The current refugee crisis is immense. Estimates expect more than a million people to apply for asylum this year in the European Union; i.e. we are talking about 0.2% in terms of total population. This would suggest that the immigration can be handled if all the countries cooperate.
Volkswagen: the largest German car manufacturer. The Porsches: the wealthiest family of Austria. Ferdinand Porsche, the engineering genius who would build the cars that ultimately dominated the German autobahn after Hitler’s war. VW is a part of (industrial) history.
But recently, Volkswagen has also written a different sort of history: do you remember José Ignacio López de Arriortúa, who was accused of having misappropriated trade secrets when he left his post as Head of Purchasing with VW and took a position with GM, and who was also the eponym of the López effect? Do you remember the sex scandal where prostitutes had been paid for and flown in from Brazil by the company specifically to “convince” the shop stewards committee of the proposals put forth by management? Do you remember the takeover battle between Porsche and VW and the rollercoaster ride it caused on the stock exchange? Do you remember the headlines about the fight for power between the Supervisory Board president Piech and the CEO Winterkorn. A multi-billion euro company with hundreds of thousands of employees had been temporarily reduced to the pawn of two alpha males.
Interest rate decision by the Fed
Tomorrow, Thursday 17 September 2015, the federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) of the US central bank Fed will be taking an important decision. Is the Fed funds rate to be raised or not? The financial markets have accorded this decision a particularly important role. After all, the rate hike by the most important central bank in the world could cause the degree of instability on the financial market to continue rising.
Regardless of whether or not a rate hike materialises, the Fed will communicate that the interest rate cycle will only be set off very gradually. At the same time, the projection for the final level of the cycle will probably be taken down a bit. If the Fed managed to alleviate the worries of excessive rate hikes, a slight increase of the Fed funds rate on coming Thursday would not upset the financial markets in any sustainable fashion. However, the weakest segments in the emerging countries would come under pressure.
Earlier this year the president of the ECB said we would have to get used to elevated levels of volatility. And it is true, the market environment has changed. The years 2009 to 2014 were subject to an asset price reflation regime. High rates of return were coupled with low volatility. This relationship has now reversed. The asset classes are now pricing in the moderate recovery in the industrialised economies, with low expected return amid elevated fluctuation as a rule.