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GEAB N°76 (15 juin 2013) - Sommaire

Alerte second semestre 2013 – Crise systémique globale II : seconde déflagration dévastatrice / explosion sociale à l’échelle planétaire

Un choc de type Lehman en 2008, départ symbolique de l’incendie et surtout prise de conscience généralisée de la situation, n’a pas encore eu lieu. Ce n’est pas vraiment une bonne nouvelle car avec le temps la situation ne cesse de s’aggraver et ce n’est plus un choc auquel il faut se préparer mais une déflagration dévastatrice… (page 2)

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UE 2014-2015 : après les élections au Parlement européen, le bras de fer entre Parlement et Conseil européen favorise la montée de l’Euroland

L’architecture institutionnelle de l’UE a toujours été, depuis le début du processus d’intégration européenne, fondée sur le sable mouvant de la réalité politique. Si l’on ne fait que regarder un instant donné, on pourrait être amené à croire que la structure est solide, bien ancrée dans les traités européens. Mais la réalité est tout autre… (page 11)

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Le monde en 2030 – Diversification / infrastructures / éducation : anticiper la capacité de rebond post-crise d’une économie

S’il est nécessaire d’avoir une vision des événements à court terme pour naviguer dans cette crise d’ampleur séculaire, il ne faut toutefois jamais perdre de vue le panorama général des transformations du monde, tel que nous le rappelons régulièrement dans le GEAB. C’est la raison pour laquelle il est important de ne pas oublier les tendances de fond qui façonnent une société sur le long terme, c’est-à-dire sur plusieurs décennies (20 à 30 ans)… (page 15)

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Gouvernance Mondiale – Le rapprochement Euro-BRICS au service de la mise à niveau du système ou comme matrice d’un nouveau modèle ? Les institutions de la gouvernance globale théoriquement en charge de gérer la crise qui affecte la planète depuis maintenant 5 ans sont-elles structurellement capables d’engager les réformes nécessaires pour créer les conditions d’une amélioration de leur efficience ?… (page 27)

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Recommandations opérationnelles et stratégiques

Cash / pétrole / bourse / obligations… (page 30)

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Le GlobalEurometre - Résultats & Analyses

Le questionnaire de ce mois reflète une inquiétude élevée mais plutôt constante quant aux indicateurs économiques, à l’exception notable près du risque de faillites bancaires qui se précise à nouveau… (page 33)

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Parmalat scandal is a wake-up call for European corporate governance
by Tim Rogmans
04/04/2004


So far 29 executives of Parmalat and its banks and auditors have been charged in what is certainly Europe’s largest financial scandal ever. Profits have been overstated, fictitious bank accounts with billions of euros were created and perhaps € 1bn of investors’ money was siphoned off for personal use by Calisto Tanzi (Parmalat’s founder) and his friends and family.

For many Europeans, corporate scandals were supposed to be American affairs. It was the American sense of greed that encouraged executives at Enron, Tyco and WorldCom to over-expand, misstate the financial results of the company and blur the line between company money and one’s own wallet.

Even when European corporate scandals came in the news, the misdeeds often related to the American activities of a European multinational, as with for example Ahold or Vivendi. These companies were sometimes stressing how much they have become American rather than European, so no wonder they are the ones who are scandalised, the argument went.

Parmalat changed all that. The fraudulent behaviour at Parmalat was so large, so widespread and went on for so long, that you may wonder why it has taken until now to be discovered. Time should tell whether the relative rarity of large corporate scandals in Europe compared to the United States is the result of better corporate governance in Europe or due to the absence of a vigorous prosecution. The fact that Italy has introduced a new law to improve the country’s financial markets regulation is a positive step, but also a signal that Parmalat is not an isolated case.

Parmalat also shows that family ownership of a quoted company is a double-edged sword. American research shows that companies with a dominant family ownership perform better than average. However, it is among family controlled companies that the temptation is greatest to use company money for personal goals. Parmalat’s chief used to fly his whole family over on a private jet to visit acquisition targets. That is why investors are now wary of complicated holding structures designed to give founding families an influence that is disproportionate to the stake they have left in the company. These opaque structures are still relatively common in Europe and are only now beginning to be simplified. (Still, even professional CEOs like Tyco’s Kozlowski can fall for the temptation to use the company chequebook, as he did when he flew friends and associates over to Sardinia for his wife’s extravagant birthday party.)

There are also distinctly European and American ways of dealing with the consequences of corporate malpractice. Typically, when investors in American companies have lost due to a corporate scandal or fraud, then the investors pay the bill. They are the ones who have been unlucky or unwise enough to make a bad investment. Hopefully other investments will turn out better. In Europe, the instinct of national governments is to jump in to try to ‘save’ the company, at the expense of taxpayers and the competitors of the demised company. Fortunately, the European Commission has demonstrated its value in monitoring and sanctioning illegal state aid. This action is critical to show to all investors that they can not get a free ride by investing in companies that engage in risky expansion or who don’t play by the rules.

Parmalat was another European company that relied on contacts with banks and government administrations to expand and to hide the truth. However, scandals like Parmalat and a vigilant European Commission are encouraging fund managers to look more at a company’s corporate governance than at its government contacts, before placing their money.



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