Not my mutti

Germany’s imperial Reichsbürger spell trouble on the extreme right

Little known outside Germany, the Reichsbürger (“Citizens of the Reich”) are on the rise, and they are angrier and more armed than ever.

News Bites

Giuseppe Conte, a little-known law professor designated to become the prime minister by Italy’s new populist coalition, has given up the mandate to form a government amid reports President Sergio Mattarella vetoed his finance pick, hardline Eurosceptic Paolo Savona.

Up to 5,000 far-right sympathizers of the Alternative for Germany marched in central Berlin on Sunday, police said. However, a dozen counter-demonstrations drew 25,000 people criticizing the AfD’s racism.

A KFC restaurant in Berlin has denied accusations of racism for calling the police on a group of black customers. Berlin police said it will press charges against the British diners for uploading a video of the incident, because it violated the officers’ privacy.

Germany regrets US President Donald Trump’s decision to call off a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. A government spokeswoman called for “dialogue at the highest level” to resolve the standoff on the Korean peninsula.

Daimler may have to recall more than 600,000 diesel Mercedes cars as German regulator KBA suspects they contain cheat devices to manipulate emissions. (Der Spiegel)

Germany’s transport minister, Andreas Scheuer, summoned CEO Dieter Zetsche after the KBA ordered the recall of 4,900 faulty Mercedes Vito vans. The Daimler boss may have more explaining to do than he originally expected.

Deutsche Bank accidentally transferred €21 billion to Australian bank Macquarie in 2014. The bank acknowledged the blunder during the shareholders’ meeting on Friday, echoing a similar gaffe revealed a month ago. Oops!

Chancellor Angela Merkel ended her two-day trip to China visiting a Siemens subsidiary in Shenzhen, a manufacturing hub in southern China.

The euro fell to $1.1663 on Friday afternoon, the lowest exchange rate this year, amid concerns about the political situation in Italy, the third-biggest country in the euro zone.

Deutsche Börse wants to offer cryptocurrency products, though Jeffrey Tessler, head of clients, said the operator of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange wants “to make sure we understand the underlying transaction” before a launch. (Bloomberg)

The EU shouldn’t just attempt to use persuasion to avoid conflict with Donald Trump said a German economist at Ifo. “Europe is valuable for the US,” Gabriel Felbermayr said, adding that US companies have $100 billion in corporate income at stake in Europe.

Siemens will invest €10 million in Europe’s answer to Tesla’s Gigafactory. The €4-billion plant in northern Sweden will start producing e-car batteries this year.

Social Democrats in Bavaria’s state parliament filed a constitutional complaint against a new law that extends the powers of Bavarian police. The surveillance legislation takes effect today and “curtails citizens’ freedoms,” the lawmakers argued.

The EU has taken the Bahamas and St. Kitts and Nevis off its blacklist of tax havens, lauding concessions made by both Caribbean nations. The list still includes 8 territories of the original 17, including the US Virgin Islands and American Samoa.

Christian Lindner, the head the pro-business FDP, called on the European Commission to initiate a deficit procedure against Italy after the country’s new populist government signaled it would disregard Brussels’ budget rules.

For practising Muslims, fasting during Ramadan can be hard — and then there’s nonsense from the AfD, a German far-right party which on Thursday called for Muslims to be barred from work during the entire month.

The Ifo business climate index remained unchanged at 102.2 points in May, after falling for five months in a row. The Munich-based economic research institute surveys 7,000 German managers each month.

After accusations of racism, Super Dickmann’s, a German sweetmaker, apologized and deleted a Facebook ad for its chocolate-covered marshmallow Schokokuss, which it compared to Meghan Markle, Prince Harry’s biracial wife.

A senior EU official accused Britain of “chasing a fantasy” after Brexit talks this week failed to break the deadlock on core issues, including the Irish border, customs, and others.

Dozens of US news websites are temporarily unavailable across the EU as the new GDPR privacy law takes effect today. The Chicago Tribune and LA Times’ sites posted messages promising to quickly comply in order to share “our award-winning journalism” with European readers.

Deutsche Bank shareholders rebuffed Chairman Paul Achleitner at the annual meeting with a vote of confidence of only 84.4 percent, well below the 90 percent considered the minimum satisfactory level. (Reuters)

EU finance ministers reached a compromise on bank capital that allows regulators to require an 8 percent level for some banks when deemed necessary and a lower ratio of 6.75 percent for others.

The director of transport at the Environmental Protection Agency, Christopher Grundler, told Handelsblatt the US is networking with other nations to toughen emission testing. He said Volkswagen’s corporate culture remained unsatisfactory.

Germany’s financial regulator, Bafin, is looking into the spike in ThyssenKrupp shares Tuesday on rumors that Paul Singer’s Elliott Management was acquiring a stake in the DAX company.

Deutsche Bank shares fell toward their all-time lows, closing down 5 percent at €10.38, after CEO Christian Sewing failed to inspire confidence at the annual meeting with his pledge to cut costs.

Carmaker Daimler used an illegal shut-off device for emissions control in its Vito vans, according to Germany’s Motor Transport Authority, which is demanding a recall. The company rejects the accusation.

Ten families from five EU countries, as well as from Fiji and Kenya, are suing Brussels over its weak climate targets, saying their rights are being violated even if they live outside the trading bloc, said eco group Germanwatch.

A slowdown in euro-zone growth, which has nearly halved since the start of 2018, has the ECB worried about a more pronounced drop, as risks to the economic outlook for all member states have increased.

AfD voters are more pessimistic than other party voters, with 83% seeing dark days ahead if the country continues on its current path, according to a survey by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.

There have been 67 confirmed cases of measles in Cologne this year, the worst outbreak in 16 years. Most people infected with the highly contagious virus are between 20 and 25 years old.

German retail company Peek & Cloppenburg used a Nazi-related slogan “Jedem das Seine” – “to each his own” – in an advertising campaign. The cynical words appeared on the entrance to the Buchenwald concentration camp.

Deutsche Bank confirmed it will cut more than 7,000 jobs, with its equity business reduced by 25%. Reports yesterday suggested the figure would be closer to 10,000.

US President Donald Trump ordered the Department of Commerce to examine whether car imports are a threat to US national security. He is reportedly considering a 25% import tax on vehicles and parts.

Berlin is reportedly backing a threat by senior European Commission officials to block Britain from using the EU’s Galileo satellite navigation system when it leaves the bloc. (The Times)

An attempt to defuse a World War II bomb in Dresden failed when part of the weapon detonated, causing a fire. Almost 9,000 evacuees must now wait for another attempt when the bomb has cooled.

Some 5,548 failed asylum seekers were deported from Germany in the first quarter of 2018, but another 4,752 remained after their repatriation was prevented. In many cases, pilots refused to fly them home. (Funke Media Group)

A Paraguayan tribe has taken over the search for a missing Austrian traveler after officials failed to locate him. Wilhelm Wabnegg was last heard from in the Defensores del Chaco park on May 2.

The number of British firms relocating to Germany jumped by 20% in 2017 to 152. The Germany Trade and Invest agency said Brexit was behind the increased investment. (Reuters)

Bayern Munich, Germany’s biggest soccer club, is the fourth-most valuable club in Europe at €2.55 billion. Top was Britain’s Manchester United at €3.25 billion, a KPMG study found.

Former Deutsche Bank CEO John Cryan was fired in April due to the supervisory board’s discontent with his management and a “series of indiscretions,” revealed chairman Paul Achleitner.

Want something done in Germany? Go to Ingolstadt in Bavaria. The city’s Audi factory has the highest productivity per employee in Germany, a study by the Ifo research institute found.

Last year, more apartments were built in Germany than at any time since 2002. Completions rose 2.6% to 284,800, but critics say this is still inadequate.

Apple reportedly signed a deal with Volkswagen to equip VW vans with its self-driving technology and use them to transport staff at its California HQ. The tech giant abandoned its own attempt to make an electric vehicle in 2016.

Germany’s economy stuttered in the first quarter as GDP grew by the lowest rate for 18 months. It was up just 0.3% on the previous quarter.

Consumer confidence in Germany is predicted to fall in June, its second successive drop. The GfK barometer forecast a decline of 0.1 points to 10.7.

Germany and China will strengthen their ties in the high-tech sector, especially in self-driving vehicles, said Angela Merkel and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is visiting Beijing, and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang reaffirmed their commitment to the Iran nuclear deal.

artistic tearaway

The art of selling art, by Germany’s biggest dealer Cheyenne Westphal

Perfect timing, a sense of what you like and a top-notch network are the secrets that helped Cheyenne Westphal break records selling a work owned by John McEnroe.

social security

How those paycheck deductions work and how they may decrease

Institutional surpluses might mean more take-home pay for full-time employees in Germany. Long-term care insurance is a problem, though.

No yin yang

A Great Wall against German investment

On paper there is nothing to stop German companies buying Chinese firms. But the reality is very different. Yet they don’t complain about the discrimination because they’re making big money in China.


Germany may block tech takeover amid security and trade concerns

After a wave of Chinese purchases of German technology firms, Berlin is considering blocking a new acquisition. Primarily worried about security, officials are also frustrated by China's tightly-controlled domestic markets.

Editors’ Pick

Ties that Bind

America and Germany are about so much more than Trump

If the American-German relationship can survive US President Donald Trump's term, it'll be stronger than ever, write three policy experts for Handelsblatt.

Dive In

Not my mutti

Germany’s imperial Reichsbürger spell trouble on the extreme right

Little known outside Germany, the Reichsbürger (“Citizens of the Reich”) are on the rise, and they are angrier and more armed than ever.

Legal eagles

Could the EU really break up Facebook’s monopoly?

This week several EU politicians suggested Facebook be broken up. The Zuck should worry, as Europe has a history of taming tech giants.

Naughty, naughty

EU scolds Germany (again) for low investment, high taxes, and more

Brussels takes Berlin to task for deficiencies in economic and fiscal policy, but the critique is likely to fall on deaf ears as it has in the past.

Annual meeting

Deutsche Bank shareholders rebuff chairman in confidence vote

The beleaguered head of the supervisory board got well below a satisfactory level of support as investors vented their anger over turmoil at Germany’s largest bank.

Slashing costs

Deutsche Bank plans deep cuts as investor pressure mounts

The bank tempered reports it would fire 10,000 employees by saying more than 7,000 jobs would go. The annual meeting on Thursday will focus on the future of board chairman Paul Achleitner.

spare change

Shell helps German battery maker Sonnen rake in €60 million

The oil giant's investment joins a series of green projects by fossil-fuel companies to fight global warming. But they aren't moving fast enough.

Goodbye, America

German carmakers giddy as China lowers tariffs

While the US threatens to raise tariffs, China is lowering them on cars. Germany, stuck in the middle, may have to rethink both relationships.

Bureaucratic meltdown

Bribery scandal shines new spotlight on Germany’s refugee policy

The head of the refugee authority, BAMF, is under investigation over alleged corruption and a cover-up involving more than 1,000 dubiously approved asylum applications. Opponents of Angela Merkel’s open-door policy are scoring easy political points.

Think small

From VW to Siemens, German businesses join spin-off boom

Corporate divestment is en vogue and fueling a surge in mergers and acquisitions around the world. Notoriously cautious Germany has joined the frenzy with Daimler, Continental and others considering breakups.

Ask a German

Handelsblatt explains

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

Rules, rules, rules

German politicians warn Italy’s new government

As Italy awaited the nomination of a new prime minister, German lawmakers warned the country’s incoming populist coalition of “playing with fire.” Its policies pose a risk to the euro zone.


Profit and Loss Check

Once a year, we take a critical look at the financial health of selected German blue-chip companies around the time of their annual shareholders' meetings.

Trans-Atlantic rift

Germany in the age of Trump

As the foreign ministers of Germany and the US meet in Washington for damage control, a foreign-policy expert ponders what Germany should do now that Donald Trump has cancelled the "partnership in leadership."

Playing with fire

Germany’s main opposition party is talking just as Hitler did

The far-right AfD routinely uses words that were employed by the Nazis to trash critics and stir up hatred, a German linguist says. That’s causing concern among politicians as well as security officials.

Getting off Easy

Facebook’s Zuckerberg is home free after European Parliament meeting

Social network pioneer Mark Zuckerberg skated through his European Parliament hearing as the format left him little time to answer the questions he cherry-picked.

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