Another Marx criticises capitalism

December 24, 2007

Archbishop Marx gestures during a visit to the cathedral of Munich-Freising, 6 Dec 2007His name is Marx, he’s an outspoken German and he criticises capitalism. But he’s not who you might think he is. Reinhard Marx wants German companies to stop giving their top managers hefty salaries and focus on more than profit margins. So far, comparisons with Karl Marx stand up. But then there’s his job. Reinhard Marx has just been named as the new Roman Catholic archbishop of Munich.

The Bavarian capital is Pope Benedict’s old diocese, one that usually earns its archbishop a cardinal’s hat after a few years in office, so Marx is clearly an up-and-coming figure in German Catholicism.

“It is ridiculous that when businesses publish bad figures or sack staff or miss their profit targets a manager can still be given a golden parachute,” Marx, currently the bishop of Trier, says in a German radio interview. Trier is Karl Marx’s birthplace but the two men are not related.

Marx, a strong defender of Catholic social teaching and head of the German Bishops’ Conference “Justitia et Pax” committee on social issues, reckons that businesses should also think about rewarding managers who are loyal and aim to protect jobs.

Pursuing profits is not always good business practice, he says: “When maximizing profits is the central goal for directors, meaning making 15, 20, 30, 40 percent returns, then it’s a risky path.”

A debate over corporate pay has been bubbling in Germany over the past few weeks, characterised by front page pictures of the beaming chief executive of Porsche, who reports say earned 60 million euros ($88 million) this year heading the sports car firm.

Even Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for businesses to be more open about publishing what top executives earn.

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