MUCH of the political action in recent years can be linked to a backlash against globalisation—the Brexit vote or the rise of politicians like Marine Le Pen and Donald Trump, for example. A recent post drew parallels with the first great era of globalisation in the late 19th/early 20th centuries which also led to a backlash; anarchist assassinations, industrial unrest and restrictions on immigration.

Our latest special report on the company pointed to another parallel with the late 19th century; the emergence of giant corporations. Back then, such companies were dubbed trusts in America and were tackled by Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. But this was not a purely American phenomenon; some of the big German companies, such as Bayer and BASF, had already appeared well before 1914. Bismarck was influential in setting up the close link between large German banks and the corporate sector that has been a feature of the German economic model ever...Continue reading