then to accelerate to 1.6% in 2013.
(March 2012) Daily News Digest - - Wed, Mar 28, 2012: Key Irish business and international news at a glance; European leaders signaled rising confidence that their region’s crisis is near an end, while Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke warned that a US recovery isn’t assured...The expansion of the euro bailout mechanism is a further step towards mutualising the debt of the Eurozone countries, the conservative German daily, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung says...Even if the euro countries expand the euro financial firewall the debtor states must still get their budgets under control.
(March 2012) Daily News Digest -- Thurs Mar 22, 2012: Key Irish and international business news at a glance; Japan reported an unexpected trade surplus for February and higher-than-forecast exports, adding to evidence of a rebound in the world’s third-biggest economy...The clearly xenophobic undertone of the French election campaign may have freed the Toulouse killer of his inhibitions, the liberal French weekly Le Nouvel Observateur writes...Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet on Wednesday approved the central pillars of the 2013 federal budget as proposed by Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble.
Germany improves incentives for innovative startups; Effective stock markets/ venture capital also needed
(March 2012) The German federal government announced last month that it will improve the financing of young innovative companies in Germany. "We want to mobilize venture capital for German companies to strengthen our position in the international innovation competition," said the chancellor. In October 2011, the government had introduced the 'High-Tech Startup Fund II' and now plans to mobilize more investment capital by introducing new incentives for so-called angel investors. In addition, the government has promised to introduce legislation to improve the tax environment for venture capital. However, an economist argues that highly developed stock markets where innovative companies achieve high prices are also essential for the sector. Meanwhile, the typical size of venture capital investments is low compared with the US.
(March 2012) Daily News Digest -- Fri Mar 16, 2012: Key Irish and international business stories at a glance; Bloomberg says that when Morgan Stanley (MS) said in January it had cut its “net exposure” to Italy by $3.4bn, it didn’t tell investors that the nation paid that entire amount to the bank to exit a bet on interest rates...A Bulgarian delegation of seven ministers and almost one hundred entrepreneurs travelled on Wednesday to a Bulgarian-Qatari economic forum in Doha. But not one of the 500 Qatari business guests showed up for the event...Energy-saving light bulb ends up as hazardous waste, too much insulation promotes mold and household drains are emitting a putrid odour because everyone is saving water. Many of Germany's efforts to protect the environment are a chronic failure, but that's unlikely to change.
(March 2012) Norway has the highest level of women boardroom membership at close to 40% because of a mandatory quota that was introduced in 2006. In Germany and Japan the percentage is less than 5%. To identify appropriate measures for addressing the persistent lack of gender diversity in boardrooms of listed companies in Europe, the European Commission launched a public consultation on Monday. The Commission is seeking views on possible action at EU level, including legislative measures, to redress the gender imbalance on company boards. The public consultation will run until 28 May 2012. Following this input, the Commission will take a decision on further action later this year.
(March 2012) In a free enterprise system, there isn't much that is free about the dysfunctional US healthcare system where rent-seeking through price gouging and monopolistic practices, command over 17% of American gross domestic product (GDP). An international survey shows that for example the average cost of a hospital stay is $1,825 in Spain, $5,004 in Germany and $15,734 in the US. The commonly prescribed AstraZenica drug Nexium, which is used for stomach disorders, ranges in price from $69 in Switzerland to $193, the average cost in the US.
(February 2012) German house prices have risen to 1999 nominal levels after price rises in 2010 and 2011. Meanwhile Irish house prices are back to year 2000 levels, according to Dermot O'Leary, chief economist at Goodbody Stockbrokers, with the decline accelerating in 2011. Irish prices fell 17% in 2011 and Spanish prices dipped 10%, compared with 2010. Austria, France, Switzerland and Norway all saw prices rise by 5% or more.
(February 2012) As permanent public sector workers retain their nineteenth century era state guarantee of employment in many countries, the number of temporary workers or 'temps' as they are often called has been rising in several countries over the past decade. The resultant dual workforce in Spain for example, has seen tens of thousands of temps, usually young, lose their jobs while older members of trade unions in permanent positions have been protected by very high severance pay and a long appeal process. The rise of the temp has been particularly evident in Japan where they have few rights and high-profile companies such as Toyota, pay them less than the Irish minimum wage of €8.65 ($11.60) in a high cost economy. In April 2011, a month after the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan with the resultant nuclear fallout at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, The New York Times reported that of roughly 83,000 workers at Japan’s 18 commercial nuclear power plants, 88% were contract workers in the year that ended in March 2010, the nuclear agency said. At the Fukushima Daiichi plant 89% of the 10,303 workers during that period were contractors. In the year before the nuclear disaster, the contractors were exposed to levels of radiation about 16 times as high as the levels faced by direct employees of Tokyo Electric, according to Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.
(February 2012) Daily News Digest -- Tues Feb 28, 2012: Key Irish and international news at a glance; Is the UK economy finally looking up? In recent weeks there has been a run of better than expected data - - from export levels to the monthly tax take and high street spending...A Thai man who helped lead anti- government protests was sentenced to seven and half years in jail for insulting the royal family...160 people have already volunteered to form part of the special task force that will be parachuted into Athens to teach the Greeks how to pay their taxes.