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Business

Green Leader Defends Capitalism

In the debate over capitalism that has sprung up in Germany, the parliamentary floor leader of the environmentalist Green party, not known for its extremely business-friendly stance, has stepped in to defend corporate interests from excessive criticism. "Companies have to be able to make profits, otherwise there won't be any jobs," Katrin Göring-Eckardt told the Berliner Zeitung newspaper. She said most firms in Germany do take on societal responsibilities and that by setting up factories in low-wage countries like eastern Europe, companies are often securing existing jobs in Germany. The debate about unbridled capitalism was ignited two weeks ago by Franz Müntefering, head of the Social Democrats, who described private equity investors as "swarms of locusts" descending on Germany intent on sacking workers and making quick profits. On May 1, trade union leaders echoed those sentiments at rallies across the country. Over the weekend, Müntefering drew up a "locust list" of 12 corporate leaders he said were a scourge on the country. That drew a furious response from industry leaders. The head of the BDA employers' association, Dieter Hundt, told German public television: "What is going on in this country at the moment makes me puke."

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