10 kinds of people

German “Digitalisierung” versus American innovation

Whereas English-speakers have many words for technological progress, Germans have settled on one: Digitalisierung. Too bad.

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News Bites

BMW will recall 11,700 diesel vehicles of its 5 and 7 Series, because the models received  an incorrect software update in 2014, leading to elevated emissions.

Chinese carmaker Geely has bought a 9.7% stake in Daimler, becoming its largest shareholder. The maker of Mercedes-Benz cars and trucks welcomed Geely as a long-term investor, and said it had a strong partner in China, Baic Motors.

The Hessian Peace Prize, worth €25,000, has been awarded to Swiss attorney Carla Del Ponte, who acted as a former chief prosecutor for the UN tribunals for Rwanda and ex-Yugoslavia.

Many Germans have the wrong idea about the Nazi era, the Foundation for Remembrance, Responsibility and Future (EVZ) has found. A far higher percentage (18%) thought family members had helped fleeing Jews than was realistic.

Volkswagen Group more than doubled its net profit to €11.6 billion last year as Dieselgate charges halved to €3.2 billion and revenue rose by 6%. VW sold 10.8 million vehicles, up 3.7% compared with 2016.

The southern state of Baden-Württemberg exported around €200 billion worth of goods in 2017, making it the top exporting state in Germany, according to the Federal Statistical Office. Bavaria follows with €192 billion.

BMW has signed a preliminary contract with Chinese carmaker Great Wall to produce the next generation of electric Minis there.

German consumers will have to pay €2.7 billion for a linking pipeline once the Russian Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline is laid, according to government papers. (Spiegel)

Happy birthday to the diesel engine. Rudolf Diesel filed a patent for the engine in Berlin 125 years ago today.

Despite the weather, the first of Germany’s open air swimming pools has opened. The Karlsruhe pool is first to open for the ‘summer season’ every year.

Germany’s biggest insurer Allianz has acquired more than 95% of the shares in French credit insurance firm Euler Hermes, making its full takeover a formality.

Almost half of Germans (47%) fear they won’t be able to maintain their standard of living and social status, a study by the University of Paderborn found.

After Poland, Lithuania and Luxembourg, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has said there is too much focus on refugees. He was expressing opposition to Angela Merkel’s desire to attach EU funding to refugee intake

Over half the audience left a Berlinale press screening of a debut film by Romanina director, Adina Pintilie. Touch Me Not was apparently too sexually explicit for even the open-minded film festival crowd.

Berlin’s oft-delayed new airport will cost an extra €770 million to complete, bringing total costs to over €7.3 billion. The airport should open in 2020. (RBB)

Members of the right wing AfD party calling themselves the Alternative Middle say they will oppose any move to let the anti-Islamic Pegida group get closer to the AfD again.

Budget airline Ryanair is reducing the number of planes stationed at Frankfurt-Hahn airport from five to four, due to “economic conditions”.

A fifth of SPD members have already voted on whether the proposed coalition government with their party and the CDU can go ahead. The ballot ends March 2.

Another German national has been released from a Turkish prison, according to the foreign office. Four Germans remain incarcerated.

The association for entrepreneurs and the self-employed, the VGSD, will oppose the potential new coalition government’s plan to introduce statutory pension payments for their members.

A Munich woman who acquired an arctic wolf skin from the US, believing it a nice decoration, may pay a five-figure penalty as the animal is covered by the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

The new head of the Green party, Robert Habeck, wants to require businesses to tell the government about any intentions to use tax loopholes.

Further strikes by workers at Deutsche Post were planned for Friday. Negotiations by trade union Verdi to raise wages 6% have been unsuccessful so far.

A new poll shows the SPD continuing to hit record lows, falling 2 points to 17%. The SPD’s outgoing leader, Martin Schulz, is at the bottom of a list of top 10 German politicians, after topping the list a year ago. (ZDF)

Turnover at Xing, a German online career-networking portal, rose 26% to €187.8 million, thanks to record numbers of new members.

Bottlenecks in supplies of sand and other raw materials for construction are likely in 2018, Germany’s Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources warned.

Germany took in 36.6 billion (US$45 billion) more than it spent last year, according to the Federal Statistical Office.

Hyundai’s luxury Genesis brand topped a US quality ranking by lobby group Consumer Reports. Genesis relegated VW’s Audi brand to position two, followed by BMW, Toyota’s Lexus and VW’s Porsche.

The first carbon-neutral workshop for Germany’s high-speed ICE trains opens today in Cologne. Costing €220-million, the facility is as large as 30 soccer fields and uses geothermal power.

Saudi Arabia has reacted angrily to Germany’s decision to stop exporting weapons there from mid-January. Riyadh will buy weapons elsewhere, said Adel al-Jubeir, the foreign minister.

EU funds should not be tied to refugee policies, said Poland’s minister for European affairs, Konrad Szymański, as politicians prepare for a budget summit in Brussels.

Lost in translation

German directness, American euphemisms: the hell of cross-cultural communication

Americans and Germans do a lot of business together – and often have unnecessary misunderstandings, causing a lot of grief and mistrust. An American consultant who has lived in Germany for 25 years offers some help.

Old school

History’s the hero at Berlinale film fest

The annual festival in Berlin featured a slew of historic movies spanning a showcase of works from the Weimar Republic to a film about a mysterious protest group in the seventies.

Foreign Policy

Germany should mediate between Iran and Israel

The need for a more active German foreign policy has been stressed repeatedly of late. Germany could start by helping to prevent a further escalation in the Middle East, writes Gil Murciano.

Daimler Dieselgate

Getting closer to the truth about Daimler’s diesels

A German court has ruled that an independent expert must determine the pollution levels emitted by a Mercedes SUV that runs on diesel. The move could spell an unprecedented turn in the ongoing court cases involving German automakers.

Editors’ Pick

Power grab

Martin Selmayr, a hard-nosed German, cements his power in Brussels

The powerful, backroom figure in the European Commission will take over as head of its control center. He becomes the third German to secure a top job in Brussels – one too many, critics argue.

Dive In

board size

ECB bank regulator finally flexing some muscle

The ECB says Helaba, a state-backed lender, has too many people on its supervisory board. And it wants more experts at a smaller development bank.

Less Britain

BMW plans to build electric Minis in China

The German carmaker aims to enter a joint venture with Great Wall Motor to produce e-Minis in China in addition to its Oxford plant amid Brexit uncertainty.

€200-300 billion?

Mobile carriers’ next challenge: finding the money for 5G

The next generation of smartphones promises to revolutionize communications for T-Mobile and other firms. But carriers are worried about the huge investment costs that will be needed first.

Record Revenue

Henkel is not sexy, but it is profitable

Investors don't appear to be particularly enthused about Henkel, a consumer and chemicals group that makes mundane products like shampoo and glue. But the group's financial performance is something to be excited about.

Family Affair

Porsche to VW Group: No diesel engines for now, please

A sign VW’s Dieselgate is far from over: Subsidiary Porsche has suspended sales of diesel models at the same time its supplier, VW unit Audi, is under investigation.

economics podcast

Paul Krugman on Germany, Europe, Trump, the world

Paul Krugman, Nobel laureate in economics, chatted with Andreas Kluth, editor-in-chief of Handelsblatt Global, and Ellen Frauenknecht of broadcaster ARD. On the euro crisis, he "got the economics right, but the politics wrong." On Trump, he urges Europeans: "Stand up for values" and "don't normalize".

High risk

Siemens, Total unit Saft form EU consortium to develop advanced batteries

European firms gear up to challenge Asian dominance of growing market for energy storage.

Greasy palms

Germany urged to do more to combat corruption, curb lobbies

Germany is failing to address corruption, according to Transparency International’s annual report. The NGO painted an even grimmer picture of Eastern Europe, where misconduct thrives under autocratic governments.

Paper chase

German publishers cozy up to weather social media storm

The country's largest media groups, including Spiegel, Burda, Bauer and Funke Group, are ganging up to take on Google.

Question of Solidarity

Bundestag debate exposes deep divisions over the future of Europe

Angela Merkel led an unruly debate over Europe in Germany’s new parliament that, for the first time, included Alternative for Germany leader Alice Weidel.

Ask a German

Handelsblatt explains

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

chipper move

Following Google, Apple, Infineon plugs into smart speaker boom

The German chipmaker will launch a new product that should improve the digital assistants of Amazon, Google and Apple. Infineon is banking on runaway growth of smart speakers.

German engineering

Daimler can’t wait to buy a Tesla truck and take it apart

Following a PR nightmare over a damaged Tesla car, the maker of Mercedes-Benz vehicles is now eager to buy and test two of Tesla’s electric rigs as soon as they hit the market.

SME Power

Mittelstand

Volkswagen, Bayer and Adidas are household names. But more than 95 percent of Germany's economy is generated by lesser-known firms that aren’t listed on the blue-chip DAX Index.

State secrets

Germany is just fine with the NotPetya cyberattack but its allies aren’t

The US shared details incriminating Russia in last year's disastrous ransomware strike, Handelsblatt has learned. America, Britain, Australia – even Denmark – are publicly outraged. Only Germany is oddly silent.

Conciliatory tone

Turkey tries to ease tensions with Germany

There are signs of thaw in the strained relationship between the NATO members. But thorny issues remain.

Dieselgate

Class-action suit looms over VW in Austria

Volkswagen could face a wave of legal complaints in Austria over its emissions cheating scandal.

Changing of Guard

Deutsche Börse’s new CEO wants the ‘Drang’ without the ‘Sturm’

Theodor Weimer pledges growth but rules out a big acquisition or merger for the stock market operator.

€2.5-billion transaction

Bavarian apartments, Russian investors and a suspect housing deal

The 2013 sale of 32,000 apartments owned by Bavaria's state bank is raising eyebrows as new details have led to allegations of Russian money laundering in connection with the deal.

SPD Vote

A minority government could win back voters in political debate

"Grand coalitions" have stifled debate and interest in politics. Foregoing both a new coalition and new elections is the best way to catch voters' eyes, argues the president of Berlin's Hertie School of Governance.

Family Values

German retailer Conrad Electronic is taking on Amazon and Google

Conrad is among a shrinking number of European electronic retailers. Eyeing survival, the family-owned company is swinging at the tech giants with a new smart home platform.

Big data vs Big Brother

Germany edges toward Chinese-style rating of citizens

China is experimenting with a dystopian “social credit system” which grades every citizen based on their behavior. The head of an expert panel argues that Germany is sleepwalking in the same direction.

Euro politics

Path clear for Germany’s Weidmann to succeed Draghi as head of ECB

A consensus for Spain's Luis de Guindos to be vice president of the ECB sets stage for the head of the Bundesbank to nab the crucial top job.

Protectionism First

Threat of punitive trade tariffs sends Germany reeling

The Trump administration wasted no time disrupting immigration or slashing regulations, but when it came to making good on its much-hyped “America First” trade agenda, the president seemed to drag his feet. Not anymore.

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