Germany's economic output contracted in the second quarter and most indications point to a worsening in the third quarter, which is just halfway through. The culprit is only superficially Donald Trump with his trade wars. The German economy has been on an unsustainable path in several respects. Now the government is called upon to act courageously and intelligently to ensure that a deep restructuring crisis is avoided.
On 27 March, the highest administrative court in Germany, the Bundesverwaltungsgericht, has referred my case to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg. I have insisted to pay my legally required contributions to public radio and TV with the legal tender, euro cash. This is not possible according to their regulations. The Bundesverwaltungsgericht has ruled that there is indeed a requirement for all public institutions to accept cash based on §14 of the Bundesbank Act, which makes euro-banknotes legal tender. However, they will ask the ECJ to clarify, if this law is in agreement with higher ranking European law.
My book "Schönes neues Geld" (Brave new Money: PayPal, WeChat, Amazon Go - A Totalitarian World Currency in the Making) has found a Vietnamese publisher. Korean and Chinese versions are scheduled to be published this year. An English language summary of the book is here.
European Economic & Monetary Union (EMU) is in permanent crisis. The economic strengths of the participating nations are drifting apart instead of converging. This creates great frustration among the governments of countries being left behind and fierce disputes between them and Brussels and governments of core countries.
A leading economist who took Uber’s money and delivered favorable results sees his reputation tarnished
A year ago, I described how the controversial and well-financed ride-hauling platform Uber pays economists with data and money to do Uber-related research. This research invariably leads to favourable results, which can be used to fend off criticism and regulation. One such study has now been ripped apart in the Industrial & Labor Relations Review (ILR), a top journal in labor-economics.
The German publisher of "Schönes neues Geld" (Brave New Money), Campus, has sold foreign rights to publishers in South Korea and in China. I am glad that the information on the global campaign to ablish cash and civic rights is spreading.
The trend toward a digital world currency: The winner takes all is a basic rule of the digital economy. Whoever is ahead has a large advantage, just from being ahead, and has a good chance to end up as a quasi-monopolist. This has two main reasons, called network effects and economies of scale. Network effects make digital services more attractive, if more people use them. This is true for social media or trading platforms as well as for computer programs like Word or Windows. Economies of scale arise, because once a digital service or a programme has been developed, it often costs next to nothing to provide it to more customers. Thus, the leader, who has the most customers, can offer the most attractive digital services at the lowest cost. This is the reason why Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook have risen to the top of the league of the most valuable American companies within only a few years. Together with their Chinese look-alikes Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent hold the global top-spots. They all have a near-monopoly in their industry and can command very high profit margins.
The Group of Thirty, a mixed group of international commercial bankers and central bankers, has just released a report on central banking. The report is again presented as if it was representing the opinion of the group as a whole, including Mario Draghi. This proves that the new guidelines for communication of the members of the Executive Board of the ECB are nothing but window dressing.
On 11 February Greek finance minister Varoufakis outlined his request for help and the concessions his government was willing to make in front of the Eurogroup. According to reports it was mainly his German counterpart Schäuble who blocked any agreement on this basis until the Eurogroup finally agreed on a statement on 20 February. It is instructive to compare the wording and content of this agreement with what Varoufakis had offered and asked for (in German here with links to original documents) nine days earlier.
On 16 February talks in the Eurogroup failed after Greece rejected a draft statement and received an ultimatum to ask for an extension of the current program before 20 February. Greece sent the letter and the Eurogroup reassembled on 20 February, agreeing on a Statement on Greece. It is very instructive to see what changed between the rejected statement and the one finally agreed. (What Schäuble gained by holding out after 11 February is examined in a companion piece.)