Feb 6, 2019

Monopolies vs. China: Europe debates which presents a greater threat

Alstom train at the the Frankfurt-Hoechst station. Photo: Arne Dedert/AFP via Getty Images

A tension has surfaced in Europe between a fear of China effectively buying up whole industries and local companies becoming too large: Public officials are uncertain which dynamic is more pernicious.

Driving the news: In a decision tomorrow, the European Commission is expected to veto the railroad merger of Germany's giant Siemens and France's Alstom.

  • The merger's advocates say the blockbuster combination is needed to meet the threat of China's state-owned CRCC rail gargantuan.
  • But critics say that CRCC shows no sign of operating anytime soon in Europe and the Siemens-Alstom combination will be so big that it will be able to force up prices almost at will.
  • In this case, the latter fear appears to have prevailed.

"The merger decision has broader political significance because it can either vindicate or try to stop the more statist interests in the economy that have been brewing for many years," says Jacob Kirkegaard, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

The bottom line: There has been a profound shift in European sentiment about big and growing private companies, which until recently have been championed by the U.K. and Germany against more state-led impulses of France, Kirkegaard tells Axios.

  • Now, Brexit and a political shift in Germany have led to new scrutiny of big companies.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 5 p.m. ET: 1,187,798 — Total deaths: 64,084 — Total recoveries: 245,949Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 5 p.m. ET: 301,902 — Total deaths: 8,175 — Total recoveries: 14,505Map.
  3. Public health latest: CDC launches national trackers and recommends face coverings in public. Federal government will cover costs of COVID-19 treatment for uninsured. The virus is hitting poor, minority communities harder and upending childbirth.
  4. 2020 latest: "We have no contingency plan," Trump said on the 2020 Republican National Convention. "We're having the convention at the end of August."
  5. Business updates: Restaurants step up for health care workers. Employees are pressuring companies to provide protections during coronavirus. America's small business bailout off to bad start.
  6. Oil latest: Monday meeting among oil-producing countries to discuss supply curbs is reportedly being delayed amid tensions between Saudi Arabia and Russia.
  7. Education update: Many college-age students won't get coronavirus relief checks.
  8. 1 🏀 thing: The WNBA postpones start of training camps and season.
  9. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll surpasses 8,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Recorded deaths from the coronavirus surpassed 8,000 in the U.S. on Saturday afternoon, per Johns Hopkins data. The death toll in the U.S. has risen over 1,000 every day for the past four days, since April 1.

The big picture: As expected, COVID-19 death tolls are rising in the U.S. The CDC is recommending Americans wear face coverings in public to help stop the spread, marking a significant change in messaging from the Trump administration.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 3 hours ago - Health

World coronavirus updates: Spain tracks more cases than Italy

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

Spain overtook Italy in its number of coronavirus cases on Saturday. The global death toll has surpassed 62,000, per Johns Hopkins data.

The latest: About half the planet's population is on lockdown amid the coronavirus crisis. Fatalities are exponentially increasing across Europe, with roughly half of deaths worldwide located in Italy and Spain.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 3 hours ago - Health