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Business Briefs

IMF says Germany is at risk of deflation, experts gather in Bonn to discuss competition policy, some of the world's biggest companies are on trial in NYC and G8 finance ministers meet in France.


German Labor and Economics Minister Wolfgang Clement may have to work miracles if deflation occurs.

Germany at risk of deflation: IMF

The German economy is in “considerable danger” of sinking into a deflationary spiral, according to a new study by the International Monetary fund. According to the IMF, if growth in Europe's largest economy continues to slow as experts now fear and it sinks into recession, the deflation risk will be even higher. With a stagnating economy, rising unemployment and a banking sector under strain, the organization added that Germany would have limited options to fight deflation if it occurred.

International experts advise on competition policy

Around 300 competition experts from 50 countries met in the former German capital Bonn on Monday to discuss the country's business competition policy. Germany's Federal Cartel office invited the experts for the conference -- which takes place every two years and is the most important of its kind -- to discuss the challenges globalisation and economic liberalization place on international competition policy and cartel law.

Apartheid trial targeting world's biggest companies gets underway

Three of Germany's biggest banks and two of its biggest car companies are among 31 international companies in the hot seat as a trial against firms doing business in South Africa during the Apartheid regime gets underway in New York Monday. The trial accuses Commerzbank, Dresdner Bank, Deutsche Bank, Volkswagen, DaimlerChrysler and 29 additional companies of "aiding and abetting" Apartheid by conducting business in the segregated country. Specifically, the lawsuit claims the companies, including French and British banks, profited from the Apartheid regime by providing high-interest loans to the South African government. The suit, filed under the U.S. Alien Tort Claims Act, seeks compensation for victims of the regime. Heading the legal team that filed the suit is lawyer Ed Fagan, who won a $1.25 billion settlement from Swiss banks for families of Holocaust victims.

Finance Ministers meet

The finance ministers of the world's leading economies met in France on Monday ahead of a G8 summit in Evian at the beginning of June. Reforming the world economy to achieve more flexibility and economic growth topped the agenda at the meetings over the weekend. The ministers from Germany, France, the U.S., Italy, the U.K., Japan, Russia and Canada said that following the end of the Iraq war and the receding threat of SARS, challenges remained in the worldwide economy. U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow praised reform programs in France and Germany and said tax cuts currently passing through the U.S. Congress would increase growth in the United States. The world economy has been battling close to zero growth rates in some of its biggest economic regions, including Europe and Japan.