The Ultimate Bailout Machine
As governments around the world study ways to save tanking car manufacturers, it appears the nation known for fine automobiles has engineered the best solution to the car crisis to date.
According to Der Spiegel, "Included in Germany's €50 billion ($64 billion) stimulus package, which finally cleared the last legislative hurdle last week, is the so-called "scrapping bonus." The measure hands Germans €2,500 to junk their old cars -- provided they immediately buy a new one."
"As a result, a number of German brands have experienced record sales so far in 2009. Volkswagen expects February sales to reach 120,000 cars, more than ever before. Opel, which is struggling to survive as its parent company GM sinks further into economic woes, experienced its best month in five years this February, selling 40,000 cars. And the Romanian auto manufacturer Dacia has even had to boost production lately to keep up with high demand in Germany," Der Spiegel reports.
"There has never been a state promotion that has had such a positive effect as the scrapping bonus," Robert Rademacher, president of the German Association for Motor Trade and Repairs, told Motor und Sport this week.
This plan is remarkably similar to an idea floated by the Brookings Institution last month, and it's something the U.S. should adopt immediately. What Der Spiegel article doesn't mention is the positive environmental impact of getting junkers off the streets.
Still, it is unclear whether the measure can provide long term help to larger, more expensive cars. "Signature brands such as Mercedes, Porsche, BMW and Audi are all suffering," Der Spiegel reports. Sales of high-end sedans plummeted by 48 percent in January relative to the same month a year before. "Because of higher profit margins on such models, the downturn is doubly dangerous."
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The history of the Geneva Conventions tells us how the international community draws the line on brutality.
- Henry Dunant's work led to the Red Cross and conventions on treating prisoners humanely.
- Four Geneva Conventions defined the rules for prisoners of war, torture, naval and medical personnel and more.
- Amendments to the agreements reflect the modern world but have not been ratified by all countries.
Meanwhile, Spaniards are the least likely to say their culture is superior to others.
- Survey by Pew Research Center shows great variation in chauvinism across Europe.
- Eight most chauvinist countries are in the east, and include Russia.
- British much more likely than French (and slightly more likely than Germans) to say their culture is "superior" to others.
Air pollution is up to five times over the EU limit in these Central London hotspots.
- Dirty air is an invisible killer, but an effective one.
- More than 9,000 people die prematurely in London each year due to air pollution, a recent study estimates.
- This map visualizes the worst places to breathe in Central London.
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