Coca-Cola Chief backs Germany
Tuesday, December 13, 2011 3:14 AM
If only Coca-Cola were a healthy drink. (See below.) I love it, but my nutritionist tells me it has no food value. Chancellor Schröder did another good thing, not mentioned by the Coke chief. Schröder did not swallow the Bush/Cheney lies about Iraq’s WMD. He kept Germany out of the Iraq war.
Coke chief backs Germany to rescue Europe
The Financial Times, December 12th, 2001
Muhtar Kent, chief executive of Coca-Cola, called Germany the only “sane” economy in Europe and predicted that it would lead the continent out of its sovereign debt crisis because of aggressive reforms made in 2004 that peeled back the German welfare state.
“The reason Germany is the only sane place in Europe today is because of what Gerhard Schröder did in Germany back in 2004,“ Mr Kent said at Beverage Digest’s conference on Monday. “He cleared the mist, changed labour laws, went against the unions at that time and created really good incentives for small and medium-sized enterprises.”
Germany’s reforms were known as “Agenda 2010” and consisted of controversial policies that relaxed rules protecting workers from job cuts, pared unemployment benefits, raised the retirement age, and created incentives for small business investment.
Mr Kent said that although those moves cost Mr Schröder his job, they marked the most effective era in recent German history. “The small companies in Germany are making things that go into things that go into things, and people want those things,” Mr Kent said.
In spite of the problems facing Europe, Mr Kent said the economies of the UK, Germany and Scandinavia remain relatively strong, while Spain, Italy and Greece are “less shiny”. He predicted a “protracted” recovery but suggested the eurozone would remain intact.
“I think the fiscal compact is going to produce some more ammunition for the European Central Bank, and it will hold together,” he said.
Mr Kent said Coca-Cola has grown in Europe during the first three quarters of the year and that the world’s largest soft drink company will keep up its investments and marketing there.
Mr Kent, who drew criticism earlier this year when he told the Financial Times that the US was becoming a less business-friendly environment than China, was more optimistic about the US economy on Monday. He said 2012 will be “less cloudy”, pointing to an improving housing market and the potential for more quantitative easing.
“I believe that no one should ever bet against the United States of America,” Mr Kent said. “We have the most enterprising and diverse population of any western nation and I know we’ll be the first to come out of this in the western world.”