There is an important difference between European and American appetites, in addition to those for fast foods: risk taking. “Investments in Start-Ups Pick Up Pace,” reports the New York Times after surveying the high-tech financing scene here in America. “Europe Struggles to Foster a Startup Culture,” reports the Wall Street Journal. It seems that in contrast with “multiple rounds of fund-raising [in the U.S.] in months, rather than years,” Europeans are “valuing prudence … and leisure time over flamboyant risk-taking.”
“Any time you’re raising over $8-12 million, you need to leave Europe,” says Peter Smith, who had to go to the West Coast to raise $30 million for his Blockchain, a bitcoin company that now processes transactions valued at $2 billion per month. Some observers put the top amount that European investors will risk on a startup at closer to $5 million, more than a little short of the $100 million billionaire investor-activist Carl Icahn just bet on ride-sharing Lyft’s ability to compete successfully with the much larger Uber. This unavailability of risk-taking capital was the loudest of the complaints I heard from fledgling German entrepreneurs at a meeting in Berlin.
As a consequence of these opposed attitudes towards risk-taking, says the Wall Street Journal, “policy makers in Europe are increasingly concerned about the lack of home-grown rivals to compete against dominant U.S. players like Google Inc. and Facebook Inc.” Add Amazon to the list. Some of that concern is mere techno-envy, some good old fashioned anti-Americanism. But some has a basis in three problems created for the EU by the business practices of the successful U.S. firms: taxes, privacy, and competitive tactics.
The tax issue is the easiest to understand. European nations, like America and other countries, need revenues with which to meet the promises they have made to their ageing populations. American companies, like those from other countries, want to minimize their tax liabilities – indeed, their boards are under a fiduciary obligation to do just that. In the process, they at times cut special deals, such as the one between Amazon and Luxembourg, the discovery of which is now generating dealmakers’ remorse. Jean-Claude Juncker, then serving as Luxembourg’s premier and now president of the European Commission, is a vigorous opponent of deals to meet the special needs of member states such as Great Britain, but he agreed to an arrangement that shifted Amazon’s profits from Europe to “an untaxed entity,” according to EC investigators.
In the case of taxation, when special breaks become a bit too special, politics overtakes the letter of the law. Amazon has now agreed to pay taxes where it earns profits, to state the matter in broad terms. Other American companies are bound to be pressured to follow suit, putting an end to a game of “find my taxable profits if you can,” one that should have brought to an end long ago by a simple reform – a tax on sales in the countries in which the sales are made.
Friday morning, David Cameron returned to Downing Street as Britain's prime minister. After a campaign of unsurpassed tedium, the General Election came alive last night with the first exit poll, and a Conservative victory out of nowhere. For weeks, the incumbent Conservatives and the Labour opposition had been neck and neck.
Friday marks the seventieth anniversary of Victory in Europe, or V-E, Day, when the Allies accepted Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender after six long years of war. No one should have savored that day in 1945 more than Winston Churchill, the wartime British prime minister.
Springtime in the Mediterranean: The skies are clear, the waters are calm, and the migrants are drowning. In 2014, the U.S. Border Patrol estimated that 307 people died while being smuggled into the United States from Mexico. So far this year, more than 1,650 people have drowned as they attempted to cross Europe’s most porous and dangerous border, the Mediterranean. In 2014, the Border Patrol “rescued” 509 migrants along the Mexican border.
As reported by the Austrian daily Der Standard, some fifty Bosnian soccer fans broke into a chant of “Kill, kill the Jews!” during a pro-Palestinian rally in Vienna’s central Saint Stephan’s Square last week. The incident appears to have occurred on Tuesday, when the Bosnian national team was in town for a match against the Austrian team.
The question as to why Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot of Germanwings flight 9525 would intentionally bring about the crash of the plane is at the source of much of the perplexity surrounding the Germanwings tragedy. Even if we suppose that Lubitz was suicidal, it is obviously one thing to commit suicide and another to do so in such a way as to cause the death of 149 other people as well.
An Iranian journalist writing about the nuclear negotiations between the United States and Iran has defected. In an interview Amir Hossein Motaghi, has some harsh words for his native Iran. He also has a damning indictment of America's role in the nuclear negotiations.
Until Hillary Clinton decided to destroy 33,000 allegedly personal e-mails, all was quiet on the document-retention front in her selected home State of New York. Governor Andrew Cuomo was quite happy with the secrecy provided by his own refusal to send written memos or e-mails, and the practice followed by his staff and state agencies (at his insistence) of destroying e-mails older than 90 days. No footprints. Which is the way the famously secretive Cuomo likes it.
Seventy years ago, on March 1, 1945, Franklin Roosevelt assured a war-weary nation that a new era of international peace and democratic government was at hand. The accords signed just weeks earlier at the Yalta Conference, he told Congress, laid the foundation for postwar cooperation between the Soviet Union and the democratic West.
Vice President Biden spent about a day and a half in Belgium in early February to meet with various European leaders, but his entourage, security team and other delegation members required up to 209 rooms for up to three weeks surrounding the visit.
If you ignore the cringe-worthy opening line of this article from the Pew Research Center – the Holocaust did far worse than “decimate” Europe’s Jewish population – you will find some interesting facts. In a nutshell, Europe’s Jewish population continues to decline. There are now approximately 1.4 million Jews living in Europe, compared to 9.5 million in 1939. Only 10 percent of the world’s Jews now live in Europe, and a mere 0.2 percent of Europeans are Jewish.