Morning Briefing

Trump in a Box

The separation of powers works in America. Not only the media, but the courts and Congress are keeping President Donald Trump in check (see Time magazine’s cover.) A bipartisan committee investigating Russian meddling in the U.S. election is following the trail of Trump’s campaign team back to Moscow. Trump’s most-dangerous foe of the moment is Paul Ryan, the Republican House chairman. Both have a real stake in the outcome. The 46-year-old from Wisconsin can only begin his political ascent when Trump ends his.

Trump’s foreign policy is under the microscope today as the Munich Security Conference begins. German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen and U.S. counterpart James Mattis open the three-day event.  Thirty government leaders and 80 defense ministers will occupy the noble Hotel Bayerischer Hof. Trump has sent Vice President Mike Pence to explain the unexplainable to Europeans. Handelsblatt Editor in Chief Sven Afhüppe and a team of three reporters are there to take the pulse of the trans-Atlantic partnership. Is that erratic beat a serious fibrillation or just high blood pressure? They will give us their diagnosis via Twitter, Facebook and handelsblatt.com.

The planned sale of GM unit Opel to Peugeot-Citroën is stressing German-French joie de vivre. The reason: More than 18,000 Opel jobs in Germany are on the line. State Secretary Matthias Machnig of the German economics ministry has been sent to mediate between French, German and U.S. interests. The former SPD executive director and campaign veteran may not be Germany’s top auto expert, but he knows what to do when blue-collar jobs are on the line. For him, it’s Germany First.

When it comes to Dieselgate, Lower Saxony premier and VW supervisory board member Stephan Weil knows that offense is the best defense. In a Handelsblatt interview, Weil accused VW shareholder and patriarch Ferdinand Piëch of lying when Piëch alleged that Weil knew about the emissions-rigging scandal long before he let on. In our interview, Weil questions Piëch’s sense of responsibility. We’re not sure how Piëch spends his days, but we bet he’ll definitely read this interview. That will not be a fun read.

You’d think if anyone in the world today shouldn’t be worried, it’s the Germans, with an economy purring like a cat, the envy of most of Europe. But surprisingly, they are. In our Big Read today, Handelsblatt editors and Renate Köcher, the CEO of the Allensbach market research institute, explain why even widespread prosperity can’t seem to quell good ole German angst.

Allianz shares surged this morning after the insurer last night delivered €10.8 billion in operating profit – as promised – in 2016. CEO Oliver Bäte also rewarded shareholders with a €3-billion share buyback offer, a first of its kind by the Munich insurer. Investors applauded his generosity and Allianz shares were the biggest gainer in early-morning trading on the DAX. These days, shares of Allianz are the only sedative not sold in a drug store. They require no prescription and have no side effects other than wealth appreciation.

The city of Karlsruhe in southwestern Germany opened its outdoor swimming pools today to the public, the first municipality to do so. Temperature: 8 degrees Celcius (47 degrees Fahrenheit). “We don’t care about the weather; we’ve swum with snow coming down,” said Oliver Sternagel, who manages the city’s pools. In this water world, shivering is a sign of weakness. Or the ultimate expression of optimism.

Image of the Day

02-17
Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday appeared as witness at a parliamentary committee investigating spying activities of U.S. National Security Agency in Germany and Europe and the role of the German Federal Intelligence Service. Source: Bernd von Jutrczenka/DPA
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