Olaf's Feed
Jun 11, 2013
via Breakingviews

German court pragmatism tested by ECB bond buying

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By Olaf Storbeck

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The German constitutional court’s hearing on the European Central Bank’s bond-buying programme will be another opportunity to show how fragile the basic agreement at the heart of the monetary union really is. The judges in Karlsruhe are being asked to say whether Berlin is at risk of agreeing to an ECB policy that violates the conditions they had previously set on the monetary union. Should they make the programme known as outright monetary transactions (OMT) verboten, the euro crisis might be reignited. That looks unlikely, although a negative verdict cannot be ruled out.

Jun 6, 2013

Breakingviews-SAP fixes e-commerce weakness at hubristic price

(Adds Context News) (The author is a Reuters Breakingviews
columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.)

By Olaf Storbeck

LONDON, June 6 (Reuters Breakingviews) – If you can’t make
it, buy it. Europe’s largest software maker SAP (SAPG.DE: Quote, Profile, Research) has
been following this principle with the vigour of a late convert.
The German company ditched its longstanding penchant for organic
growth only a few years ago. Since then, it has been buying,
spending about $9 billion on acquisitions, about 10 percent of
its current market capitalisation, in the last 18 months.

Jun 5, 2013
via Breakingviews

Investment freeze darkens German economic prowess

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By Olaf Storbeck

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Germany passes for Europe’s economic strongman. It may in fact be weaker than it looks. For years, the low level of corporate capital expenditure has undermined the country’s industrial future. While real GDP is already 1.3 percent above the pre-crisis peak of early 2008, real equipment investment is 16.5 percent below what it was then. Moreover, it has been falling for six quarters in a row.

Jun 3, 2013
via Breakingviews

Agnellis brace for Fiat-Chrysler merger endgame

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By Olaf Storbeck

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Industrial groups go through a time of strength, a time of privilege and a time of vanity, the late Italian entrepreneur and Fiat Chairman Giovanni Agnelli once remarked. “For me the first is the only one that counts”, he added. His grandson John Elkann, the chairman and chief executive of Exor, the Agnelli family’s investment group through which it controls Fiat, seems to concur.

May 24, 2013
via Breakingviews

Soccer success mirrors Germany’s secret strengths

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By Olaf Storbeck

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

In 2000, Germany was the sick man of Europe. Not only was the economy stumbling, but the national football team was knocked out of the European Championship without winning a single game. That failure was reflected in UEFA’s Champions League, a grouping of leading European sides. From 2002 to 2009, no German club made it past the quarter-finals.

May 7, 2013
via Breakingviews

Lufthansa governance farce marks new low point

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By Olaf Storbeck

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Europe’s largest airline in the last 24 hours has gone through a series of self-inflicted turbulences that raise doubts about the quality of its governance. On Monday morning, the nominated new chairman of Lufthansa, a former chief executive of the company, unexpectedly announced that he would not be available for the task. One day ahead of the annual shareholder meeting, Wolfgang Mayrhuber, 66, seemed to cave in to pressure from international investors unhappy with his candidacy. Then, a few hours later, he changed his mind once again, and decided to run after all.

May 7, 2013

Breakingviews: Lufthansa governance farce marks new low point

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions
expressed are his own.)

By Olaf Storbeck

LONDON, May 7 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Europe’s largest
airline in the last 24 hours has gone through a series of
self-inflicted turbulences that raise doubts about the quality
of its governance. On Monday morning, the nominated new chairman
of Lufthansa (LHAG.DE: Quote, Profile, Research), a former chief executive of the company,
unexpectedly announced that he would not be available for the
task. One day ahead of the annual shareholder meeting, Wolfgang
Mayrhuber, 66, seemed to cave in to pressure from international
investors unhappy with his candidacy. Then, a few hours later,
he changed his mind once again, and decided to run after all.

Mar 14, 2013
via Breakingviews

VW’s mega-profit hides risky governance weak spot

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By Olaf Storbeck

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Volkswagen is defying gravity. Even though the European car market has been in terrible shape for two years, VW’s 25.5 billion euros of 2012 pre-tax profit was the highest ever for a listed German company. While half of that profit was a one-off, thanks to a revaluation of financial derivatives related to the Porsche takeover, the actual business is performing nicely. Operating profit increased by 2.1 percent to 11.5 billion euros. But the industrial strength comes with a serious weakness – in corporate governance.

Feb 22, 2013
via Breakingviews

Review: How economics became the hijacked science

By Olaf Storbeck

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

There’s no lack of books on the shortcomings of mainstream economics. “Economists and the Powerful”, by Norbert Haering, a German financial journalist, and Niall Douglas, an Irish IT consultant, stands out from the crowd.

Feb 8, 2013
via Breakingviews

Peugeot’s writedown shocker isn’t end of trouble

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By Olaf Storbeck

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

In a French corporate version of glasnost, PSA Peugeot Citroën is cleaning up its balance sheet and will write off assets to the tune of 4 billion euros – 28 percent of its current asset base, an amount equivalent to twice its current market capitalisation. Now it can focus on the future: it’s bleak.