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CREDIT CRUNCH

"Everyone has become increasingly obsessed with the credit crunch, which may sound rather unthreatening, like a breakfast cereal, but, if it becomes a recession, could develop into something altogether more serious. There is general consensus within the media that we are now facing a world financial meltdown, with the situation changing daily. US economists and politicians are currently debating whether Washington should acquire the banks' toxic assets for $700bn. In the first instance, Congress turned down the bill to inject $700bn into the banking system, amid popular feeling that this support of the banks was akin to being sued by a burglar who has broken into your home. The need for bank bail-outs has not gone away. Billions of taxpayers' dollars was used to give Wachovia to America's biggest bank, Citigroup. Belgium's largest bank, Fortis, was partly nationalised by the governments of Belgium, Luxembourg and Holland. Previously the US government bailed out the quaintly-named mortgage giants, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, who were teetering towards…

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Profile: Ulrich Früh

40 year-old Austrian, Ulrich Früh, is an engineer and architect, living and working in Poland. He is currently working for French real estate development group, Orco, on a luxury high-rise project called Złota 44, in Warsaw. What do you do? I develop, design, build and manage ambitious construction projects. Specifically, I am project director for Złota 44, in Warsaw. What projects have you been involved with and which are you most proud of? I’ve been working since 15, so at the age of 40, that gives me a couple of projects to choose from. It’s usually the ‘first time in my life achievements’ that remain important memories: my first major refurbishment (Vienna Castle, 1992–1993), my first major construction site abroad (Warsaw University Library 1997–2000), my first 5* high rise tower (Intercontinental Warsaw Hotel, 2000–2004). It is really the psychology of building up efficiently, motivating, teaching and guiding teams of highly specialised engineers that gives me pleasure, and sometimes pride. What are you doing at the…

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Towards a European career path

On 13 March, French economic newspaper, Les Échos, published a short comparison of the career paths of a few French, German and UK CFOs. In general terms, what the article seems to highlight is a predominance in Germany of Finanzvorstände who have climbed up the hierarchical ladder internally. Their Gallic counterparts are mostly graduates of the French Grandes Écoles, mandated to train the country’s elite, most having previously worked in government or the civil service. In the UK, obtaining chartered accountancy status and climbing the ladder through various successive (and successful) company moves seems the norm. It would perhaps fit certain stereotypes too well to say that the German system rewards hard work and loyalty and that the French model does not leave much room for a fast renewal of the elites. The UK comes across quite positively, with an emphasis on professional qualifications and experience. Yet, in an ever globalising world, where exchanges within the EU are at an all-time high, shouldn’t we be…

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Unemployment Insurance: A safety net for professionals

More than a quarter of a million jobs were lost in the Eurozone in January 2009, taking the overall unemployment level to 8.2%. It was the tenth consecutive month of rising unemployment, meaning 13 million people in the 16-state zone are out of work. The figures for the EU as a whole, are not much better, with unemployment rising to 7.6%, with 386,000 jobs lost in January. The Netherlands and Austria are the best performers, with unemployment levels of 2.8% and 4% respectively. Spain is the worst hit, with unemployment standing at 14.8%, partly due to lay-offs in their swollen construction industry. Europe is struggling to keep its head above water, but unemployment is rising less quickly than in the US. Half the EU member countries have unemployment rates lower than America’s and it is interesting to compare the differing attitudes to unemployment. Europe’s governments are used to being told that they need to make their labour markets more like America’s, with greater flexibility in…

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Des différences de parcours de carrière

La crise que nous connaissons actuellement va-t-elle être une chance pour le monde économique d'accélérer les évolutions dans son recrutement de dirigeants, ou les grandes entreprises vont-elles se renfermer sur elles-mêmes? Le 13 mars, Les Échos ont publié un court article comparant les parcours professionnels de quelques directeurs financiers allemands, britanniques, et français. Ce qui en ressort est que tandis qu’outre-Rhin, la voie royale serait par la promotion interne, et qu’au Royaume-Uni, pour devenir CFO, il faut, après avoir passé son diplôme d’expert-comptable, profiter de changements d’entreprise pour gravir les échelons, les directeurs financiers des entreprises du CAC40 ont plutôt un profil de grande école, fonction publique et secteur bancaire. Peut-on dire alors que nos voisins allemands récompensent la loyauté et le travail, qu’en France ces positions sont réservées à l’élite, et qu’outre-Manche, les entreprises n’ont que peu faire que d’autre chose que des habilités d’un candidat? Dans un monde où la mondialisation va croissante, et les échanges au sein de l’Union Européenne n’ont jamais…

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Le travail, la drogue et un bon déjeuner

Avant, je prenais de la drogue. J’en prends toujours. Mais j’en prenais avant, aussi. Mitch Hedberg Depuis 1993, le centre européen de surveillance sur les drogues et la toxicomanie (EMCDDA) publie chaque année un rapport sur la consommation de drogue en Europe. Le rapport de 2008 a informé que la consommation de cocaïne est en hausse, que celles des amphétamines et de l’ecstasy sont légèrement en baisse et que celles de l’héroïne et du cannabis demeurent relativement stables. Bien qu’il semblerait que le monde ait tendance à s’homogènéiser, la consommation de la drogue varie considérablement d’un pays à un autre. L’EMCDDA a pris en compte 30 pays, couvrant plus de 500 millions de personnes et 26 langues. Il révèle que seulement 10% environ des Européens prennent de la drogue régulièrement, alors pourquoi tant d’histoires? Certes, la drogue constitue probablement un important problème de société, mais le marché global de la drogue qui est évalué à 150 milliards de dollars représente la moitié d’un autre marché…

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Profil: Peter Norfolk

Peter Norfolk, britannique de 48 ans, est le numéro un mondial du tennis en fauteuil roulant pour la catégorie quad (tétraplégiques). Il a gagné 14 tournois du Grand Chelem, dont son troisième Open d'Australie cette année. il a gagné deux médailles d'or aux Jeux Paralympiques, à Athènes et Pékin. En 2005, il a été honoré d'un MBE (Membre de l'Ordre de l'Empire britannique, reconnaissance civile au Royaume-Uni). Que faites-vous? Depuis 1989 je gère mon entreprise, EPC Wheelchairs, à Farnborough, en Angleterre. Et je joue au tennis en fauteuil. Quelle serait une journée typique pour vous? Et bien, je vais au travail, ensuite j'emmène mon chien courir dans les bois et ensuite je joue au tennis pendant une heure ou deux au NTC (National Tennis Centre - Centre d'entrainement de haut niveau des joueurs de tennis britanniques) à Roehampton. Quelle est la réussite dont vous êtes le plus fier? Je pense qu'il s'agit de ma victoire cette année à l'Open d'Australie. Après Pékin, et sept ans…

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N’oubliez pas la « Génération Y »

« Génération Y » est un terme qui désigne les personnes de moins de 30 ans, et toute une industrie s’est développée pour nous dire comment au mieux travailler avec, et cibler la publicité efficacement envers ce groupe de jeunes, considéré comme la première génération véritablement à l’aise avec les nouvelles technologies à intégrer le monde du travail. Experience, Inc. fait partie de cette industrie, se décrivant comme un leader américain des services de carrière destiné aux étudiants et jeunes diplômés. Ils fournissent l’industrie avec divers conseils sur comment gérer la Génération Y, leurs principes pouvant se résumer à: « Ne les traitez pas comme de la main-d’œuvre peu chère et ne soyez pas paternalistes envers eux ». Leur dernière « recherche » s’appelle ‘Generation Y to significantly impact the workforce’ (« La Génération Y devrait avoir un impact significatif sur la force de travail ») et démontre cinq tendances qu’ils croient aideront les recruteurs et les DRH à « formuler une stratégie et mettre…

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Talk your way to a better job

In a recent speech, Barack Obama, who spent much of his youth living abroad, said: “I don’t speak a foreign language. It’s embarrassing.” He was stressing the importance of Americans learning a foreign language, to be able to compete in the global marketplace. Traditionally, Americans (and Brits) did not feel the need to learn other languages because the rest of the world was required to learn English. People are increasingly realizing that command of a second or third language can be a huge advantage in business. The acquisition of language is the process by which language develops in humans. First language acquisition concerns the development of language in children, while second language acquisition looks at language development in adults. Traditionally, theorists emphasised either nature or nurture as the most important factor in acquisition. Today, most acknowledge the importance of both biology and environment. Linguist Noam Chomsky argued that children have innate, language specific abilities that facilitate language learning. Others, like Michael Tomasello, have said language…

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Profile: Peter Norfolk: The Quadfather

48-year-old Brit, Peter Norfolk, is the world number one quad wheelchair tennis player. He has won 14 grand slam tournaments, including his third Australian Open this year. He has won two Paralympic gold medals, at Athens and Beijing. In 2005, he was awarded an MBE. What do you do? Since 1989 I have run a business, EPC Wheelchairs, in Farnborough. I also play wheelchair tennis. What is your typical day? Well, I’ll go to work and after that I’ll take my dog to the woods for a run and then play tennis for two or three hours at the NTC (National Tennis Centre) in Roehampton. What is your proudest achievement? I think, winning this year’s Australian Open. I’d been playing tennis non-stop for seven years, so after Beijing I took some time off. The heat in Australia was draining, in the 30s at 8am and the mid-forties by 11 and climbing, but I managed to regain my title. Also, I recently had a Stagecoach Goldline…

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