Germany

The Leveraged Buyout of the GDR

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Until the European Central Bank purchased a call option on the future assets of the Greek government (which remains out-of-the-money), the largest leveraged buyout of a sovereign state had taken place in 1990, when the West German government acquired the German Democratic Republic (GDR), thought at the time to consist largely of liabilities. By most accounts the Bonn government paid over the odds for East Germany, estimated to have cost the West more than $1 trillion.  read more »

Who’s Racist Now? Europe’s Increasing Intolerance

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With the rising tide of terrorist threats across Europe, one can somewhat understandably expect a   surge in Islamophobia across the West. Yet in a contest to see which can be more racist, one would be safer to bet on Europe than on the traditional bogeyman, the United States.

One clear indicator of how flummoxed Europeans have become about diversity were the remarks last week by German Chancellor Angela Merkel saying that multi-culturalism has “totally failed” in her country, the richest and theoretically  most capable of absorbing immigrants. “We feel tied to Christian values,” the Chancellor said. “Those who don’t accept them don’t have a place here.”  read more »

The New World Order

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Tribal ties—race, ethnicity, and religion—are becoming more important than borders.

For centuries we have used maps to delineate borders that have been defined by politics. But it may be time to chuck many of our notions about how humanity organizes itself. Across the world a resurgence of tribal ties is creating more complex global alliances. Where once diplomacy defined borders, now history, race, ethnicity, religion, and culture are dividing humanity into dynamic new groupings.  read more »

G-20 Summit: There is No One Size Fits All

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There is one thing you need to remember as you listen to the debate about economic and fiscal policy at the G-20 Summit this weekend in Toronto: There is No One-Size-Fits All. There is not even a “One-Size-Fits Twenty.”

Back in 2001, I summarized the few things about finance and economics that most scholars agree will support a growing economy and healthy capital markets:  read more »

The Downside of Brit-Bashing

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Obama may be spanking BP’s brass today. But the other crisis—Europe’s economic mess—reminds us why it’s important that the U.S. and U.K. stick together.

The controversy over the BP spill threatens to drive US-UK relations to a historic low point. When recently in London, several people worried that the President may be engaging in “Brit-bashing” at the expense of our historically close ties. This theme has been widely picked up in the UK press.  read more »

Contemporary China's Mirror Image: Imperial Germany

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China has emerged as the bad boy on the global scene, pushing around executives at Rio Tinto, attacking Google, and humiliating Barack Obama at the Copenhagen Climate Talks. Speculation is growing about China’s rising power and the country’s leaders are displaying a discouraging sense of hubris. There is growing fear that the autocratic Middle Kingdom will soon dominate the world.

These fears have parallels with another rising power of a century ago: Imperial Germany. Both emerged quickly on the global scene and did so with an enormous chip on their shoulders. Like China today, Germany was a little late coming to the industrial revolution, though its cultural contribution to European civilization and in turn to American civilization was enormous  read more »

America's European Dream

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The evolving Greek fiscal tragedy represents more than an isolated case of a particularly poorly run government. It reflects a deeper and potentially irreversible malaise that threatens the entire European continent.

The issues at the heart of the Greek crisis – huge public debt, slow population growth, expansive welfare system and weakening economic fundamentals – extend to a wider range of European countries, most notably in weaker fringe nations like Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain (the so-called PIIGS). These problems also pervade many E.U. countries still outside the Eurozone in both the Baltic and the Balkans.  read more »

Let Freedom Ring: Democracy and Prosperity are Inextricably Linked

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With autocratic states like China and Russia looking poised for economic recovery, it's often hard to make the case for ideals such as democracy and rule of law. To some, like Martin Jacques, author of When China Rules, autocrats seem destined to rule the world economy.  read more »

Our Euro President

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Barack Obama's seemingly inexplicable winning of the Nobel Peace Prize says less about him than about the current mentality of Europe's leadership class. Lacking any strong, compelling voices of their own, the Europeans are now trying to hijack our president as their spokesman.

There's a catch, of course. In their mind, Obama deserves the award because he seems to think, and sound, like a European. In everything from global warming to anti-suburbanism to pacifism, Obama reflects the basic agenda of the continent's leading citizens--in sharp contrast to former President George W. Bush.  read more »

Germany's Role in the Green Energy Economy

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Germany likes to brag about its green credentials. It is a source of pride and it is justified to a certain extent. The country, which is located on the same latitude as Canada, had the largest number of installed solar panels as of 2007.  read more »