Turkey is plagued by a wave of purges not seen in Europe since the time of Stalin. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has dismissed about 60,000 public servants – 13,000 have been detained. Freedom of the press is de facto extinguished: 16 TV stations, 23 radio stations and 45 newspapers are shuttered. We know now that the coup in Turkey is far from a failure – it’s in full swing, and with Europe’s – and Merkel’s – blessing. The European Union is the largest buyer of Turkish goods, and Turkey does its banking in London, Paris and Frankfurt. And Merkel? She stays silent and pays the billions, hoping the refugee deal with Erdogan will hold. Right now she’s a woman with two faces: our chancellor, and his collaborator. Grab your coffee and settle in for our big weekend read.
The government yesterday announced a litany of new security measures in response to two terror attacks by refugees. The interior minister’s 16-point proposal includes faster deportations and cuts to benefits and visas for any troublemakers. Plans for a new cyber unit were also unveiled. The security package will cost a pretty penny, but you can’t put a price on safety with elections just around the corner.
You can put a price on saving, though. Since the spring, the European Central Bank has charged banks 0.4 percent to park money with them, with the aim of forcing financial institutions to lend more. Taboos seldom come alone, and now for the first time German cooperative bank Raiffeisenbank Gmund will start charging private customers negative interest rates. If the goal is getting Germans to ditch their thrifty ways, then the ECB has made all the right moves.
A telecoms tussle ensued yesterday between Deutsche Telekom, which released solid quarterly figures, and Vodafone, who subsequently put out a press release trumpeting its mobile market growth in its German subsidiary. Vodafone is boasting 41.8 million mobile customers here, while Telekom has 41.1 million. Nonetheless, Deutsche Telekom chief Timotheus Höttges yesterday stressed he saw no evidence of rising market competition. Maybe it’s time to get his eyes checked.
Need a good reference book on Germany’s small- and medium-sized business sector? Then get your copy of “The Best of German Mittelstand” now, because it will soon become a rare find. The publishing house Deutsche Standards, which chugged out English-language material on German business, is filing for bankruptcy. Florian Langenscheidt, the scion of the Munich-based Langenscheidt publishing family, is hunting for buyers after 13 years at the helm.
Brexit, attacks on free trade and Germany’s own noisy populists are the latest signs of a global backlash against open borders. No major economy is as dependent on access to foreign markets as Germany – nor stands to lose so much if protectionism wins. Our magazine article, “How Vulnerable is Germany,” debates the future of the economic model of Europe’s largest economy.
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