Europe facing new threat of economic deflation

After breaking out of recession and taming its financial crisis, Europe now faces a new kind of economic threat: deflation.

A protracted drop in prices could snuff out growth for years. And new data released Monday showed the inflation rate fell in March to its lowest level since the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, a sign of economic weakness that piles fresh pressure on the European Central Bank to further ease its monetary policies this week.

Senator says Caterpillar Inc. shifted profits overseas

Sen. Carl Levin says manufacturing giant Caterpillar Inc. has used an aggressive tax strategy to shift profits overseas in order to avoid paying billions in U.S. taxes.

The Michigan Democrat chairs the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. The committee’s Democratic staff said in a report released Monday that Caterpillar avoided paying $2.4 billion in U.S. taxes since 2000 by shifting profits to a wholly-controlled affiliate in Switzerland.

The report raises questions about the validity of the tax strategy but does not accuse the Peoria, Ill.-based manufacturer of breaking the law.

The company said that it complies with all tax laws and pays an effective income tax rate of 29 percent, among the highest for multinational manufacturers.

Johnson & Johnson accepts The Carlyle Group’s offer

Johnson & Johnson has accepted an roughly $4 billion offer from the private equity firm The Carlyle Group to buy its Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics business.

The New Brunswick, N.J., health care giant said Monday that the deal should close by mid-year.

Lufthansa to cancel 3,800 flights because of strike

Germany’s Lufthansa will cancel some 3,800 flights because of a three-day strike by the pilots’ union later this week, hitting more than 425,000 passengers.