Polls show that only 24 percent of Germans would vote for the Social Democrats now. And as a result, the inner-party contest to become its chancellor candidate in 2017 has been a laid-back affair. Potential hopefuls Olaf Scholz and Andrea Nahles are waiting for the post-Merkel era; Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier wants to be federal president, a largely titular post. So yesterday, when Social Democrat Party chief and Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel spoke the words, “Of course I want to be the chancellor candidate,” he was showing his valor. Now Merkel has to rule another two years with her biggest challenger. These days the scenery in Berlin feels a lot like the 1991 Julia Roberts movie “Sleeping with the Enemy.”
Today is John Cryan’s big moment. This morning, the new co-CEO of Deutsche Bank presented his Strategy 2020, a plan to lead the bank back to health and relevance in five years. Not only will dividends be slashed for 2015 and 2016. There will be massive job cuts: 20,000 at retail unit Postbank – which is being spun off – 9,000 at Deutsche Bank and 6,000 at key service providers. Germany’s biggest bank will also be closing operations in 10 countries including Mexico, Argentina and Finland. It looks like Cryan isn’t one to simply rearrange the furniture. He’s a man who likes to start from a clean slate.
The diesel emissions scandal has led Volkswagen to its first quarterly loss in more than 15 years. Given the sky-high compensation claims and imminent fines, the €1.7 billion loss after taxes reported yesterday was just the start for Germany’s biggest company. Now VW CEO Matthias Müller wants to give the management a facelift to drive his cultural revolution. What does his executive of the future look like? She’s young, female and international. Find out what else Müller has planned in today’s Handelsblatt Global Edition.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has started preparing the public for more government spending amid the refugee crisis. The ruling national coalition is already expecting €10 billion in additional costs per year. The good news: A tax hike isn’t likely. The bad news: a debt hike is. The reality: A bigger national debt will mean higher taxes and a political bill that will come due for the next government administration.
Nothing new at chemicals giant Bayer: The quarterly figures reported today again showed rising sales and profit: Net profit in the quarter climbed 20.9 percent to €999 million. If the heads of the 30 companies in Germany’s benchmark DAX Index were a school class, Bayer CEO Marijn Dekkers would be teacher’s pet. It would be nice if everyone would copy off of his test.
Barbara Broccoli, the producer of James Bond films, came to the Austrian ski resort Sölden last year for a spot to shoot the new Bond movie “Spectre.” And with his cable cars and mountain-top restaurant, local businessman Jakob Falkner was looking for the next big thing for Sölden. Soon, a crew of 400 and Bond actor Daniel Craig descended on the village. Now Falkner hopes to cash in on the 007 hype. You probably won’t have to twist arms to get tourists to vacation in an alpine paradise. The most difficult thing will be teaching them to say “shaken, not stirred” in German. (Answer for the ambitious: geschüttelt, nicht gerührt.)
The Handelsblatt Morning Briefing Global Edition is an e-mail newsletter sent to your inbox at around 6 a.m. Wall Street time. It gives you the most important news from Germany and Europe, commented by Handelsblatt Publisher Gabor Steingart.