Morning Briefing

Erdogan Grabs for the Nazi Cudgel

In a CNN interview, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had nasty words for new German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Steinmeier had criticized Erdogan’s fetish for applying the “Nazi’’ slur to a country that has welcomed in 1.1 million refugees. “Respect the rule of law and freedom of the press’’ Steinmeier had publicly admonished the Ankara autocrat. Fat chance. Erdogan to CNN: “You get the freedom to call Erdogan a dictator, but Erdogan shouldn’t have the freedom to call you Nazis? As long as they call Erdogan a dictator, I will address them with this term. It’s that simple.’’ And for German-Turkish relations, it’s all the more difficult.

The Mideast correspondent for the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Paul-Anton Krüger, gives us reason to be hopeful in today’s edition of the Munich newspaper. Krüger sees signs of the West’s coming victory over the IS terror group. “IS is losing land, money and access to oil fields: The terror militia is on the brink of a military defeat in Iraq and Syria. Last year, the caliphate lost a third of its territory to about 23,166 square miles and the jihadists have lost significantly more in the last few months.’’ This doesn’t give us reason to celebrate, but to hope.

Brave man: Deutsche Bank CEO John Cryan is working to strengthen the capital base of Germany’s biggest financial institution. A capital increase in the works aims to raise €8 billion. Behind the scenes, our reporters have learned that the bank is preparing to sell the first shares in Deutsche Asset Management, the high-net value private money manager and one of the bank’s hidden gems. With these moves, Deutsche Bank won’t become more attractive, but it will become more stable. Cryan is completing the unfinished business left on his desk by his successors, going all the way back to Josef Ackermann, the architect of the bank’s global expansion.

What will happen to Volkswagen after the era of Ferdinand Piëch ends? That’s the question employees and customers of the world’s largest automaker are asking after the engineering patriarch announced plans to sell his €1.2 billion stake in Porsche SE, the Salzburg holding company that controls VW. Our auto reporting team today sketches the outlines of a post-Piëch generation, which will probably involve less genius, but more empathy. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. By the end of his run Piëch, now 79, was starting to act like a typical late-model, gas-burning engine: lots of smoke and little efficiency. Increasingly, he wasn’t hitting on all cylinders.

It’s virtually impossible to earn interest on savings. But DAX 30 firms will deliver nearly €32 billion to their shareholders this year. There are even global companies like U.S. pharma giant Eli Lilly that has paid a dividend every year for 132 years. The benefits of a pure dividend strategy are obvious: One doesn’t speculate on rising share prices, one saves. Investors don’t gamble, but wait and accumulate. Our weekend piece describes how this works – and names the 10 biggest dividend stars.

The good news: With support from the Green Party, Germany’s ruling coalition has passed a new law governing the disposal of nuclear waste. The plan is supposed to render harmless the atomic garbage of German nuclear plants that will glow for about 1 million years. The bad news: The new law doesn’t stipulate where to build the massive, hermetically sealed dump. But a burial site is supposed to be found by 2031. By then of course, most politicians who signed on to this will be senior citizens and far removed from the thorny issue of deciding which part of Germany draws the short radioactive straw. That’s no coincidence; that’s politics.

Martin Walser, one of Germany’s greatest living writers, turns 90 today. One of our own best-selling authors, Hans-Jürgen Jakobs, congratulates and lauds the literary heavyweight who understood how to free himself from labels imposed by society. Recently, Walser announced he had checked out of the “know-it-all business.’’ But that’s exactly what our public debate needs — someone uncompromising like Walser. We’d rather have a clever question mark than three flat answers.

I wish Martin Walser a swaggering, jaunty start in his big day. And for those of you who would like to swing along with him in your thoughts, jump right in.

 

Image of the Day

Dying easter eggs reuters
Getting ready for Easter: hard-boiled eggs getting colored on a production line at the Schloegl egg company in Drassmarkt, Austria. Source: Reuters
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