Swatting “Locusts”: Germany, the EU Take Aim at Investment Funds

Posted by John Rosenthal

“For the locusts in the finance sector, a new age is dawning.” This is how German Social Democrat and Member of the European Parliament Udo Bullmann commented on the prospect of new EU-wide regulations for hedge funds. The comment harks back to spring 2005, when then SPD party chairman Franz Müntefering compared financial investors to a “swarm of locusts.” The comparison sparked controversy, especially after historian Michael Wolffsohn accused Müntefering and the Social Democrats of using rhetoric reminiscent of Nazi screeds. Indeed, as the German journalist Ulrich Speck pointed out at the time, the “swarm of locusts” metaphor had a long history in anti-Semitic discourse dating back to at least the early 19th century.

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