Zuverlässigkeitsprüfungsverfahren

Reliability verification procedure.

This month the responsible federal bureaux apparently stopped processing Sig Sauer’s applications for weapons export permits while investigations continue into how Sig’s guns were found in Colombia and Kazakhstan despite export permits that said “United States.”

(Tsoo fair LESS ichh kites PROO foongz fair FAR en.)

Autovervollständigungsfalle

The “autocomplete trap.”

Goldman Sachs is suing Google to force deletion of an email containing confidential customer information that Goldman’s contractor’s employee accidentally sent to a gmail account. Goldman also wants to know who has had access to the information in the email.

(Ow! toe fair FOAL shtenned ee goongs FALL ah.)

Bundestagsabgeordnetendiäten

“Bundestag members’ diets,” but apparently this means their pay. In February 2014 the Bundestag discussed reforms to raise its members’ remuneration, changing it “to about that of a federal judge, with regular pay raises thereafter,” said ARD tagesschau.de. Their last raise was in 2013.

Update on 11 Feb 2014: Leftists and Green party members criticized the grosse Koalition’s plan to give Bundestag members a ~10% pay raise by the end of 2014, calling it “masslos und überzogen,” immoderate/self-indulgent/exorbitant and excessive. Gregor Gysi (Leftists) said it did not match or fit current trends in wages, pensions, and social welfare payments. At 19% of the Bundestag, the opposition will be unable to stop the bill, which looks like it will be proposed and passed in about one week.

The regular pay raises after the 10% bolus are to be linked to trends in the labor market, said the C.D.U./C.S.U. and S.P.D. proponents. Süddeutsche said this includes matching downward trends in German workers’ pay too, though those rarely happen.

The plan is to raise Bundestag members’ monthly salary from 8252 to 8667 euros on 01 Jul 2014 and then to 9082 euros on 01 Jan 2015.

Masslos überzogen,” immoderately/self-indulgently/exorbitantly excessive, is what ZDF heute journal said the new interior minister Thomas de Maizière (C.D.U.) called the government workers’ unions’ concurrent negotiation demands for a pay raise of 3.5% and 100 euros more per month (ca. 7% total) for federal and county public sector employees, about 2.1 million people in Germany.

Update on 21 Feb 2014: The Bundestag passed its pay raise to itself. 115 no’s, 10 absentions. A C.D.U./C.S.U. politician arguing for the pay raise said it was “courageous.” Green party member Hans-Christian Ströbele said the haste with which the supermajority grosse Koalition whipped the pay raise through was an indication of their guilty conscience about it.

Update on 28 Jun 2014: It’s become known that Bundespräsident Gauck is not signing the Bundestag’s pay raise to itself yet. He said his jurists are still examining some questionable points in the changes. The Bundespräsident’s signature is the last hurdle before a new law can go into effect, but the signature can only be delayed or refused if there are constitutionality questions.

Update on 29 Jun 2014: A taz.de op-ed cited a 1975 decision by Germany’s supreme Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe that Bundestag members’ pay should not be linked to civil service pay [Beamtenbesoldung] and their pay raises should have to be approved publicly, i.e. in the plenum of the Bundestag. The process for giving themselves raises should be “transparent for the burghers and decided before the eyes of the public.”

Update on 11 Jul 2014: Bundespräsident Gauck signed the Bundestag raise package, including the automatic raises to come. The 01 July 2014 raise will be implemented retroactively.

(BOON dess tochhs ob geh ORD net en dee ATE en.)

Fortsetzungsfeststellungsklage

“Continuation determination complaint.”

A complaint before a German administrative court, financial court or social court asking the court to declare that an administrative act that was performed by an organ of the government was not lawful.

On 01 Jun 2013 police in Frankfurt used clubs and pepper spray to force their way into a permitted march of 10,000 demonstrators and kettle 1000 of them for about ten hours. The then-Hessian interior minister* defended the action by saying those particular protesters’ masks and passive weapons looked threatening.

Individual protesters’ Fortsetzungsfeststellungklagen asking to find that the police’s banning them from being where the protest was [Platzverweis] was illegal are being heard by the Frankfurt Administrative Court [Verwaltungsgericht], while individual protesters’ lawsuits asking the court to find that the police’s kettling act was illegal are being heard by the Frankfurt District Court [Amtsgericht]. Many criminal proceedings against the demonstrators are still ongoing.

* Now Boris Rhein (C.D.U.) is in charge of Hesse’s universities, as the Hessian State Minister for Science and the Arts.

(FOTT zets oongs FEST shtell oongs CLAW gah.)

Das bäuerliche Flughöhenbarometer

The farmer’s flight height barometer, from the trove of German “farmer wisdom.”

Some beautifully acrobatic birds that summer in Germany feed on flying insects that stay near the ground in low pressure systems but may venture much higher in warm rising air. Watching the birds swoop and spin to catch them can thus tell you about the weather.

(Doss   BOY ah lichh ah   FLOOG hə en bah roh MAY tah.)

Begabtenförderungswerke

Foundations for providing scholarship money to “gifted” students.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine said in addition to the Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes [Studies Foundation of the German People], there are 12 smaller foundations in Germany that also provide scholarships to “gifted” students. The twelve are anchored in core society groups such as the political parties, religions, labor unions and employers. The smaller foundations receive some or all of this scholarship money from the federal Education Ministry and pass it on to the students they select, after taking 14% for administrative costs.

1% of German university students receive money from these groups, nearly 26,000 students in 2013.

In the past, the gifted scholarships consisted of a need-based monthly allowance, calculated using Bafög data, plus a monthly supplement called “books money” [Büchergeld] that has now been renamed [Studienkostenpauschale, “study expenses grant”] after it was announced in February that it would be increased to 300 euros/month effective September 2014.

A similar merit-based scholarship of 300 euros/month—150 from the Education Ministry, 150 from a sponsor— that was seen as competition to the books money is called the Deutschlandstipendium, Germany Scholarship, available to any German university and to qualifying students from any nationality.

(Beh GOB ten fir-r-r dare oongs verk ah.)

Schaumstoffherstellerkartell

Foam manufacturers cartel.

The E.U. announced a fine of ~114 million euros for price fixing to several manufacturers of the polyurethane foam used in furniture and car seats. The fine was reduced for companies that provided information about the cartel.

The lion’s share of the foam fine, 75 million euros, will be paid by a U.S manufacturer, Carpenter Co., and the rest by Eurofoam (Austria) and Recticel (Belgium). Because Eurofoam is a joint venture of Recticel and another Austrian firm that does not make foam, the final accounting could get a bit complicated. Foam manufacturer Vita Cayman (Cayman Islands) will not be fined because they’re the ones who reported the cartel to authorities in Brussels.

The cartel manipulated sale prices in about ten E.U. countries, including Germany. Auto seats make up about a quarter of the industry’s sales, said the E.U.’s competition commissioner.

(Sh OW! m shtoff heah shtell ah caw TELL.)

Bundesverfassungsgerichtsreform

Reform of Germany’s supreme Constitutional Court.

In an interview given because he wanted to encourage more discussion about the European Union, Constitutional Court president Andreas Voßkuhle indicated there’s talk about reforming the Bundesverfassungsgericht. He said it wouldn’t be a problem if future German supreme court judges were to be elected not by a Bundestag committee, as they are now, but by the Bundestag plenum, as long as the condition is maintained that the candidates do not make statements. Questioning the judges before their election “would threaten to immoderately politicize the Court.” It appears a seat on the Bundesverfassungsgericht is for one term only, because Dr. Voßkuhle said enabling re-election of supreme court judges would be a “stab in the heart” to judicial independence.

(BOON dess fair FOSS oongs geh R-R-R-ICHHTS ray form.)

Gotthardbasistunnel

The Gotthard basis tunnel, being built under the famous Gotthard Pass through the Swiss Alps. They’re saying this new double tunnel for trains is the longest in the world, at 57 km. Wonderful ZDF heute journal report on the testing currently underway, showing how Swiss engineers are verifying human/computer interaction to control responses to a variety of simulated emergency situations. It’s not yet known whether the air each train pushes in front of it and pulls behind it will be enough ventilation for all 57 kilometers.

Passenger trains are to travel through the new tunnel at up to 250 km/h. Accelerating inside the tunnel would cost a lot of energy because of the column of air; the F.A.Z. said the trains will “thunder into” the tunnel entrances.

(GOTT haht BOZZ iss TOON ell.)

Brennelementesteuer

A tax on the radioactive fuel elements used in nuclear reactors. Germany’s federal government created this tax in 2011 (the relevant law is called the, ahem, Kernbrennstoffsteuergesetz). Apparently the fuel rods tax has had a deterrent effect on the operation of nuclear power plants, while bringing in billions in revenue. Some utilities have challenged the tax in court.

Two lawsuits are pending before the Munich Financial Court. A court in Baden-Württemberg found that the fuel rods tax was okay. Relevant cases are also going to be heard by the German Constitutional Court and the European Court of Justice.

The Hamburg Financial Court referred the question of whether the fuel rods tax is “even permissible” to the European Court of Justice in November 2013. That court could take more than a year to issue a decision.

After the Hamburg Financial Court had referred the larger question to the higher instance, it then decided this week, in response to accelerated petitions from the utilities, that the utilities could be temporarily freed from paying the fuel rod tax and that the German treasury should temporarily return 2.2 billion euros of paid tax to the utilities pending the higher courts’ decisions. The court said the government could appeal though, and if the government appeals within one month they would be temporarily freed from having to make the return payment.

(Bren ell em EN tah shtoy ah.)

(CAIRN bren shtoff SHTOY ah gez ETTS.)

Transportmonopolstellung

Transport monopoly.

ProPublica.org puzzled out more information on how a company named Chesapeake Energy managed to reduce its payments to rural landowners from whom it was leasing fracking rights. One Pennsylvanian farmer saw his monthly check go down from ~$5000 to ~$500 for the same volume of gas, for example.

While there are federal laws to prevent gouging on interstate gas pipelines, this did not apply to the small feed lines Chesapeake built in rural areas which were the only ways for many landowners’ fracked gas to get to market.

In 2011, when Chesapeake Energy needed cash, they essentially created a pipeline company with those rural gas pipelines and sold it to a competitor oil firm for ~$5 billion, with the promise that Chesapeake would continue to hire its old pipelines to transport a lot of gas for the next decade and would pay the new company, Access Midstream, enough in fees to cover the ~$5 billion sale price plus 15% for their pains.

“That much profit was possible only if Access charged Chesapeake significantly more for its services,” said ProPublica. The extra costs were billed to the landowners as expenses.

“An executive at a rival company who reviewed the deal at ProPublica’s request said it looked like Chesapeake had found a way to make the landowners pay the principal and interest on what amounts to a multi-billion loan to the company from Access Midstream.”

(Tronz POAH t mon oh POLE shtell oong.)

Riesenzinkenlangzahnelefantose, Blödzillus seidoofus giganticus (Erreger der ansteckenden Blödheit)

Giantlongtoothelefantosis, Nonsensicus ridiculosum giganticus (a microbe that spreads contagious malarkey).

Cap’n Bluebear told his grandchildren bears the Nonsensicus germ is so full of malarkey it hurts. Which is good, because otherwise more people would catch it. Best possible cure: doing homework.

(R-r-ree zen tsink en long tsahn ella fawn TOE zah,   blid ZILL ooss   zeye D’OH! fooss   ghee GONE teak ooss,   err AE gare   dare   on SHTECK en den   BLID height.)

Verrechnungspreismissbrauch

Transfer pricing tax evasion.

Under international finance rules that allowed corporations to assign profits earned by subsidiaries in countries with taxes to subsidiaries in countries without taxes, an online documentary explained, commodities companies could avoid taxes in source countries by having their extracting subsidiary sell the commodity to subsidiaries abroad at prices that did not reflect market prices, moving around on-paper profits and on-paper losses. The tactic is called transfer pricing. Rules supposed to prevent it required among other things that divisions of the same organization deal with each other “at arm’s length,” as if they were not part of the same organization.

Profits from this and other paper shuffles can apparently show up decades later and inflict serious fiscal damage on countries, even countries with the resources to give government auditors enough training to stand up to international corporations’ negotiators. In 2013 Rupert Murdoch’s giant News Corp. appears to have received the “largest cash payout from the Australian Tax Office ever,” a rebate of US$800 million for some on-paper loans to itself made in 1989. The money showed up in News Corp’s U.S. subsidiary’s Q4 2013 accounts as a US$800 million payment from “a foreign tax authority.” The original deduction was estimated by the Australian Financial Review at AU$600 million, but it was decided that News Corp was owed additional interest on it of almost AU$300 million.

The huge payment is being described as a substantial inconvenience or “blowout” to the current Australian federal budget. Last summer then-Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd accused News Corp companies in Australia of running a “ferocious” media campaign against his government, including accusing the Labour government of overspending. Kevin Rudd lost the Australian election to Tony Abbott on 07 Sep 2013.

This is how the tax deduction happened, according to an online 17 Feb 2014 article from the Australian Financial Review:

“In a 1989 meeting, four News Corp Australia executives exchanged cheques and share transfers between local and overseas subsidiaries that moved through several currencies.

“They were paper transactions; no funds actually moved. In 2000 and 2001 the loans were unwound. With the Australian dollar riding high, News Corp’s Australian subsidiaries recorded a $2 billion loss, while other subsidiaries in tax havens recorded a $2 billion gain.

“By last July that paper “loss”, booked against News Corp’s Australian newspaper operations, had become an [A]$882 million cash payout.

“Under a legal arrangement when the company was spun off last June, News was forced to pass all of the tax payout to Mr Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox.

“News Corp said it had retained $A81 million because it faced income tax charges on the interest payments by the Tax Office. However it seems unlikely to actually pay these funds: News Corp Australia carried another $1.5 billion in tax deductions from a separate paper shuffle that it made when News reincorporated in the US.”

(Fair ECHH noongs price mis BROW chh.)

Verbandsklagerecht der Verbraucherschutzorganisationen

Right for an association to file suit, for consumer protection organizations.

The new justice minister and consumer protection boss, Heiko Maas (S.P.D.), said he is thinking about making it possible for consumer protection organizations to file lawsuits on behalf of consumers in response to data protection violations.

Currently, consumer protection organizations in Germany can only file data protection lawsuits if a company’s terms and conditions contain data protection violations. Mr. Maas wants to have draft legislation “closing this loophole” ready by the end of April 2014.

The Spiegel.de article continued,

Maas and Germany’s data protection officer Andrea Voßhoff [(C.D.U.)] furthermore admonished companies to treat their customers’ privacy with more respect. Customers’ trust is, in the end, the fundamental basis of all business models in the internet, they said. Instead of pages and pages of terms and conditions, what [customers] need is true freedom of choice when it comes to what’s allowed to happen to their own data, said Maas. “If some providers want to stubbornly persist in the digital Flegeljahren [boor, churl, cub, lout years, meaning teenagers], if they disesteem/disregard/disdain/ignore/flout/violate their customers, and if they refuse transparency, then the state will have to intervene regulatorily to protect users.”

(Fair BOND sklah geh rechh t   dare   fair BROW chh ah SHƏTS oregon ee zot see OWN en.)

Vorabentscheidungsverfahren

“Advance decision process.”

For the first time ever, Germany’s supreme court, the Bundesverfassungsgericht in Karlsruhe, sent a case on to the European Union’s supreme court, the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. It was for a “decision in advance” on a lawsuit brought in Germany by members of the C.S.U. and Leftists political parties together with other groups, about whether the policy of the European Central Bank announced by Mario Draghi (Goldman Sachs) of buying theoretically unlimited amounts of debt from Member States would be exceeding the Bank’s current brief by redistributing money to countries that hadn’t cleaned up their governments yet. It’s also feared if left unlimited the policy might put the E.C.B. in the hazardous position of becoming a “bad bank” on behalf of the banks in the troubled countries whose debt it was buying.

Süddeutsche.de reported that this sort of debt purchasing, which a government must promise to cut costs and carry out structural reforms in order to receive, has never occurred, but the announcement that it was possible calmed the markets in 2012. Spiegel.de made it sound more like the structural reforms and cost cutting were linked to aid from the Euro-Rettungsschirm, the “euro rescue umbrella” bailout programs, but repeated that the E.C.B. has never carried out any of these so-called Outright Monetary Transactions.

After the Bundesverfassungsgericht receives the decision of the European Court of Justice on these questions, said the Spiegel.de article, it will then decide its own case. And here are four ways the Bundesverfassungsgericht said in its 52-page submission that the European Court of Justice might deal with the Bundesverfassungsgericht’s concerns:

  • “The bond purchases should not undermine the policies of the bailout funds [Rettungsschirme] which link loans to clear conditions such as savings programs and reform programs.”
  • “The E.C.B. would have to rule out the possibility of a debt haircut [Schuldenschnitt] for the purchased bonds, because in the end a haircut would mean financing of the country.”
  • “Individual Member States’ bonds may not be bought in unlimited amounts.”
  • “The E.C.B. should influence so-called pricing [Preisbildung] as little as possible by buying bonds shortly after their emission by the States.” Apparently the E.C.B. previously agreed to limit O.M.T.’s in this way to some degree by agreeing to not buy bonds immediately after emission and to follow purchasing time frames that will be defined in a guideline that will not be made public.

(Fore OB ent SHY doongs fair FAR en.)

Verschleierte Vermögensverwaltungsverträge

Veiled wealth management contracts.

270 tax police searched about 40 Commerzbank branches at their Frankfurt headquarters and elsewhere on 03 Dec 2013 seeking information about Italian partners who had advised the bank’s customers on how to avoid taxes using what only looked like tax-exempted life insurance, according to Bochum prosecutors who executed the razzia with Düsseldorf tax officials.

ZDF heute journal’s finance correspondent Valerie Haller said assets such as stock or bonds in “depots” at the bank that should have been subject to capital gains tax were instead “wrapped in fake life insurance” by the friendly insurer. The long (12-year) period of the fake life insurance instruments conveniently allowed some tax evasion statutes of limitations to expire. Unlike real life insurance, these instruments let customers continue investing the money wherever they chose while avoiding significant tax and remaining rather anonymous. Real life insurance that qualifies for German tax breaks must also insure against a risk (the death of the insuree), according to a German law passed in 2009 to tighten up these loopholes. After the 2009 law, said a 2012 S.Z. article, such life insurances bought by Germans had to be reported immediately to the Bundesfinanzministerium [Federal Finance Ministry] when bought in Germany, but when bought outside the country the sellers were only obligated to report them to the German government when the policies were paid out.

The Italians are rumored to have been working for an Italian insurance company called Generali, though that has not been confirmed. Handelsblatt.com heard it was Generali subsidiary PanEurope Ltd., headquartered in Ireland, and added that the scheme had a minimum deposit requirement of half a million euros but prosecutors thought this one had been used to avoid taxation on several hundred million. Reporting on a similar investigation in 2012 of German insurance customers at the Swiss bank Crédit Suisse, Süddeutsche.de said English names for the scheme included “insurance wrappers” and “private placement insurance.”

Commerzbank is only being called as a witness, the bank’s representatives said. They only managed das Depot, which translates as portfolio but has always sounded more like an armored box.

The Green party took advantage of the event to call once more for a German criminal code for companies, in addition to individual people, so that companies can be prosecuted for crimes.

(Fair SHLY ah teh   fair MƏG oongs fair VAULT oongs fair TRAY geh.)

Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbarenbartbarbierbierbar

The bar where the barber who trims the beards of the barbarians who frequent the bar of Barbara who’s famous for her rhubarb cake drinks his after-work beer.

(Ra BA ba BA bar ah ba BAR en baht ba BEER beer ba.)

Hochgeschwindigkeitshandel

“High-speed trading.” On 25 Sept. 2012 the German social democrat party SPD (the opposition to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU + FDP coalition) announced their new proposed financial platform of increasing banking regulation, splitting “universal” banks into a business bank and an investment bank, creating an FDIC-type emergency fund with the banks’ own money to save troubled banks, capping mortgage debt at 80% of the unit’s value and limiting high-speed stock trading. One day later, on 26 Sept., Germany’s financial minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) announced that the German government wants to limit high-speed stock trading.

ZDF heute journal said the government was now calling for the following: registration of high-speed traders, disclosure of computer code if a problem occurs and higher fees after too many “fake attacks” in which high-speed traders pretend to buy a stock in order to drive up the price, then rapidly cancel the larger purchase and sell what they were actually holding at the new higher price.

Respect for Wolfgang Schäuble’s quietly reasoned-sounding explanations. Simple, straightforward, highly credible-sounding. He does a great job with them. He’s also quite clever, distracting me from banking reregulation by seizing on this high-speed trading point.

According to tagesschau.de, Schäuble is calling for “mandatory licensing for high-speed traders. Transparency that enables the supervisory authority to identify abuses faster. And the ability for the stock market supervisory authority to, when bad developments are identified in the market, to immediately halt trading.” On 26 Sept. his political opponent in the SPD responded that this doesn’t go far enough and called not only for licensing of trading firms but also of trading algorithms. Germany’s Green Party said the simplest way to handle this would be to forbid high-speed trades, and furthermore that the government is limiting itself to too much of an observing, witness, role, rather than regulating. And the techie German Pirate Party said…?

(HOKE geh SHVIN dig kites hon dell.)

Bundesverfassungsgerichtsentscheidung, BVerfGE

Decision of the “Federal Constitutional Court,” the German equivalent, more or less, of the USA’s Supreme Court. The Court consists of two Senates and six chambers, each specializing in different fields. Each Senate currently consists of eight judges. The Bundesverfassungsgericht (BVerfG) is located in Karlsruhe and has a staff of about 120 people.

At 10 a.m. on Wed., 12 Sept. 2012, the eight members of the second Senate of the Bundesverfassungsgericht will announce their decision on a challenge raised to Germany’s participation in the ESM, the European Stability Mechanism, an entity with 700 billion euros in capital but whose total potential financial assistance to troubled eurozone countries is capped at 500 billion euros. The Bundesverfassungsgericht scheduled an unusually long time period to deliberate the ESM challenge—eight weeks—and in the meantime last week the ESM’s importance was somewhat diminished by the European Central Bank’s announcement that it will buy an unlimited amount of state debt from troubled eurozone countries.

It is assumed that the Bundesverfassungsgericht will not overturn participation in the ESM but may define interesting conditions. For example, according to Der Spiegel, conditions for receiving aid from the ESM have not yet been defined. Do eurozone countries have an ESM veto right? What will be the interplay between the ECB and the ESM? The conditions for receiving money from the ECB are said to be rather loose right now.

(BOON dess fer FOSS oongs ger ICKTS ent SHY doong.)

Alkalikieselsäurereaktion

The “alkali-silica reaction” causing miles of road construction every summer. The source of a de facto speed limit on the autobahn, this is a materials issue wherein silica (Kieselsäure, lit. “gravel acid”) reacts with cement to form a gel bubble that pushes up to the driving surface, making it as soft as sand. The ingredients in new autobahns are said to be no longer susceptible to this but old ones are crumbling. Much research has been done over the years into ways to slow down Betonkrebs without replacing too much road. Sprays tested have included epoxy resin, boiled linseed oil and/or “hydrophobization,” according to ZDF heute journal reporting on 26 July 2012.

(Oll call ee KEE zell zoy reh ray ock tsee OHN.)

Planfeststellungsverfahren

“Plan determination process.” People living near Berlin’s new Willy Brandt Airport are trying get a court order to change the proposed landing paths, by petitioning for a new Planfeststellungsverfahren.

(Plon FEST shtell oongz fer FAR en.)

Vermögensvernichtungswaffe

“Wealth destruction weapon.” Criticism of a new plan to have the ESM buy up debt from struggling EU countries and, if needs must, exchange that paper for new euros from the European Central Bank. Some fear this will overeliminate incentives for struggling countries’ politicians to learn to stop overspending. And of course German economists think inflation might result.

(Fer MÖ genz fer NICK toongz voff eh.)

Finanzmarktstabilisierungsanstalt, FMSA

“Financial market stabilization institution.” From the SoFFin acronym, which stands for Sonderfonds Finanzmarktstabilisierung Finanzmarktstabilisierungsanstalt. SoFFin was founded in 2008 to stabilize struggling banks.

Update on 16 Jul 2013: Between 01 Jan and 30 Jun 2013, the German taxpayer-supported SoFFin fund paid out ~18 billion euros in aid, ~17 billion being in the form of Eigenkapitalhilfe [equity assistance? does this translation apply for banks?], which, ZDF heute journal reported, Hypo Real Estate benefitted most from, followed by Commerzbank and WestLB successor Portigon.

(Fee NONTS mark t shtah beel ee zeer oongs ON shtoll t.)

Markttransparenzstelle

The new “Market Transparency Office,” under the auspices of the German Federal Cartell Authority. The MTO is intended to gather and evaluate data from electricity companies and especially gas stations to ensure there is no price fixing. These data will not be shared with the public. It is not clear whether this new office will be functional or grandstanding.

Update on 12 Sep 2013: Starting today, drivers will have access to the price data ~13,000 German gas stations have been sending to the federal cartel authority [Bundeskartellamt] since 31 Aug 2013. The bundled data are forwarded to several phone apps and “registered consumer protection centers” or “consumer portals” drivers can use to compare gas station prices in real time; price changes are updated to the market transparency office every five minutes. Beta testing is scheduled to end 01 Dec 2013.

The following consumer portals have been approved for this so far:

http://www.clever-tanken.de

http://www.spritpreismonitor.de

http://mehr-tanken.de

http://www.ADAC.de

http://tanken.t-online.de

Spiegel.de reported another eight “information services” have been approved to help share the price data with consumers and another hundred have applied for approval.

The Green party called this a placebo office, criticizing inter alia that it does not fix inflationary pricing malheurs committed by the refineries (which have the same ownership as some large gas station chains in some cases). Also, it doesn’t cover all fuels or 100% of the market because the smallest gas stations can apply to be exempted. Germany has about 14,000 gas stations, so ~1000 are not participating as the service is launched.

(MARKED trons par ENTS shtell ah.)

Flüssigkeitsdurchflussmengen

“Liquid through-flow quantities,” in other words “flow.”

(FLOOSS ig kite s DOO rsh flooss meng en.)

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