Morning Briefing Global Edition

The Proverbial Hamster

Chancellor Angela Merkel is on her European Union tour, and she won’t stop until she’s dropped in on every government leader near and far. She isn’t following any program, but rather delivering an anodyne message: Europe lives on! She’s made sure to not encounter any E.U. critics along the way. Who needs reality when you’re floating on a boat off the coast of Italy with your friends?


Tomorrow, the government will adopt the first civil defense strategy since the Cold War, advising citizens to gather enough food and water to sustain themselves for two weeks in the event of Armageddon. Germans mocked the proposal on social media under the hashtag “Hamsterkaeufe,” meaning panic buying. Currently, the symbol of the Interior Ministry is an eagle. It should be a hamster. I would head to Berlin to change the plaque myself, but I have to get to the grocery store after work.


France’s Nicolas Sarkozy wants another run at the presidency, declaring via Twitter that “I felt I had the strength to lead this battle at a troubled time in our history,” which happens to be a quote from his new book, Everything for France. Conservatives can only hope they have the strength to stop this creampuff from getting the nomination in November. France needs a head of state, not a state-sponsored actor.


This morning, after 20 hours of negotiations, Volkswagen settled a dispute with two auto parts suppliers that had forced cutbacks at factories, reducing hours for 28,000 VW workers. In an email, VW said deliveries would resume, getting factories back up to production quotas. The automaker has come under fire for abusing its position as the biggest buyer of auto parts – it purchases €149 billion a year. But the backlash from suppliers forced the government to step in and admonish the carmaker. It’s a lesson for every auto industry procurement officer: Turn the screw too tight, and you’ll find yourself screwed.


Henkel shares have been riding high since the maker of adhesives, beauty and homecare products announced mid-year figures last week. The Düsseldorf-based manufacturer held to its forecast that earnings per share will increase by 8 to 11 percent this year, but some analysts are wary of the company’s focus on cost cuts and acquisitions to spur profit growth. So is Henkel stock under new CEO Hans Van Bylen a buy, a hold, or a portfolio dud?


In a confidential letter to the European Commission obtained by Handelsblatt, four European solar cell manufacturers have broken with their lobby group in favor of dropping tariffs. The companies claim anti-dumping tariffs are driving them into ruin by making it impossible to buy needed components. While the E.U. has been busy enacting trade barriers, China has pulled ahead of Germany as the biggest producer of solar technology. The lobbyists should take note: If you can’t handle heat from competition, get out of the solar business.


Image of the Day

Jane Barlow/Picture Alliance
Uniformed soldiers of the King of Norway’s Guard parade for inspection by their mascot, king penguin Nils Olaf, who was awarded a knighthood in 2008, as they announce the penguin’s promotion and new title of “Brigadier Sir Nils Olav.” Source: Jane Barlow/Picture Alliance
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