Just Like That Japanese Reactor

Not quite as dramatic, granted, but just like how Fukushima took down the nuclear power industry in Germany, all it takes is a collapsed highway bridge in Italy to suddenly put Germany’s bridge infrastructure in full tilt crisis mode. You gotta worry about something, after all.

Bridges

The latest reminder of the risks of aging infrastructure came Tuesday, when a highway bridge in Italy collapsed, killing at least 35 people. Germany is also exposed. Its once-envied network of roads, bridges and railways are decaying due to decades of underspending. The country has fallen to 15th in road quality behind Oman and Portugal, according to the World Economic Forum’s competitiveness rankings.

Autobahnbrücken in Deutschland – Jede achte Brücke in schlechtem Zustand.

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It’s Good To Be The Queen

Of extracting wealth from the rest of the European Union.

Merkel

While few European states can pretend to share Germany’s distinction of being a “country of poets and thinkers,” none can rival German abilities to extract so much wealth from the rest of the European Union.

Last year, Germany posted a 159.3 billion euro surplus on its goods trade with other countries in the EU — one of the world’s largest free-trade areas and a region with privileged access to German goods and services.

That’s the way it’s been since 1958, when Europe’s common market opened up.

Statistisches Bundesamt: Deutsche Exporte im Juni 2018 um 7,8% höher als im Vorjahr.

The Short Answer Is No

Not without nuclear energy.

If Germany Can’t Quit Coal, Can Anyone Else?

Coal

It would seem like a major step toward Prime Minister Angela Merkel’s goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent of 1990 totals by 2020. But German utilities just can’t seem to quit burning coal. Some power plants are switching to cheaper imported black coal from the United States, Russia, or Colombia. And at the same time, Germany is also digging more lignite, or brown coal. Lignite is 50 percent water and yields much less energy than the shiny black anthracite. But lignite is easy to bulldoze from massive strip mines that dot Germany’s northwest and eastern border with Poland. Among Europe’s power plants, Germany’s brown coal stations constitute six out of 10 of the worst polluters.

“It’s like organizing your own funeral.”

 

Soyprise Soyprise

Just when you thought they soyrendered… The trade relationship between the United States and Europe is improving, German Agriculture Minister Julia Kloeckner said on Saturday, but there is no guarantee the bloc will buy the quantity of soybeans that Washington expects.

Soy

U.S. President Donald Trump and Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, the EU’s executive body, struck a surprise deal on Wednesday that ended the risk of an immediate trade war between the two powers.

After the talks, Trump highlighted benefits for U.S. farmers. “The European Union is going to start, almost immediately, to buy a lot of soybeans,” he told reporters.

Kloeckner, speaking to Reuters on the sidelines of a G20 meeting in Buenos Aires, said the amount of soy Europe will import is yet to be determined.

“Will we be able to do whatever President Trump wishes for? I don’t know. Let’s see whether this will be the case or not,” she said.

Soy its back to the drawing board, folks. We’ve got another European insoyrection on our hands. Yup, another resoygence of European protectionism. But if they want a trade war then their destruction is assoyed. We’ll see who has the better chance of soyvival.

Germans Outraged That Trump Would Not Go To War For Montenegro

The Germans certainly would.

Trump

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.

These people kill me sometimes. Figuratively speaking.

Montenegro, a former Yugoslav republic with a population of about 630,000, joined NATO last year, becoming is 29th member. Its military only numbers about 2,000 personnel.

The only time Article 5 was ever invoked was by America after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks conducted by al-Qaeda.

Für ein kleines Land wie Montenegro in den Krieg ziehen? Donald Trump hat in einem Interview Zweifel an der Bündnistreue der USA innerhalb der Nato gesät. Der US-Präsident machte eine vielsagende Andeutung.

One Million Dollars!

No, wait a second. I mean… Five billion dollars!

One million dollars

The European Union hit Alphabet Inc.’s Google with a record antitrust fine of €4.34 billion ($5.06 billion) and ordered changes to its business that could loosen the company’s grip on its biggest growth engine: mobile phones.

In the EU’s sharpest rebuke yet to the power of a handful of tech giants, the bloc’s antitrust regulator found Wednesday that Google had abused the dominance of its Android operating system, which runs more than 80% of the world’s smartphones, to promote and entrench its own mobile apps and services, particularly the company’s search engine…

As part of the decision, the EU ordered Google to cease requirements that push phone makers to pre-install Google’s web browser Chrome, make Google the default search engine on their phones, and offer payments for exclusively pre-installing Search.

“Today’s decision rejects the business model that supports Android, which has created more choice for everyone, not less.”

German Of The Day: Zusage

That means pledge – like the one Germany just made (increase in defense spending to 2% by 2024 instead of 2028 or 2030).

Zusage

President Donald Trump appeared to declare victory on Thursday in his battle with America’s closest allies to get them to contribute more money to the NATO alliance. Mr. Trump acknowledged that he had taken a tough stance with his European counterparts, demanding they contribute more of their national budgets to defense and saying after Thursday’s meetings, “they upped their commitments and I am very happy…”  

Under fire for his warm embrace of Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Mr. Trump on Wednesday turned a harsh spotlight on Germany’s own ties to Russia, alleging that a natural gas pipeline venture with Moscow has left Angela Merkel’s government “totally controlled” and “captive” to Russia.

Auch Deutschland habe große Zusagen gemacht – das Zwei-Prozent-Ziel solle nun wesentlich früher erreicht werden als ursprünglich geplant – laut Trump nicht erst 2028 oder 2030, sondern schon 2024.

The Berlin Airlift

No, not this one. This one.

Iran

Iranian Plan to ‘Airlift $350 Million’ From Germany to Tehran Sparks U.S. Anger

The U.S. ambassador to Germany has called on Berlin to block an Iranian plan to withdraw 300 million euros ($350 million) of cash from bank accounts in Germany to offset the effect of new U.S. financial sanctions imposed after Washington withdrew from a 2015 nuclear deal.

This comes after Washington recently announced new sanctions on Iran and ordered all countries to stop buying Iranian oil by November and foreign firms to stop doing business there or face U.S. blacklists.

Der Iran will 300 Millionen Euro in Deutschland loseisen und per Flieger heimholen. Die USA und Israel sind nicht erfreut.

Robust Export Growth?

German exports rebounded in May, providing more evidence of a strengthening of the economy in the second quarter.

Export

Yeah, I guess that’s true. If you forget the exports last month to one particular country. Those have dropped 10% for some inexplicable reason. But I’m sure that will pick up again real soon, right?

Despite ongoing trade tensions, German exports did what they normally do: grow. In May exports increased by 1.8% MoM, from -0.3% in April. At the same time, imports increased by 0.7% MoM, from 2.6% MoM in April. As a result, the trade surplus narrowed somewhat, from EUR20.1bn to EUR19.7bn.

“Die Verunsicherung durch die Einführung von Importzöllen seitens der USA und die Gegenmaßnahmen der EU und Chinas machen sich direkt bei den Unternehmen bemerkbar.”

When Had We Left The Jungle?

I wasn’t aware that we had.

Jungle

WTO Faces Existential Threat in Times of Trump -U.S. President Donald Trump has set his sights squarely on the World Trade Organization in Geneva. Even its critics are worried that without the organization, the world of trade would revert to the law of the jungle.

The U.S. and other industrialized nations made several concessions to developing economies when the WTO was founded in 1995 and significantly reduced their tariffs. In return, they were able to push through stronger protections for intellectual property. They hoped that the strategy would help slow China’s rise.

But from the U.S. perspective, the system has not been beneficial. And once China joined the WTO in 2001, that dissatisfaction only grew, partly because the Chinese proved adept at taking advantage of the rules. Even today, there is significant dissent within the WTO because the economic superpower China is still classified as a “developing nation” by the organization, which gives it certain privileges. On the other hand, China is fighting for recognition as a market economy, to which both the U.S. and the European Union are opposed because it would mean they could no longer defend themselves against state-subsidized Chinese exports with anti-dumping duties.

On top of all that, the WTO is facing a more fundamental problem: its size and its sluggishness. Negotiating rounds focused on removing tariffs have become increasingly complex. And because everything is up for negotiation at the same time, every member state can paralyze the process by simply exercising its veto. The Doha Round, launched in 2001, is a perfect example: It never achieved any results and has become symbolic of the WTO’s failure.

“The problems are coming from the behavior of a single country that would like to return to the jungle.”