Deutsche Börse chief: The EU’s largest economy risked becoming a “developing country”

9:38 12.06.2024 •

Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s coalition has reacted with outrage to a rant from Germany’s stock exchange chief that savaged the government’s policies and said the EU’s largest economy risked becoming a “developing country”.

The speech by Deutsche Börse chief executive Theodor Weimer (photo), which has gone viral on social media, reflects growing frustration among business leaders with Scholz’s government, a fractious coalition of Social Democrats, Greens and liberals, as it struggles to boost the economy, notes ‘The Financial Times’, with a feeling of satisfaction, expressing the long-standing enmity between England and Germany.

They accuse it of not doing enough to deal with Germany’s woes, including a growing skills shortage, excessive bureaucracy, high energy prices and a heavy tax burden. Germany was the worst-performing major economy last year and the government has forecast that gross domestic product will only grow by 0.3 per cent in 2024.

A spokesman for Deutsche Börse described Weimer as a “man of clear words” who is “not known for putting lipstick on the pig”. He said the chief executive’s comments were “largely based on conversations with international investors”, and he had already expressed them publicly “on various occasions”.

A former Goldman Sachs banker and chief executive of HypoVereinsbank, Weimer said international investors found the Berlin government “stupid” — a view he said was shared by many of the country’s bosses — and were increasingly shunning Germany as a place to do business.

“Our image was never as bad as it is now,” he said.

Weimer, who is due to step down at Deutsche Börse by the end of the year, said international investment was only flowing into German companies because they were so undervalued. “We’ve become a junk shop,” he said.

He said he had held 18 meetings with Robert Habeck, the economy minister from the Green party, and “I can tell you: it’s an utter disaster”. The minister had started well, listened to business and done a few things right, he said, but “now the fundamentalists are coming through more and more”.

Weimer also criticised the government for, as he put it, “destroying” the country’s vital auto industry, pointing to the planned phaseout of petrol and diesel cars. Many critics of Germany’s auto-bosses have said that the car companies themselves are to blame for failing to invest enough in electric vehicles.

Weimer contrasted the situation in Germany with the attractiveness of the US, praising the way the Biden administration has provided billions in subsidies to clean technology providers under the Inflation Reduction Act.

A spokesman for Scholz declined to comment…


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