Monthly Archive: November 2018

Cansel Kiziltepe: SPD MP accompanies Ryanair stewardess to scare-date

A machine of the Irish low-cost airline Ryanair landing in Frankfurt am Main. The Kreuzberg member of parliament Cansel Kiziltepe (SPD) wants to support a flight attendant of Ryanair on Tuesday at a very unpleasant appointment. Kiziltepe, since 2013 for the SPD in the Bundestag and deputy fiscal spokeswoman for her group , plans to visit the headquarters of the low-cost airline in the Irish capital Dublin on Tuesday afternoon. This confirmed the MP to the Tagesspiegel on Monday evening. She will travel with a flight attendant from the airline who was quoted for the Dublin call. An exact reason was not called her, said employee Janina Schneider *. After discussions with colleagues, however, she expects to receive her notice.

She was only half a year with Ryanair, in two weeks, their contract would be terminated, Schneider said. In the meantime, she had to get sick three times for a total of seven days. She also participated in strike action. For experience, Ryanair shows little understanding for this. Therefore, Schneider’s concern is to be fired. “They’re always finding new people so they can just throw us away,” she said.

Complaints about “temporary workers in chain contracts”

Representative Kiziltepe has regularly met with Ryanair staff as a “godmother” of the Verdi union in recent months. These are currently dealing with their employer a fierce conflict. It is about things that are taken for granted in most German Airlines: Regulated working hours, employment contracts that do not feel like fake self-employment, a universal collective agreement, the approval of works councils.

The new Karstadt owner: René Benko, the golden boy from Tyrol

Image result for René Benko

René Benko has a flair for the business. He has become rich with real estate. The Tyrolean does not even have a high school diploma. At the age of 17, the son of a community official and an educator dropped out of school to build dusty attics into luxury apartments. In 1999, at the beginning of 20, he founded his first company called Immofina. A year later he bought his first objects: two attics in Vienna. This then became the company group Signa with a real estate assets of 6.5 billion euros. His projects include, among others, the “Golden Quarter”, for which Benko in Vienna built some streets in the city center into a Nobel shopping mall with luxury apartments.

“It’s not just talent, but also the consequence of working hard, not giving up, not leaving the path and moving and doing more than others want to do,” Benko said three years ago when he spoke with the Austrian Caesar was named Real Estate Manager of the Year. He does not only rely on his own strength, but also knows how to engage the right people. He has, for example, brought the former Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer, the management consultant Roland Berger and former Porsche CEO Wendelin Wiedeking onto the advisory board of his Signa Group.

His 37-year-old’s success is due not only to his flair for luxurious apartments, but also to his talent for convincing wealthy and influential people, such as the Greek shipowner George Economou, whom he met in 2008 and the 50 percent of Signa stops (see page 8). Gladly shows Benko with celebrities from politics, business, sports and entertainment, it can be seen on the Signa website with Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier and in a video on Youtube with Tina Turner. Benko has long been a star himself.

But the success of the golden boy, as he called “time Austria”, also has a dark side. His good contacts did not prevent him from being sentenced to a one-year probation sentence in a corruption trial: he was accused of using his tax adviser to bribe politicians who should intervene in favor of Signa in a tax matter. The Supreme Court in Vienna confirmed the judgment recently.

The flight attendant companion

Image result for Cansel Kiziltepe of the SPD

It was a special business trip for the Kreuzberg member of parliament Cansel Kiziltepe of the SPD. On Tuesday she accompanied three Berlin employees of the Irish low-cost airline Ryanair, which had been cited in the headquarters to Dublin. The reason for this “invitation” was not very clear. All three, two men and one lady, work as flight attendants and had previously participated in strike action. As a rule, this employer is allergic, also allegedly with dismissals. Where he leads in different cases, other reasons.

Kiziltepe wanted to support the three, see what she had heard only by hearsay in her capacity as a volunteer “godmother” for the service union Verdi. And preferably the opinion of the management of this airline. “It can not be the case that companies cross-borderly violate workers’ rights. That’s why I would like to personally support and accompany the employee on her difficult date, ” she told the Tagesspiegel before leaving for Dublin.

And as a precaution, she also published a short video on her Facebook page , in which the slightly more prominent Federal Labor Minister and SPD party colleague Hubertus Heil stands by her side. “The employees at Ryanair have our support,” says Heil in the film. “The job situation at this company has moved me deeply, because I have experienced that cabin crew members not only have bad wages, not only bad working conditions, but, when they started arguing for their rights, were downright harassed.” ( Read here a report from a visit to Salvation by Frankfurt Ryanair staff).

The federal government and countries are aiming at a change in the law

From this one would have to draw conclusions. “We will change a law in Germany. There will also be a works council guarantee for the airspace, “Heil announced, opening doors for some of the federal states to launch a corresponding Federal Council initiative. Apparently, salvation seeks to amend paragraph 117 of the Works Constitution Act before the end of the year. This states that aviation companies do not necessarily have to make their employees working in flight available through a works council.

Heil explains in the film that Kiziltepe accompanies the Ryanair staff to make it clear in Dublin that “who confuses globalization with exploitation, the resistance not only of employees, but the entire German social democracy and European politics.”

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About this concentrated social democratic support, the three were pleased by the Ryanair crew. Colleague Janina Schneider, said she was barely half a year with Ryanair, in two weeks, her contract should be time-limited. During that time, she had to get sick three times for a total of seven days. She also confirms her participation in strike action – and flew to Ireland with a queasy feeling. “They’re always finding new people so they can just throw us away,” she said. For 13 years she worked for various employers and never had a similar conflict. “We went on strike because we just want our rights. That means, for example, a German employment contract . That’s not asking too much, is it? “

Everything was over after ten minutes

Tuesday afternoon, the group arrived at the Ryanair headquarters. All three colleagues had one-to-one interviews – none of them lasted more than five to ten minutes, reported the MP, who had to wait in an anteroom. “Extremely friendly”, everyone had been treated. However, probably hard in the matter. So the Irish wanted to learn from the employee Schneider also the reason for their sick leave.

Cansel Kiziltepe asked for an appointment with Ryanair’s personnel manager, with whom she apparently already had contact. He was not there. Another conversation partner, who would have been eligible, was not on the fast. “I did not sign up,” admits Kiziltepe. Whether their escort helped these three flight attendants in the end or even harmed, was not clear by Tuesday night. While other colleagues in Dublin are said to have received immediate notice of termination, Ryanair’s staffers consoled these three for the next few days.

High rents – Expensive real estate: housing prices become a risk of poverty

More and more Germans are overindebted. Especially the elderly are affected

In Germany, people are gorgeous, one should think. Unemployment is low and the economy is good. Nevertheless, more and more people are unable to pay their bills on a long-term basis and are over-indebted. This year, the number of over-indebted consumers in the Federal Republic has risen by around 19,000 to more than 6.9 million, the credit agency Creditreform reported on Tuesday in Dusseldorf. In other words, in just over one in ten adults, total expenditure is consistently higher than revenue. Overall, the Germans are now in debt with 208 billion euros.

This development particularly affects seniors from the age of 70 years. 263,000 of them are in debt – 35 percent more than last year. The situation is similar for the 60 to 69 year olds. The increase in employment at retirement age is an indication that the pension is often no longer sufficient, said the head of economic research of Creditreform, Michael Bretz. On the other hand, there is also a ray of hope: Consumers under the age of 30 have noticeably less debt.

Cause of the increasing debt are, among other things, the high housing prices . The development of income and housing costs has decoupled especially in structurally strong regions such as the big cities. While purchasing power is slow to settle, the cost of rents and real estate has soared. The Creditreform Debt Atlas states: “At least in German cities, housing has become a risk of poverty, in any case an over-indebted risk.” At the same time, the study warned that over-indebtedness, caused by high housing costs, would only be visible with a time lag Real estate boom abated. ” Moreover , if the economic situation deteriorates , which is to be expected in view of the global conditions and the economic cycle, the number of cases of over-indebtedness will increase noticeably in the near future.”

Although unemployment is still the most common cause of debt, it is becoming less important as a booming job market. Instead, uneconomic housekeeping is developing into a new main trigger.

Key interest rate remains at zero: ECB chief Draghi sees no problem in Italy’s debt

Related imageThe key interest rate in the eurozone remains at the record low of zero percent, at least until the summer of next year. This was confirmed by ECB President Mario Draghi on Thursday after the meeting of the Council of the Central Bank. However, the ECB is sticking to its plan to end purchases of government and government bonds issued by eurozone countries at the end of the year.

Draghi was also confident that a solution could be found for the dispute between the EU Commission and Italy over the country’s budgetary policy. But he made clear that the ECB insists on compliance with the rules of the Stability Pact.

In addition to the zero interest rate , which has been at a record low since March 2016, the Governing Council of the ECB also left the interest rate that banks must pay on deposits at the central bank at minus 0.4 percent. In recent months, the ECB has halved its bond purchases to a level of 15 billion euros per month. In total, since March 2015, it has purchased more than € 2.5 trillion worth of paper.

At most, the economy is experiencing a period of weakness

The aim is to boost lending in the euro area, which in turn boosts growth and ultimately inflation. The ECB is aiming for an inflation rate of two percent. Draghi has not yet reached that, although it was at 2.1 percent in September. However, the ECB is responsible for the widely fluctuating prices for energy and food.

New procedure: Middelhoff should have deceived creditors by millions

Against the former Arcandor boss Thomas Middelhoff runs according to media reports a new procedure. He should have made fortunes before his personal bankruptcy.

Ex-Arcandor boss Thomas Middelhoff. The prosecution Bielefeld has initiated after investigations by WDR and ” Süddeutsche Zeitung ” a new procedure against the former top manager Thomas Middelhoff and his lawyer Hartmut Fromm. Middelhoff is said to have moved before his personal bankruptcy sums of money and have deceived creditors so. Fromm should have supported him. The prosecution had confirmed this on request, reported WDR and “Süddeutsche” on Tuesday. The two accused therefore denied the allegations.

The former Arcandor boss Middelhoff was sentenced in November 2014 by the district court of Essen to three years imprisonment , among other things for embezzlement of corporate assets. He was released in November 2017. On 31 March 2015, he submitted a request for private insolvency proceedings, according to the report.

It is undisputed that in the years before the personal bankruptcy more and more of the Middelhoff assets flowed into companies that his lawyer Fromm controlled, wrote the “Süddeutsche”. In return, these companies regularly paid money to Middelhoff to finance his private life and his legal fees.

Middelhoff’s insolvency administrator Thorsten Fuest has sued Fromm and his Berlin law firm Bielefeld district court for payment of 5.1 million euros, reported the “Süddeutsche”. The content of this action had also triggered the prosecutor’s investigation.

Strategy of the Federal Government: Germany wants to be a leader in artificial intelligence

When the Cabinet meets on Wednesday and Thursday for the closed-door meeting in Potsdam, nothing less than Germany’s future viability is on the agenda. The Artificial Intelligence strategy is to be decided. The paper in the Tagesspiegel, with its 80 pages, is almost a small coalition agreement. Although some concrete measures can be found in it – in some points the strategy shows weaknesses.

It wants to invest three billion euros by 2025 in order to make Germany “one of the world’s leading locations for AI”. That may sound like a lot, but can be seen in an international comparison: France is 1.5 billion euros in AI by 2023, China wants to create by 2030 a government-sponsored 150-billion-dollar industry.

For the time being, only € 50 million is earmarked for AI research in 2019, € 450 million for subsequent years. 116 million euros are added to the Agency for Jump Innovations – that even more money is added is not excluded. The government is already demonstrating its ambition with the strategy to apply for additional funds. In any case, it assumes that its funding will also trigger investment in industry, science and in the federal states, so that it will “at least double the funds made available by the federal government”.

AI research itself is already excellent in Germany . To keep it that way, at least twelve centers should join together to form a network. From the originally announced German-French research center in physical form, however, only a “virtual center” is left in the end.

Government wants to tie up overall package

In order to hold top researchers and attract them from abroad, the government wants to create an attractive “overall package”. So there should be a dual-career model, which makes it easier for them to switch between science and industry. This addresses one of the big sticking points: Excellent research has so far rarely and too slowly found its way into marketable products and services by German companies – just like the MP3 player, whose technology was developed in Germany, but the money is companies from Asia.

But no concrete solution is found in the strategy of how KI top researchers can be better paid in the future. This would require an adjustment of the civil service collective agreement (TVöD), but so far there have been no allegations of any talks between Verdi and the civil servants’ union with the Ministry of Economy. Here the government would have to reload.

Researchers not only need good working conditions, but above all data. Therefore, the government wants to promote research for pseudonymization and anonymization. If convincing models are developed here, more citizens should also be prepared to make their data available for research purposes. In addition to real data, the government also wants to push ahead, however, that data can be generated more easily in the future synthetically. Companies themselves are to enter into “data partnerships” with the involvement of the antitrust authorities.

The middle class should profitImage result for Deutschland will bei Künstlicher Intelligenz führend sein

This should then also benefit the middle class, who should get in the matter of AI tuition from so-called “AI trainers”. At least 20 such trainers should advise and assist the small and medium-sized companies with the implementation of AI. The effect of such measures is so far difficult to measure. This should change now: With an AI monitoring, the government wants to determine the penetration of AI applications.

A German AI observatory is also to be founded, which should in particular observe how AI affects the world of work. In the future, it could also act as a supervisory body and, for example, check application and personnel planning software for discrimination. There was no agreement between the ministries on a separate employment data protection law. Here is probably 2019 refilled.

In any case, at the beginning of 2020, one year before the end of the current legislative period, the government intends to review how the strategy works and whether and how it has to be adapted to the new developments – so that “KI – made in Germany” becomes a seal of quality.'[‘

Competition expert Heike Schweitzer: “Concern for the innovative ability of the German economy is justified”

Competition for Google would be good, says Heike Schweizer. Mrs. Schweitzer, you are an expert in competition law, advise EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager and the German government, which wants to set limits on tech giants like Google , Amazon , Facebook and Apple . Do you actually use these so-called GAFA platforms yourself?

 am quite convinced of the many advantages of the GAFA economy, use Google, Amazon and Apple products myself. But I’m not on Facebook.

Because you care about your data?
Such concerns can be had on Facebook, but for me it’s more because I lack the time to use social networks. But of course I know how Facebook works.

The US has GAFA, China has Alibaba. Why has not a platform developed to this extent in Germany?
There are also quite successful platforms here, but they are much smaller, for example in the field of events, dating or real estate – not giants like Facebook or Google. The fact that these come from the USA and not from Europe, is not due to a too tight competition law, but rather to the particularly in the USA particularly pronounced risk and innovation readiness. We are catching up – but it would be helpful to support this process with an innovation-friendly legal framework.

How are risk-taking entrepreneurs in Germany slowed down so far?
We regulate new business ideas regularly about the legal framework that has been developed for the old business models. That’s why new business models can become harder to enforce. For example, the US driver service Uber, which was banned in Germany, because for him the laws of the long-established taxi industry should apply. Certainly there is a need for regulation at Uber. But this must be tailored to the new market conditions. This often happens faster in the US than in Germany. Therefore, it would make sense to set up a deregulation commission in Germany.

What should this commission do for deregulation?
It would have to work sector specific. Take a look at whether the regulation is still adequate for the area of ​​transport or the rental market, for example, or if innovations are being prevented. But you need more time than almost nine months, as we now have for working with the Commission Competition Law 4.0.

Is the government ready to set up such a commission?
I see a great willingness to handle digital topics in all ministries. In my opinion, everything that promises to foster innovation is listened to with much benevolence. Therefore, I can imagine that we will get such a commission for deregulation.

Is it even problematic that Germany does not have big platforms like Google and Facebook?
I think we are focusing too much on the big GAFA platforms in the current debate. It would be bad if we missed the whole digital economy or the new developments in data economy. Or if there were no successful platforms in Germany and Europe. That’s not the case. Germany has been a leader in many industrial sectors so far, and these strengths are now combined with new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence. I am confident that German companies in this field can become competitive players.

However, services like Amazon are not only growing rapidly in breadth, but also in depth: The online retailer also offers music and video services for Prime customers.
The fact that different industries merge and companies enter other markets is part of the normal competitive process. However, it is problematic if a dominant company, especially a platform operator, creates incentives for customers through coupling strategies not to switch to another platform. Amazon Prime may have negative consequences for the competition from this point of view. Of course, it also has advantages for the customers. Therefore, the competition classification is difficult.

What role does Amazon’s digital voice assistant Alexa play?
Alexa has another problem with the competition. Because Amazon is not only a trading platform, but there also acts as a seller. Amazon could now use Alexa to control customer demand for their own offerings. When we order washing powder on Amazon ourselves, we make an active choice. If we say, “Alexa, order some washing powder!” Then we do not know from which point of view Alexa makes a selection. This can then jeopardize competition on the respective product markets, in this case on the market for washing powders.

How do you want to tackle it?
The problem lies mainly in how Alexa and Co. are constructed. The name of digital butlers alone already shows that they should serve the customer, so he must have a duty of interest to him – and not act as a servant of the interests of Amazon. This is not legally clear so far, so I think it makes sense to legally anchor such a duty of interest to the consumer.

How could you do that?
In principle, this can be developed from contract law – without any regulatory intervention. Civil courts can establish contractual loyalty obligations for digital assistants. The fiduciary duty would be violated if the customer sells a more expensive, inferior or a product that does not meet his preferences.

However, platforms like Amazon not only know which washing powder a customer prefers, but they also collect numerous other data. SPD boss Andrea Nahles now wants to force them to share this data, so that smaller companies have a chance in the competition. Is this a good idea?
Concern about the innovative ability of the German economy is justified. Artificial intelligence will play an increasingly important role and become an important part of the competition. But for AI to work, you need large amounts of data that many small businesses do not have. If you want to be part of this highly innovative market, you need access to such data.

How can this be guaranteed?
We should create incentives for companies to share their data, for example through data pools that actively market large volumes of data. And possibly incentives for individuals should be created to put their data in shared data pools. They would then regularly receive a dividend. Hitherto frequently monopolistic data markets could become so competitive markets.

Demonstration march in Ukraine

In Kiev the so-called “March of the Gleicheit” took place on 17.6.2018. Between 3,000 and 5,000 people took part in the march to demonstrate for the rights of homosexuals. The participants included American and Canadian ambassadors as well as German Minister of State Michael Roth. This is reported by the Tagesschau.

Approximately 150 right-wing counter-demonstrators lined up for the march, but this could be continued. Five police officers were injured and 50 people were arrested. Above all, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate wants to ban the march. The March of Equality takes place annually since 2013, with the exception of 2014.

Double agents of the stock market

Double agents of the stock marketep ricardo curras dia y amando sanchez

Having a large investor in the shareholding is not always synonymous with tranquility and confidence for a listed company. On the contrary, it can be a source of instability. Many are ‘double agents’ who earn money whether the stock goes up or when it goes down . Ask the DIA distribution chain, which is listed on the stock exchange with the sword of Damocles that means having 20% ​​of its capital in the hands of bearish investors. It is an unprecedented photo in any company listed on the Spanish stock exchange.

Despite the tumult and closing of shorts caused at the end of July by the Russian Mikhail Fridman, who declared 10% of DIA’s capital, bearish investors continue to dominate the capital of the Spanish company directed by Ricardo Currás, despite having reduced the 24.5% to 20% its percentage declared before the CNMV the first week of August.

The alignment of ‘hedge funds’ with positions against DIA seems endless: Marshall Wace (3.5%), GLG Partners (0.6%), the fund of George Soros SFK UK Management (0.5%); Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (0.67%); Highbridge (0.47%), UBS Asset Management (1.48%); Worldquant (0.5%) Darsana Capital Partners (1.23%), Dalton (0.5%), Delores Holdings , with 3.3% … And up to twenty funds have participated in recent months in the dance of bearish positions that DIA lives.


These investors bet in short on the share of DIA through derivatives or, directly, the sale of shares that they have borrowed previously. Your benefit occurs if the quote falls and you can buy them cheaper before returning them to their owner .

The usual thing is to resort to depositaries or funds that go long term with large amounts of shares in exchange for the payment of a rent. That additional income is added to the dividend payment of the company and the guarantee of recovering the shares within an agreed period, which forces the bearish investor to buy them back on the stock exchange.


What they hide this list of names is the origin of the actions with which these funds have been put down on DIA. According to the documentation sent to the CNMV, it is the institutions themselves with relevant positions in the shareholding and supposedly bullish who are lending their shares to the aforementioned funds. The last to confess this ‘sin’ is Goldman Sachs, the all-powerful Wall Street investment bank. The company broke into DIA with 3.9% of the company, although in a matter of days it dropped to 2.8% and it keeps on loan a part of its titles: 0.3%.

It’s not the only one. Blackrock , the world’s largest fund manager, holds a 6.5% position in the capital of DIA, but 2.5% of this package in loan position. The investment bank Morgan Stanley declares 4.1% of the Spanish company, but 3.1% is food for the bears. Even Norges Bank , the custodian of the Norwegian sovereign fund, has loaned 2% of the 3% it holds in DIA. Together, these four large investors have loaned 8% of the capital of 16% they claim to own.

Why lend to your enemy? In the case of the four large funds mentioned, their shares end up on loan among themselves seeking to maximize their profits in the usual long-short strategies among hedge funds. It is a way to get extra profitability. For example, a fund with shares of DIA will collect its dividends, it will benefit from a potential increase in shares, but meanwhile, if it lends those securities, it will obtain the payment of a ‘rent’ on the part of the bearish investor.

In this strange ‘win-win’ all win … except the small minority shareholders who attend as guests of stone to this swing . On paper, investment funds based in Spain are also foreign to these operations as they can not lend their shares. It is one of the pending claims of the collective investment industry in Spain, which requires a reform to compete on equal terms.

However, these restrictions can be avoided thanks to the large custodian banks of shares such as Goldman Sachs, BNY Mellon or Chase Nominess , which include in their custody contracts the possibility of operating on a loan with these securities. Many of these securities, in fact, belong to the securities accounts of small investors who, without knowing it for sure, have signed a contract with their usual broker that allows it.

Behind this type of situation, however, there are large loopholes in regulation and a larger debate: Should the securities lending be prohibited by the reference shareholders of a company? Their access to the management team, decision-making and even the board of directors of a company allows them to know in advance when things are going to go wrong or for a listed company. Their status as major shareholders puts them in a position of domination and influence on the price. A power that implies a great responsibility. Should Amancio Ortega be able to lend his shares for a season? Or the Del Pino, Villar Mir, Florentino Pérez?