Posts Tagged ‘Germany’


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corporate religion

150727_600 Steve Bell cartoon 9/7/14



Labor union Verdi has called on workers at German warehouses of online retailer to extend their strikes over pay and working conditions on Thursday and Friday of this week.


The economists at Goldman Sachs have now come in with their predictions for the 2014 World Cup finals. And, by a wide margin, Brazil are the favorites to win (3-1 over Argentina in the final match).

The problem, of course, is that football is a low-scoring game and, therefore, quite unpredictable. Thus, as the Goldman Sachs team admits, when looking at how their model would have done in predicting the goal difference in each game of the 2010 World Cup finals,

Overall, there is a positive and statistically significant relationship between the actual and predicted outcomes. However, the fit of the relationship is not particularly tight with an r- squared of 0.24, because football is ultimately a pretty random game.

As for me, with only the most informal of statistical analyses (in my head, based on what I know of the various national teams and the history of World Cups), I actually agree with the prediction: a final four of Germany, Spain, Brazil, and Argentina, and Brazil raising the trophy.

Then again, anything can happen. . .


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general-prayuth-and-the-coup-in-thailand-altagreer-thai David Simonds cartoon on eurozone recovery

Protesters from the Communist-affiliated trade union PAME shout slogans as they march towards the parliament during a general labour strike in Athens

Greek labor unions staged a nationwide strike today to protest against austerity policies imposed on the country by the current government and its foreign creditors, including Germany.

Schools and pharmacies were shut, ships remained docked at ports, hospitals operated on emergency staff, and transport in Athens was disrupted due to the 24-hour strike called by private sector union GSEE and its public sector counterpart ADEDY.

More than 20,000 workers, pensioners, students and the unemployed marched peacefully through the streets of the Greek capital chanting “EU, IMF take the bailout and get out of here!”

Unions said their anti-austerity message was also aimed at German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is due to meet Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in Athens on Friday. Germany has insisted on painful spending cuts and tax hikes in return for international loans.

“It’s time to save people not banks,” said 59-year old economist Eleni Prokou. “Merkel and the troika should stop sticking their nose in our business.”


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Amazon warehouse workers in Germany have walked off the job and, at the same time, have taken their case directly to the e-commerce giant’s Seattle headquarters.

German warehouse workers have been conducting brief walkouts since last spring in what were the first strikes against the company anywhere. Amazon said 1,115 workers did not show up Monday but that Christmas packages would still be delivered on time. The company employs about 23,000 full-time and seasonal workers in Germany.

On the surface, the dispute is about money. The German labor union Ver.di wants Amazon workers classified as retail employees, but Amazon says they are logistics workers who should be paid less.

Underneath this is a bigger question of whether the warehouse workers should have any control over their workplace. The employees, also known as “pickers,” assemble the orders. Amazon warehouses are marvels of engineering and efficiency, but picking is still hard physical labor. There is constant monitoring and little job security.


Well, the results are in and, to paraphrase Chico Escuela, the current recovery been berry, berry good to corporate CEOs in the United States.

According to GMI Ratings’ 2013 CEO Pay Survey, CEO compensation has set a new record: for the first time ever, the ten highest-paid chief executives in the United States all received more than $100 million in compensation and two of them took home billion-dollar paychecks.


The report also shows that the median increase in total realized compensation for S&P 500 CEOs was 19.65 percent (an increase even over last year, when they benefited from a 13.78-percent increase at the median).

While salary, bonuses, and perks remained relatively flat in the S&P 500, it was the profits made from the exercise of stock options and the vesting of restricted stock that represented the bulk of pay in the index. Examples include Michael D. White, third-year CEO of DIRECTV, who saw a realized compensation increase from $5.7 million in 2011 to $50.8 million in 2012. The increase occurred when Mr. White exercised more than one million stock options (worth $18 million) and saw more than a half million units of restricted stock vest (worth $26.8 million), all equity granted in a CEO Golden Hello. The company’s stock price has climbed about 80% over the past three years.

The average increase for the same group was 55.18 percent.

To make the appropriate comparison, consider the increase in hourly pay for workers (production and nonsupervisory) between December 2011 and December 2012. It amounted to 1.8 percent. The growing gap between those at the top and the rest meant that, in 2012, the CEO-to-worker-pay ratio in the United States rose to 354 to 1.*

Clearly, the current recovery has been very good for a tiny minority of executives, who are managing to leave everyone else behind.


*Again, for purposes of comparison, that ratio was 42:1 in 1982 and 281:1 just a decade ago. In terms of other countries, it was 89:1 in Sweden, 93:1 in Australia, and 147:1 in Germany in 2012.

September 23, 2013

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