Franz Munterfering called the private equity groups
and hedge funds swarming into Germany 'locusts'
Financial markets around the globe are in turmoil. Though primarily caused by a subprime mortgage crisis inside America, the fallout has been dramatic and global. Banks and hedge funds around the world have been hit with losses of hundreds of millions and even billions of dollars.

Easy money has also driven a frenzy of leveraged buyouts by private equity funds.

The private equity investors take over a publicly listed company - using loans collateralised by the assets of the very company they are taking over - and then strip the assets of the company, like its real estate holdings or its employees, before selling the company back to the public markets at a profit.

Their business methods lead many to call them bad names - but one of the most colourful names goes to Franz Munterfering, the German vice-chancellor, who famously called the private equity groups and hedge funds swarming into Germany right now "locusts".

Analyst Max Keiser travels to Berlin to investigate the role played by private equity deals during this current wave of bank closures and hedge fund liquidations.

Balkan Buddy

The Zallheer Commando regiment prides itself
on its special forces status
Albania could be seen as an unlikely ally in the US campaign in Iraq, yet 120 soldiers from this nominally Muslim country are in the "coalition of the willing", fighting alongside US and British forces.

Their contribution is small but symbolic – Albania's leaders want to assure the US they are loyal allies as they push for entry into Nato.

Al Jazeera was given exclusive access to the country's special forces as they train for their missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Watch part one of this episode of Focus on locusts on Youtube

Watch part two of this episode of Focus on locusts on Youtube

This episode of People & Power aired from Friday, 7 December 2007 at the following times:

Friday: 20:30 GMT
Saturday (repeat): 03:00 GMT
Sunday (repeat): 14:30 GMT
Monday (repeat): 01:30 and 13.30
Tuesday (repeat): 06:30 and 20.30


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