World Business: Europe's Businessmen Bureaucrats

SOME of Europe's biggest business executives are on government payrolls.

The companies they run are, variously, monuments of socialist tradition, nationalist pride or the turbulence of the Depression and World War II. In France, state ownership of industry is estimated to be 20% or more. One lingering result of Mussolini's corporate state is that modern Italian businessmen must operate in an economy where more than one-third of business is controlled by the government. In Germany, Hitler's Third Reich started Volkswagen to produce his "people's car," but it made war vehicles instead and is still 40% state-owned. Governments control every major European airline—because...

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