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Category Archives: Business
From misunderstandings over vocabulary to confusion about jokes, five business leaders spill the beans about the challenges of communication
Richard Goring, managing consultant at BrightCarbon, is British and has lived in the US for just over a year.
I started working with Americans straight after university. On my first business trip out here I found Americans loud and gregarious, and I didn’t really get it. Their enthusiasm seemed false; I’ve since come to realise it’s not. Americans tend to be more optimistic and celebrate success far more than the British.
Americans blur work and personal lives a lot more, so you’re more likely to see colleagues and clients in a social setting and friends and acquaintances will be far more interested in your job. Networking seems to be a bigger deal in the US than the UK.
Americans and Brits both have a fabulous sense of humour. Brits should watch their self-deprecating streak in the US though. If you play down your achievements, Americans take it at face value.
Sport is a small-talk staple in both countries and many Americans are clued up on the Premier League, which is fun if your team is playing well. But I’ve noticed Americans seem more keen on celebrity chit chat than Brits.
Dealing with UK business people is closer to dealing with American business people than any other country. But our accents set us apart – I sound like a redneck from the south and Brits have a sexy tone.
Brits are very matter of fact in business; they rarely get emotional, whereas American CEOs get worked up. The British are pretty direct too – I’ve never lost a UK client because they’ll tell me about any problems.
Business in the US is more about getting the job done than spending time on pleasantries. Meetings tend to be sharper; Americans get on with it and get out of there. That translates to emails too – Americans’ messages tend to be more of a stream of consciousness; they wouldn’t set an email out formally like Brits do.
Money is much more a focus here than in the UK – it always comes up in meetings. Return on investment is much faster here.
When I first moved to England I tried to tone down my ‘Americanness’ because I thought it might make people uncomfortable. But I’ve realised that my Americanness – my southernness more specifically – is a bit of a unique selling point. So I’ve made the most of my bubbly and familiar nature here.
I’ve noticed that Brits seem to despise phone calls; it’s all about email. Occasionally, when I ring a client, they seem a bit shocked.
I remember thinking how much friendlier Americans were when I first arrived. When I walked to the bus stop each morning, people in the neighbourhood would say hello as I passed. It’s not that way back home; you walk down the street trying not to make eye contact. The American approach is better for business. It’s much easier to get a conversation started here, which means networking is easier, too.
I lived with a fellow Brit when I first moved here, so I’ve kept my accent – and it’s a good ice breaker. Americans like to talk about Britain. I still love it when Americans ask if – because you’re from England – you know their friend James who lives there.
Americans are more straight-forward, which can seem blunt to Brits. It’s the Brits’ roundabout politeness that I find the most different. I’ve learnt to read between the lines: when a Brit says ‘that’s interesting’, it normally means the opposite. Americans are also more comfortable with self-promotion; this can come off as a bit gauche in Britain.
Meetings in America are more transactional – we stick to an agenda, usually start on time and there isn’t a lot of chit-chat (we save that for the networking drinks or meal). In Britain there are a lot of pleasantries and talking around the topics before diving into the agenda.
• Former oldco director says he is on brink of taking control of Rangers
• Dave King still faces battle to force Mike Ashley allies to step down
• David Somers steps down as chairman of Rangers
Dave King claims he is on the verge of taking control of Rangers after the club’s chief executive Derek Llambias admitted he had secured a “landslide victory”.
The former oldco director has already seen off the chairman David Somers and the director James Easdale after calling a general meeting to defeat the Ibrox board.
Rolling economic and financial news, as a new survey finds that investors are more concerned about Greece leaving the eurozone
- Bank of England’s Carney and Habgood at TSC
- Latest: Greek reform bills could be delayed
- Sentix: 38% of investors see eurozone break-up this year
- Grexit fears highest since autumn 2012
- Stunning German retail sales figures
Syriza MP Costas Lapavitsas’ observation that Greece’s best hope, now, is to leave the euro [see 8.11am post] has not gone without comment in Athens.
“Lapavitsas has built an entire career on the return of the drachma,”
“Yanis Varoufakis has found himself in a position of pressure that no Greek fiannce minister has found himself in for five years…
He is a good economist with a strong pedigree and wide experience of the world economy.”
@Hugodixon Only I never said that Hugo…. Your Greek needs some brushing up (or better sources)
Greek bonds have rallied this morning, pushing down the yield (or interest rates) on the debt.
The yield on Greek 10-year bonds has dipped to 9.76%, from 9.9% last night, meaning its value has risen.
Greek bonds rally after talk of third bailout http://t.co/UjBnCIqLLl
More from the Treasury committee…..
Carney admits the Bank’s rep has “taken a knock” as a result of the forex rigging scandal. “It hasn’t been a pleasant experience”.
Carney tells MPs the Bank has made “fairly radical changes” to the way it deals with market intelligence in light of forex rigging scandal
Factoid of the day: the number of takeovers involving UK companies has hit its lowest level since records began in 1987.
That’s mainly due to a steady decline in the number of acquisitions of British companies by other UK firms in recent years. More here.
Mark Carney has conceded that the Bank’s chief currency dealer, Martin Mallett, would probably have been fired over the FX scandal, if the BoE hadn’t found other reasons to dismiss him (the day before its report was published….)
Carney asked by MP Jesse Norman whether he would have fired Mallett on Grabiner findings alone. His answer (in short) was yes.
Carney says that if Mallett hadnt been fired for other violations, in his opinion, Mallett should’ve gone for not escalating forex issues
Mallett’s 20 failings took place over an 8 year period according to Carney #bbcnews
The European Union has reiterated that they’re not working on a third bailout for Greece (as Spain’s finance minister suggested yesterday).
EU SPOKESWOMAN SAYS WORK HAS NOT STARTED ON THIRD GREEK BAILOUT
Governor Mark Carney is adamant that the Bank of England has seriously beefed up its market intelligence operations since it learned that foreign exchange traders had been manipulating the FX market:
Carney says BoE has improved professionalisation now e.g. Bank staff have ‘escalated’ 50 concerns, 40 of which have been referred to the FCA
Carney says Bank has improved market intelligence gathering approach. Separating the “gossip” from strategic issues.
Carney: Bank is expanding its market intelligence team from 10 full-time staff to 15.
After an early rally, the London stock market has subsided with the FTSE 100 up just 5 points.
Barclays is now the biggest faller, down 3% after investors digest its drop in statutory pre-tax profits and new provisions for banking scandals.
Foreign exchange rigging fines weigh on Barclays results http://t.co/XqNIFyTP1t
There is a sense of déjà vu in London after the market got off to a strong start only to be brought back down to Earth by the commodity stocks. Taylor Wimpey shares hit a new seven-year high after the homebuilder more than doubled its dividend. The company kept up with its competitors by posting a steady increase in annual profits and a solid start to the spring selling season. The Help to Buy scheme and a more regulated mortgage market will keep the housebuilder happy.
Barclays registered a 12% increase in underlying pre-tax profits, but when you consider the provisions set aside for PPI and FX manipulation it swings to a 21% drop in profits. The bank may be at its strongest ‘since the financial crisis’ but the fines and provisions have detracted from the company’s balance sheet. Barclays’ capital structure isn’t under question, and as long as legal costs loom over the bank the share price will remain restricted.
MPs now asking whether the terms of reference for Grabiner’s review went far enough. Carney says he wasn’t involved with striking terms.
Back in parliament, Bank of England governor Mark Carney has defended the official inquiry into its role in the foreign exchange-rigging scandal, led by Lord Grabiner.
My colleague Angela Monaghan is tweeting the key points from the Treasury committee:
Carney defiant, insisting Grabiner review got to the “heart of the matter” on Bank’s role in the forex scandal (not guilty of impropriety)
Carney defends the timing of the firing of its chief currency dealer Martin Mallett, a day before Grabiner report was published. 1/2
Carney says a review of e-mails and phone calls revealed a “series of misjudgments” by Mallett that could not be ignored. 2/2
Carney: Mallett’s misjudgments incl sharing BoE docs externally, violation of IT policy, venturing personal opinions, inappropriate language
Greece’s finance minister appeared to be in good spirits this morning, as he headed off to work:
Greece’s credit rating will be cut unless it agrees a long-lasting agreement with its partners over its funding needs, rating agency Fitch warned this morning.
Greece needs to secure a “durable” aid agreement with the rest of the euro zone to avoid a further downgrade of its already sub-investment grade sovereign rating, one of Fitch’s top analysts said on Tuesday.
“We believe that an agreement will ultimately be reached between Greece and its European partners as Grexit would be costly for both parties. Failure to reach a durable agreement would lead to a rating downgrade,” Fitch’s head of EMEA sovereigns, Ed Parker, said in a question and answer session In the Reuters Global Markets Forum chatroom.
European factory gate prices have fallen for the fourth month in a row, Eurostat reports.
The amount that firms were paid for their goods fell by 0.9% month-on-month in January, and were 3.4% lower than a year ago.
CHART: Luxembourg was only euro-area member with positive PPI reading in January. Energy prices continued to decline. pic.twitter.com/51HD8iH4u8
Underlying price pressures across the Eurozone look set to be limited for some considerable time to come because of the constraining effects of large output gaps in many countries following prolonged weak economic activity and still high unemployment.
Over in Athens, sources are telling our correspondent Helena Smith that “there is a good chance” the government will delay sending some draft laws aimed at alleviating Greece’s “humanitarian crisis” to parliament.
The laws were due to be gradually presented this week. On Monday, the government unveiled the first of the reforms – providing food stamps, reconnection of disconnected electricity supplies and shelter – for 300,000 families mostly in the poorer suburbs of Athens.
Other bills, however, including the introduction of a new scheme for repayment of overdue taxes and security contributions and the re-opening of the public broadcaster, ERT – shut down by former prime minister Antonis Samaras in June 2013 – are not likely to be brought before the House until after next week’s euro group meeting in Brussels on Monday.
The House of Commons Treasury Committee is starting to question Bank of England governor Mark Carney about the BoE’s investigation into misconduct in the foreign exchange market.
However….some UK construction firms did warn that uncertainty in the build-up to May’s general election may hit demand.
First look at UK PMI suggests there is a lot to be positive about within UK construction. Election seen as potential blip to activity though
Just in: Britain’s construction sector racked up surprisingly strong growth last month.
Markit’s Construction PMI, which measures activity across the sector, rose to 60.1 last month. That shows the fastest growth since October last year.
Markit/CIPS UK Construction PMI Feb: 60.1 (est 59; prev 59.1)
The Athens stock market is outperforming the rest of Europe, up around 2% in early trading.
That follows finance minister Yanis Varoufakis’s pledge to take six firm reform policies to Brussels next Monday. Investors may also be calmed by his promise that Greece will do everything in its power to meet its March debt repayments.
Our Athens correspondent, Helena Smith, tweets:
#Greece deputy pm Giannis Dragasakis denies that technical teams from dreaded “troika” – oops “institutions” – in Athens tmr
The latest Spanish unemployment figures also suggest that Europe’s economy is reviving.
The number of Spaniards out of work fell by 13,538 last month, or 0.3%, as factories and building firms took on more staff.
Key question: what conclusions will Spanish voters draw from contrast between Spain’s recovery and Syriza-induced disaster in Greece?
German consumers hit the shops with remarkable vigour last month, in the latest signal that Europe’s largest economy is gaining strength.
German retail sales jumped by 2.9% month-on-month in January, the biggest jump since January 2008.
JPM calles the rise in German retail sales “legendary”: pic.twitter.com/1pRLXnh9RA
I forgot to link earlier, sorry, but here’s the Sentix survey:
Here’s another chart from this morning’s Sentix’s eurozone survey, showing that fears of Greece leaving the eurozone are at their highest level since autumn 2012.
2014 was a good year for Barclays CEO Antony Jenkins.
“On this occasion I judged it was right for me to take my bonus….Barclays today is a stronger business, with better prospects, than at any time since the financial crisis.
Europe’s banks will not be subjected to a full stress test this year.
The European Banking Authority, which ran a health-check of the sector last autumn, announced the move (or non-move) this morning:
Writing in the Guardian today, Syriza MP Costas Lapavitsas argues that Greece’s best hope of ending its deflationary economic spiral is to leave the euro.
Lapavitsas warns that the next four months will be very tough for Athens as it tries to meet the demands of its lenders:
Tax income is collapsing, partly because the economy is frozen and partly because people are withholding payment in the expectation of relief from the extraordinary tax burden imposed over the last few years. The public purse will come under considerable strain already in March, when there are sizeable debt repayments to be made.
The most vital step is to realise that the strategy of hoping to achieve radical change within the institutional framework of the common currency has come to an end. The strategy has given us electoral success by promising to release the Greek people from austerity without having to endure a major falling-out with the eurozone.
Unfortunately, events have shown beyond doubt that this is impossible, and it is time that we acknowledged reality.
More investors expect the eurozone to fracture over the next 12 months than at any time since the Cyprus bailout crisis of March 2013.
The Euro Break-up Index, calculated by German research group Sentix, jumped to a two-year high of 38% in February, from around 24% in January, with more investors predicting a Greek exit.
The development is driven by a clearly worsening assessment of investors concerning Greece….
Despite the solution which was found last week for Greece ever more investors expect the Mediterranean country to leave the euro soon.
Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the world economy, the financial market, the eurozone, and business.
“We are negotiating a third rescue for Greece.”
“Euro zone finance ministers are not discussing a third bailout.”
in athens, we’re looking at the end of creative vagueness as finmin varoufakis says he’ll go to monday’s eurogroup with 6 proposed reforms
Barclays provides £1.25bn for forex rigging investigations, another £200m for PPI
Central bank and inflation ministry agree historic move to rein in volatile price rises by setting consumer inflation targets Continue reading…
Manufacturing PMI reflects new year bounce for economy but raises questions over government vow to move away from consumer-driven growth
British manufacturers enjoyed a pick-up in business last month but they relied on domestic demand as exports fell against the backdrop of a troubled eurozone and stronger pound.
A closely watched survey showed factories continued to enjoy a bounceback after a slow finish to 2014. But details showed little progress in the government’s push to rebalance the economy away from over-reliance on domestic consumer demand.
Scratching beneath the surface and we see a lopsided upturn, with the prime driver being a strong upsurge in new orders and production at consumer goods producers while a near-stalling of demand for plant and machinery points to ongoing weak business investment.
Separately, the appreciation of sterling is holding back the progress of UK exporters. It seems that, despite years of talk about a rebalancing of growth, we are still seeing only limited headway in moving away from consumer-driven expansions and towards a greater contribution from exports.
Services should presumably do even better since the consumer is facing a windfall from lower petrol and food prices which is likely to be spent. It’s a bit like winning a lottery scratch card rather than a euro millions payout but the point is it’s a positive and should help push the pace of quarterly GDP [growth] upwards over the course of the year.
The do-it-yourself maven talks tech, including her love of drones and the benefits of 3D printing, and her plans to become a go-to household brand in China
Martha Stewart, America’s do-it-yourself darling, has set her sights on a huge new market: China.
Speaking at New York Social Media Week this week, Stewart said that she is seeking international expansion for her eponymous lifestyle media and merchandising business, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.
I love my drones. I don’t know if all my neighbors love my drones. One of my drones got stuck up in a neighbor’s tree and that was kind of embarrassing to go and retrieve it.”
I started dreaming a long time ago about what computers could do for us, and I must say I have been very disappointed in what they can do for us.”
Then the other thing about staying classy online is don’t read a lot of what’s being written to you, because it’s not all very nice. And never look at the pictures. You don’t know what I’ve gotten. Oh. … I can just imagine what Kim Kardashian gets.”
I get unsolicited advice every single day. But I think it was my father – he was a really good guy – and he said, when I was very very young: ‘If you apply yourself you can do just about everything.’ And he is right.
‘India is about to take off,’ finance minister says, as he announces plans to slow pace of cutting deficit and to boost investment
Five years after a blacklist was found that singled out construction site workers for being union activists, the full extent of undercover police surveillance and collusion is still not known, and myriad questions remain
One Monday morning in February 2009, four investigators from the Information Commissioner’s office knocked on a door in an alley in Droitwich, West Midlands. It was opened by 66-year-old Ian Kerr. David Clancy, head of investigations at the ICO, had spent months hunting for the Consulting Association, which had no nameplate above its green door and didn’t appear on official records. But this was the epicentre of a 30-year covert operation involving the country’s top construction firms and security services. Eventually the repercussions from this raid would be felt in boardrooms and parliaments around the world.
For 16 years the Consulting Association compiled a secret database on thousands of construction workers. The files in this shabby two-room office had names, addresses and National Insurance numbers, comments by managers, newspaper clippings. The organisation acted as a covert vetting service funded by the industry. When people applied for work on building sites, senior employees at Carillion, Balfour Beatty, Skanska, Kier, Costain, McAlpine and more than 30 other companies would fax their names to the Consulting Association, where Kerr would check his files to see if they matched.
The Bundestag has voted to extend Greece’s aid programme by four months by a big majority, after hearing that Greece must meets its commitments
- Latest: Bailout extension approved
- But 29 CDU/CSU MPs rebel against Merkel
- Debate coverage starts here
- German MP attacks Bild’s “Nein” campaign
- Die Linke: Southern Europe needs a Marshall Plan
- Violence after Athens demonstration
So far, the EFSF has handed €141.bn in financial assistance to Greece. The last loan tranche, another €1.8bn, is available through June.
It’s official: The European Financial Stability Facility’s board of directors has extended the Greece bailout until June 30, says EFSF chief Klaus Regling. Read the full statement here.
The Greek government may be nervous of exposing splits within Syriza by holding a vote on the bailout extension, but failing to hold a vote will not look great:
Failing to put bailout extension deal to Greek parliament would be unwise and undemocratic #tripras
Another update from Helena Smith in Athens:
Angst over the pending funding gap is VERY real. Government figures show that tax revenues have dropped precipitously (22.5%) as a result of the political turmoil gripping the country. Greeks have simply stopped paying. The country’s former deputy premier Evangelos Venizelos has just made a statement saying rather than conducting real negotiations, the new leftist-led government is waging a “war of impressions,”
“The country is in a strategic vacuum. Just one month after the election everything is in the air. Revenues, cash requirements, fiscal targets. How will the fiscal gap that exists be plugged? Where are we going regarding the debt? Sadly our array of negotiating mistakes has taken us way off from the point we were when the parliament was dissolved,” he said referring to the day snap polls were called in December.
Apparently 29 CDU/CSU MPs voted against extending Greece’s bailout, the biggest rebellion among Angela Merkel’s bloc yet.
Bundestag Greece vote. The stats are in: 29 CDU/CSU voted no (including a former minister). Up from 13 CDU/CSU no votes over 2nd bailout.
While Greek bailout extension was passed in Bundestag by record margin for a euro vote, a record number of CDU/CSU MPs, 29, voted against
The FT’s Jeeven Vasagar reckons Angela Merkel has suffered a “substantial rebellion”, with 32 German MPs voting against giving Greece more time.
Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel faced dissent over her eurozone rescue policy on Friday after 32 legislators voted against extending Greece’s bailout.
While the four-month extension passed with a comfortable majority of 542 out of 587 lawmakers in the Bundestag who voted, there was a substantial rebellion within Ms Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and sister party the Christian Social Union. There were 13 abstentions.
Merkel now faces serious dissent from her party over Greece. How will it go in next vote, when stakes are higher? http://t.co/Wglpmo9hf8
Back in Greece, finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has caused quite a stir this morning by revealing that he was deliberately abstruse about targets and numbers in the list of reforms Athens proposed this week (Helena Smith writes).
“I use the term creative vagueness. I want to be the first minister of finance who will never refer to a number if I am not sure that I will attain it.”
“If we wanted real freedom from Europe, we would have to exit the euro but that would be catastrophic.”
A quick explainer:
The Bundestag vote means that Greece now has until the end of June to satisfy its lenders, and receive the final payment from its bailout programme, worth €7.2bn.
Our Europe editor sees ructions ahead:
Just as the German parliament was voting to extend Greece’s loan agreement, prime minister Alexis Tsipras was convening a meeting of his entire economics team at his office.
From Athens, Helena Smith reports:
Insiders are saying that the “emergency” talks Tsipras has called with his economic team are focusing on two things:
• 1) The financing gap that Greece faces imminently (it has to service IMF loans, which expire in March, of just under €2bn euro and has to redeem short-term debt amounting to €21.8bn by the end of June).
The fact that Germans approved this deal 542 votes v 32 and syriza cant even agree on whether there shd be a vote in Gr tells you who “won”
#Bundestag huge majority extends greek bailout. but 45 against or abstained must almost all have come from merkel cdu/csu ranks
This is the biggest majority for any vote on eurozone bailouts since the crisis began, reports Germany’s Spiegel news magazine.
Bundestag’s approval of Greek bailout extension passed by largest margin of any eurozone crisis related vote to date (h/t @SPIEGELONLINE)
So, a pretty resounding majority in favour of the bailout extension – we don’t yet know who the rebels are, though.
The Bundestag voted overwhelmingly in favour of the four-month extension of the Greek bailout. Of 587 votes cast,
542 – yes
Meanwhile in Greece, a spoof video clip hailing the charms of their finance minister has caused quite a stir.
Athens correspondent Helena Smith reports:
It got an airing on SKAI’s flagship news programme last night and is doing the rounds of social media like wild-fire. The one person who has NOT commented on it is Yanis Varoufakis himself. Recently the Greek finance minister told me that he didn’t have time to follow what the global media was saying of him.
“I’ve always had a healthy contempt for the media, especially the awful tabloid media, and whether they celebrate or disparage me, it doesn’t matter. I really don’t care. The media pulls you up and then they dump [on] you. The more you rise, the harder the fall but it doesn’t bother me at all. I am ready for it … the star system was always very low in my list of priorities (many might dispute that…).”
Every time we thought we’d reached the top another peak of Yanis was perceived in the distance — https://t.co/b40I83Ohjp
It is not clear when we will get the result. Watch this space.
They are counting the votes.
The debate is finally over, and MPs are voting right now:
The debate is nearly over. MPs will vote on the Greek bailout extension shortly.
In a lively debate in the German parliament, Thorsten Frei, of the CDU/CSU, hits back at the previous speakers from his party. He says this is not about approving a new bailout, but about seeing the existing Greek bailout through to its successful conclusion.
As an update, German MPs still debating in the lower house, expecting a vote around 1015GMT…
Klaus-Peter Willsch of the conservative CDS/CSU group is against extending the Greek bailout.
He argues that Greece needs to crack on with reforms. Noting the high rate of youth unemployment, he deplores that labour costs in Greece are still twice as high as in Poland and Slovenia. Would you buy a used car from Tsipras or Varoufakis, he asks.
It’s best to get unpleasant things over and done with.
Greece doesn’t need a Marshall plan. Greece [already] has a Marshall plan.
Solidarity is not a one-way street.
Schäfer calls for mutual understanding, rather than provocative statements (this is partly aimed at his parliamentary colleagues). He stresses
There is no German diktat for Athens. There is a debate.
Holding up a copy of mass daily Bild’s “Nein!” page, Axel Schäfer of the SPD says:
We do not support campaigns against other countries.
CSU general secretary Andreas Scheuer calls on Greece “to deliver” (reforms).
The German parliamentary debate continues. Solidarity (in Europe) is today’s watchword.
A quick recap from today’s debate on Greece’s aid package, now we’ve heard from all the main German political parties:
We’re not talking about new billions for Greece, we’re not talking about any changes to this programme – rather it’s about providing or granting extra time to successfully end this programme.
Schneider: At some point we will have to debate about a new programme for Greece but this is not a matter for today, just the extension
This conflict is about the interests of a few super-rich people versus ordinary people in Greeks.
Brinkhaus also criticises the Greek government for inconsistency:
Brinkhaus: Not acceptable to sign something in Brussels and then go back to Athens and pretend something completely different has happened
“It’s really bad if someone leaves the [euro] project,” he concludes.
Brinkhaus says five countries received bailouts during the financial crisis, and regards four out of those five a success. Portugal said yesterday it would pay back its loans early.
This shows that it’s worth saying yes sometimes. And even with Greece things didn’t go too badly until December.
Angela Merkel is also in the chamber, sat alongside economy minister Sigmar Gabriel. He’s next to foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier:
Ralph Brinkhaus of the ruling CDU/CSU (conservatives) is next. He stresses that Greece’s problems were not caused by the troika but date back longer, and that Europe has been very generous in its help.
Hofreiter, of the Greens, says the litmus test is whether policies are helping ordinary Greeks. He adds that Greece should stay in Europe. If Greece regains some of its wealth there is a bigger chance it will repay its debts.
Hofreiter talks about the failure of Angela Merkel’s and Wolfgang Schäuble’s European policies. We need a European policy based on solidarity, he contends. He adds:
This conflict is about the interests of a few super-rich people versus ordinary people in Greeks.
Anton Hofreiter of the Greens is now speaking.
We support growth, help to self-help and more social justice. But it must be clear that those who who have earned a lot and have wealth in Greece must pay.
It’s now up the Greeks themselves, we are extending our hands to them.
Schneider: We are still paying for the mistake made by Papandreou when he offered a referendum in 2011
Greece is not paying interest on its debt any more, Schneider says. [That is true, because of the restructuring.] It is important for the Greeks to realise they can help themselves.
Schneider: The interest rates Greeks pay are lower than in France and Portugal and not much higher than in Germany
Schäuble said earlier that “it’s not easy to make this decision” (on the bailout extension). Schneider of the SPD says he feels similar.
The Bundestag debate is due to last 105 minutes, followed by a vote on the bailout extension until 30 June for Greece. It started on time at 8am GMT.
Carsten Schneider of the SPD (Social Democrats) is next.
The Left party supports the four-month bailout extension for Greece to give the country “breathing space and the chance for a fresh start,” Gysi says, ending his statement.
Gysi of the German Left party contends:
We need a Marshall plan for southern Europe.
90% of the bailout money is going to French and German banks, Gysi says.
Here’s Bloomberg’s early take on Schäuble’s speech:
#Germany‘s Schäuble calls on lawmakers to vote for Greek extension. Says solidarity means everybody must make a contribution. (BBG)
#Schaeuble says new Greek program is not about ‘New Billions’; Current program payments won’t be made without German approval
Gregor Gysi, who heads up the parliamentary group of the Left party, is up next.
The newly elected left-wing government in Greece has called an end to cuts and austerity, he says. He describes it as a “kamikaze policy,” which led to high youth unemployment and recession. Syriza is the first government in Europe that has challenged neoliberal policies, he asserts.
With this kind of policy debts will never be repaid.
There is no logic. We must help rebuild Greece, so it can repay its debts.
France has implemented important structural reforms and Italy is on track to make good decisions, the German finance minister says. Greece within Europe cannot decide alone what the right path is. That concludes his statement. There is a lot of applause from MPs.
But, he says in a veiled dig at the new Greek government:
Solidarity doesn’t mean that you can blackmail each other.
Schäuble says Europe must stand together and makes an oblique reference to WWII. Applause from MPs.
We Germans must do everything to keep Europe together.
Schäuble says it will take Greece longer than other countries to win back the trust of financial markets. But he adds:
Greece has to do its bit. Solidarity has something to do with reliability.
Schäuble is explaining that Greece is simply being given more time to complete its bailout measures, and that it cannot change the terms unilaterally.
We are all democracies. Greece produced a clear vote [when it elected the Syriza government].
The Bundestag session has started. The finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, speaks first. He stresses that the four-month bailout extension is NOT about new billions of euros for Greece or changes to the bailout. Applause from German MPs
You can watch the Bundestag debate live here. It will start in a few minutes.
A large majority of Germans, across the political spectrum, doubt that Greece will implement its reform programme.
While the Bundestag is about to approve Greek loan extension, almost 3/4 of the Germans doubt reform implementation. pic.twitter.com/SBzhvj3gsU
Germany’s opposition Green party has also pledged to support Greece in today’s vote:
There was isolated violence in the Greek capital last night, for the first time since last month’s general election.
“Dozens of activists hurled petrol bombs and stones at police and set cars alight after the march.
About 450 far-left protesters took to the streets of Athens on Thursday to voice their anger.
@graemewearden No clashes. Police kept distance. Six bus stops vandalised, four broken store-bank fronts + 2 cars + 3 trash bins torched
Even Germany’s president Joachim Gauck has waded into the Greece debate and come out in support of the four-month bailout extension. (Like the Queen, the German president traditionally stays above the political fray).
Gauck,75, told radio station MDR: “The parliament is willing to take responsibility and is taking on the issue with great seriousness.”
Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of Greece’s debt crisis and other developments across the world economy, the financial markets, the eurozone and business.
Wolfgang Schäuble, the finance minister, told Merkel’s backbenchers that the new Greek government was manipulating eurozone largesse to “trample all over European solidarity”, Der Spiegel reported.
The Germans expect the Greeks, beneficiaries of a €240bn (£175bn) rescue, to be grateful. Instead they are seen to be impertinent. No sooner was the ink dry on the deal on Tuesday granting Athens a 17-week loan extension than its finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, upped the ante and demanded the massive debt burden be partly written off.
Extension gives Greece breathing space to hammer out a new reform programme with the troika, but 29 MPs from Angela Merkel’s party voted against the plan
The German parliament has backed the extension of the Greek bailout by four months with an overwhelming majority – the biggest yet of any Bundestag vote on measures to fight the European debt crisis.
But in a sign of growing scepticism over Greece’s financial aid package within Germany, 29 MPs from Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU bloc rebelled and voted against the plan.