Bank discloses exposure
Deutsche Bank said on Thursday it has 3.2 billion euros (US$4 billion) in exposure to government bonds and loans from Greece, Ireland and Italy, three countries struggling to get their finances in order, chief executive Josef Ackermann told shareholders at the group’s annual general assembly in Frankurt. It also had exposure of 500 billion euros to Greek government bonds and loans and another 200 million euros to such investments in Ireland, while it had no exposure to Spain and Portugal. Financial market fears of a European debt crisis have focused on the five countries because of their high deficits, debts or both, which has triggered an unprecedented crisis for the 11-year-old eurozone. According to figures from the Bank for International Settlements at the end of last month, German banks had exposure at the end of last year of US$45 billion to Greece, US$47.5 billion to Portugal and US$237 billion to Spain.
Quarter of economy untaxed
Nearly a quarter of the country’s economy goes untaxed, representing a loss to the state of 120 billion euros a year, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi disclosed on Thursday. “Twenty-two percent of the economy is not declared to tax authorities,” Berlusconi told a meeting of the OECD. He said tax evasion amounted to “at least 120 billion euros.” Stamping out tax evasion and the operation of an underground economy are among austerity measures valued at 24 billion euros unveiled this week by the Italian government as a means of reducing its public deficit.
Toyota sales surge
Japanese automaker Toyota yesterday said global sales surged 21.3 percent year-on-year last month, despite millions of safety recalls worldwide that have left it facing a series of lawsuits in the US. The Toyota group, which includes brands Daihatsu and Hino trucks, said it sold 671,921 vehicles last month, up from 554,034 a year earlier, spokesman Paul Nolasco said. The figure was lower than March sales of 876,126, however. The world’s largest automaker said global production jumped 53.8 percent to 667,495 units compared to a year ago, when the industry was in the grip of the financial crisis. Second-largest maker Honda Motor marked its 10th straight monthly increase of domestic sales, which rose 9.5 percent on-year. Third-largest Nissan saw global production rise 57 percent on-year to 319,673, what it called an all time record for April.
Germany warns Facebook
Germany’s national consumer-protection agency may take legal measures against Facebook if it finds that the social network’s new privacy controls do not meet German data-protection standards. Carola Elbrecht, head of digital projects at the VZBV agency, welcomed the changes to privacy settings announced by Facebook late on Wednesday, but expressed concern that users would still have to actively opt out of default settings making their data public. “This obligates the user, and that’s a transgression of German law,” Elbrecht said on Thursday. “We are currently examining the terms and condition of data storage and usage, and if it again does not comply with German data protection standards we will file for an injunction.” Germany has some of the toughest privacy laws in the world as a result of its experience with state surveillance systems put in place by the Nazis and the former East German Stasi secret police.