Internet trolls

What happens when you talk, and really listen, to a right-wing ‘hater’

Our most passionate commenter on Facebook has repeatedly slammed us for being “fake news.” One of our editors decided to hear him out in person. The lesson: Don’t judge a book by its cover. And also: Stand up for what you believe in.

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News Bites

VW Brazil will put 1,000 workers on compulsory leave for a month due to disappointing sales.

There was a knife attack on a bus in Lübeck, northern Germany, with reports of 8 people injured. Police confirmed no one was killed and are investigating whether it was motivated by terrorism.

European banks scale back certain areas of business before the date they report their leverage ratio, so they appear to meet regulators’ requirements, a BIS study found.

Katarina Barley (SPD), the minister for justice and consumer affairs, plans to limit the amount of money property buyers can claim for spending on renovation. (WiWo)

Ford Germany is recalling 190,000 cars because of problems with the clutch. (kfz-betrieb)

Used diesel cars from Germany sell well in other European countries, with exports increasing 20% to 240,000 vehicles last year.

This week, Chancellor Angela Merkel spent time with a woman with Down’s syndrome, and visited both a nursing home and a farm, underlying her commitment to promises made during her campaign.

Investigators expanded their probe into whether Daimler, BMW, Audi, Porsche and VW illegally colluded in order to avoid fitting cars with gasoline particulate filters. The carmakers refused to comment on the investigation. (Spiegel)

After US President Donald Trump said he would be willing to slap up to €500 billion of tariffs on Chinese goods, Germany’s DAX fell 0.55%, like other markets around the world.

In her pre-vacation press conference, Chancellor Angela Merkel answered questions about Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and European refugee policy, as well as the spat with her interior minister over asylum, the NSU trial and other domestic policies.

Responding to questions about NATO, Ms. Merkel said Germany must step up to its responsibilities in a changing world. But she insisted it is important to maintain close ties to Washington and that she would continue to support the trans-Atlantic alliance.

Of the talks between the leaders of Russia and the US, Ms. Merkel said dialogue was good, and that she is glad relations between the two countries were normalizing.

Asked about her disagreement with Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, Ms. Merkel said it was an important question about refugee policy within Europe, and an effective compromise had been found, allowing Germany to remain a reliable EU partner.

Ms. Merkel underlined her backing for boats run by NGOs who rescue refugees from the Mediterranean, but said they should stick to international law.

Ms. Merkel said she has no intention of resigning. When asked, she acknowledged the year had been busy but interesting, and that she was happy to be going on holiday.

Bilfinger is demanding a sum in the triple-digit millions back from 12 board members, for failing to halt corruption. The company has now improved compliance to a similar standard at other companies, according to Louis Freeh, the former FBI boss who advised the German construction conglomerate.

Ministers in North Rhine-Westphalia’s state parliament faced questions from opposition parties about the deportation of Sami A., who was flown to Tunisia despite a court order he could stay in Germany.

A test of banks’ ability to protect themselves from cyberattacks showed much room for improvement among German financial institutions, compared to those in Belgium and the Netherlands. (WiWo)

Today, Germany commemorates those who took part in Claus von Stauffenberg’s attempt to assassinate Hitler 74 years ago.

Ireland, the Netherlands and Denmark would be worst hit by a “no-deal scenario” if the EU and UK do not agree on the terms of Brexit, an IMF report said.

Italy doesn’t want any more ships bearing refugees as part of the European Commission’s ‘Sophia’ rescue mission to dock on its shores, its foreign ministry told the EU. (Die Welt)

In a draft law, Health Minister Jens Spahn will propose paying doctors more to hold longer walk-in hours, in order to reduce patient wait times. (Deutsches Ärzteblatt)

Berlin raised the monthly benefits to relatives of those killed in the 2016 Christmas market terror attack, after criticism the payments were too low.

The head of the Protestant Church in Germany, Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, criticized the lack of empathy shown by the CSU in discussing refugee policy. (Die Welt)

German show jumpers won the top prize for the third year in a row at the international CHIO horse-riding championship in Aachen.

Germany’s finance ministry said a reduction in the assumed 6% interest rate for companies’ pension liabilities could cost up to €40 billion. The high rate is controversial given the low interest rate environment.

The online fashion portal About You attained unicorn status as a new capital injection from the Danish holding company Heartland valued the Hamburg-based startup at more than a billion dollars.

Innovation leg-up

Germany plans first R&D tax breaks

Unlike many developed countries, Germany’s tax system does not directly reward business investment in research and development. But that could be about to change.

deconsolidation at german companies, siemens, healthineers

Get on board or get out

Market forces drive deconsolidation at German companies

Activist investors, competition and disruptive technology are forcing slow-moving conglomerates to embrace change rather than fight it.

Internet trolls

What happens when you talk, and really listen, to a right-wing ‘hater’

Our most passionate commenter on Facebook has repeatedly slammed us for being “fake news.” One of our editors decided to hear him out in person. The lesson: Don’t judge a book by its cover. And also: Stand up for what you believe in.

Don't like

Berlin warns Zuckerberg over Holocaust denier comments

The Facebook boss told an interviewer he doesn't think posts denying the mass-murder of Jews should be removed from the social network site. But such comments are a crime in Germany.

Editors’ Pick

Plague of locusts

The investor attack on ThyssenKrupp damages democracy

The conglomerate is one of the prime examples of the success of Germany’s social market economy, says former vice-chancellor Sigmar Gabriel. But now activist investors threaten both.

Dive In

News gallery

In case you missed it

Merkel's last day (sort of), going head to head on tariffs, remembering Nazi resistance and the most powerful corporate leaders.

Risk Cover

ECB’s new rules for bad loans make good sense

Germany approves of the new regulations on how banks can deal with bad debt and reduce risk, as introduced by the euro zone’s chief banking watchdog.

vicious circle

EU imposes tit-for-tat steel tariffs, threatens retaliation for US car levies

Europe imposed a tariff on steel imports and could target coal, pharma and chemicals from the United States if Washington taxes European cars. Critics say protectionism is spiraling.

Voicing concerns

Alexa, the scourge of German retailers

Voice commerce, or selling goods using virtual assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home, is on the rise in Germany, prompting fears among traditional and small retailers.

Fighting talk

Why Europe should heed Trump’s NATO warning

Forget Donald Trump’s rantings over European allies’ defense spending – the real danger is what they’ll do when America no longer comes to their aid.

B for bubble?

Glut in BBB bonds fuels warnings of market dangers

Bayer’s €20 billion bond sale in June was in line with a trend: A debt issue in the medium-grade range. But some worry that an economic downturn could turn BBB debt into junk bonds.

Android smartphone

EU antitrust fine of Google is big but too late

The US search giant has already cemented its market dominance in Europe's smartphone sector and rejects charges it is anti-competitive.

rubber to the road

Continental splits into three units amid shifts in auto industry

The world’s second-largest car parts supplier is looking for greater flexibility as it transitions to e-mobility and autonomous driving. At least one business will get a separate listing.

german universities international students

Degree of certainty

Foreign students flocking to German universities

The number of foreigners choosing to study for degrees in Germany is increasing. The country now ranks fifth, behind the US, Britain, Australia and France, as students' destination of choice.

eu japan free trade agreement, jefta

JEFTA

EU, Japan sign free-trade accord in rebuke to US

After the US withdrew from the Pacific trade pact, the European Union and Japan quickly joined forces to create the world’s largest free-trade zone.

Cleaned up

Germany overhauls chaotic anti-money-laundering unit

After a year of backlogs and delays in handling urgent money-laundering tip-offs, Germany’s new Financial Intelligence Unit is getting hundreds more staff, new powers and a new boss. 

Pipeline Defense

Nord Stream 2 takes center stage in Trump’s NATO performance

Trump is right that Germany’s reliance on Russian gas is worrying, but he is wrong to conflate the pipeline with NATO spending, write two policy experts for Handelsblatt Global.

Ask a German

Handelsblatt explains

Much about Germany is confusing or surprising to foreigners - and even to Germans. Our editors provide clarity.

All change

ThyssenKrupp shares soar as top-level departures signal breakup

With the departure of the CEO and chairman, activist investors appear to have won a boardroom battle over the future strategy of the conglomerate. It could be a turning point in German corporate governance.

Against the law?

Germany divided over illegal deportation of man linked to Al Qaeda

A former bodyguard for Osama bin Laden was deported despite a court order saying he could remain in Germany. Now, many are asking who ordered the deportation.

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