Some of this week’s business news.
Ireland is no longer the only Eurozone economy in recession. Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, has now entered recession. Germany’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) fell by 0.5% in the last quarter. A recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth. Germany was last in recession in 1996.
Following the election of Barack Obama as President, there is some optimism that he can turn around the US economy. This table shows how the US economy has performed under past US Presidents in terms of stock market performance, inflation, GDP growth and budget deficits.
Wonder how will Obama do?
Ryanair has been in the news again.
The Sunday Business Post reports that Ryanair could face large fines if it fails to provide a contact e-mail address on its website. The ruling by the European Court of Justice could see Ryanair pay up to €100,000 under the EU’s E-commerce Directive, which requires company websites to include an e-mail address and an alternative way for consumers to contact the company. The ruling said a company must offer customers what it described as “a rapid, direct and effective means of communication, in addition to its electronic mail address”. At present, Ryanair offers its customers a telephone line, which is only available from 9am to 5.45pm, Monday to Friday.
Staying with Europe, the European Commission has imposed the biggest fine in history on four companies for operating a cartel. A cartel is where firms come together to fix prices or divide up the market between them to restrict competition.
The European Commission imposed a record fine of almost €1.4 billion on four car glass manufacturers for operating a cartel and sharing commercial secrets for five years.
The penalty included the heaviest punishment inflicted on a single company: Saint-Gobain, of France, has been ordered to pay €896 million.
Fines were imposed on Pilkington, of Britain (€370 million), Asahi/AGC, of Japan (€113.5 million), and Soliver, of Belgium (€4.4 million).
The four were found guilty by European anti-trust regulators of running a cartel between early 1998 and 2003 by discussing target prices, market-sharing and customer allocations. They agreed these during secret meetings in hotels and airports.