German Of The Day: Klassenbester

That means top of the class.

Nitrates

And that’s what Germany is when it comes to all things green and environmental and renewable and organic and… You get the picture, right? Well, that’s what I thought up until recently, too. Turns out they’re not very good at restricting the use of nitrates, though.

Germany ‘to be fined BILLIONS‘ for breaking EU environmental laws after ECJ ruling – The ECJ ruled that Germany breached a Brussels directive by failing to take enough action to tackle water pollution. The verdict by the EU’s highest court, based in Luxembourg, came after growing concerns about the levels of nitrates in German water. Nitrates are widely used as fertilisers, but the chemical can harm the environment and cause health risks through water pollution.

Der Europäische Gerichtshof in Luxemburg hat Deutschland wegen Verletzung von EU-Recht verurteilt, weil die Bundesregierung zu wenig gegen Nitrate im Grundwasser unternommen hat. Geklagt hatte die EU-Kommission.

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War Is Over! (f You Want It)

What? That was it? No more trade war hysteria? Just when it was starting to get interesting? What Luschen (duds).

EU

The Wall Street Journal reported that Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, has been in talks recently with the chief executives of German car makers BMW, Volkswagen and Daimler, where they pitched the idea of ending car tariffs between the U.S. and the EU.

During these talks, the executives said they would be in favor of scrapping these levies as part of a broader deal encompassing industrial goods, the Journal said.

“Germany has the right approach to resolving this trade disagreement among friends.”

Germany Preparing Itself To Lose The Next “Illegal” War

A Vicious Cycle – Berlin Worried about Losing Trump’s Trade War.

War

The U.S. has followed through with its threat to impose punitive tariffs on European steel and aluminum and the signs are pointing to a global trade war. The German government is doing what it can to prevent harm to its automobile industry.

… The German automotive industry would also be hard hit by a possible trade war with the U.S., where the most cars are sold in the world after China. German carmakers export around a half-million vehicles to the U.S. each year — particularly the kinds of expensive sedans that have been a thorn in Trump’s side for decades. If punitive tariffs are imposed, carmakers would likely have no choice but to react with higher prices and thus risk a decline in sales. VW subsidiary Porsche is especially at risk. Although the company sells almost a quarter of its vehicles in the country, it does not operate any factories of its own in the U.S.

“Germany stands to lose most.”

Trump To Follow Germany’s Lead

After Germany introduced a ban on German vehicles in the city of Hamburg today, President Donald Trump has announced plans to do the same in US-Amerika, as well. Sort of.

Trump

A report that U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to pursue German carmakers until there are no Mercedes-Benz rolling down New York’s Fifth Avenue dented shares in the luxury car manufacturers on Thursday.

An excerpt from German magazine Wirtschaftswoche’s article, which cited several unnamed European and U.S. diplomats but did not include any direct quotes, could not be independently verified, while a United States Embassy spokesman in Berlin referred questions to Washington.

The news and current affairs magazine said Trump had told French President Emmanuel Macron in April that he aimed to push German carmakers out of the United States altogether. Macron’s administration in Paris declined to comment on the report.

Eine harte Antwort wäre für die deutsche Wirtschaft riskant: US-Präsident Trump hat neben den Metall-Zöllen auch Zölle auf ausländische Autos ins Spiel gebracht.

What’s Wrong With The SPD?

First they roll out a foreign minister who talks tough to Russia and then they provide a finance minister who has trouble spending other people’s money.

Scholz

Damn. Maybe I could become a social democrat (bourgeois socialist), too.

Germany’s new Social Democrat finance minister, Olaf Scholz, is frustrating both key ally France and his own struggling center-left party by adopting the same fiscal rigor as his conservative predecessor, Wolfgang Schaeuble.

During his first two months as treasury chief of Europe’s largest economy, Scholz has committed to a continued goal of no new debt and limited public spending.

“We act pragmatically and properly – and do not worship a fetish (of fiscal conservatism).”

Coming This Fall?

The Fall of the German Empire.

Empire

The third German empire is a different animal altogether. Repudiating both militarism and racist mysticism, it has been built slowly and painstakingly across three generations, in cooperation with other powers (including its old enemies the French), using a mix of democratic and bureaucratic means. Today Germany bestrides its Continent, but German power is wielded softly, indirectly, implicitly — and when the fist is required, it takes the form of fiscal ultimatums, not military bluster or racial irredentism.

But still the system is effectively imperial in many ways, with power brokers in Berlin and Brussels wielding not-exactly-democratic authority over a polyglot, multiethnic, multireligious sprawl of semi-sovereign nation-states. And thinking about the European Union this way, as a Germanic empire as well as a liberal-cosmopolitan project, is a helpful way of understanding how it might ultimately fall…

Sounds great. Stay tuned or something. Netflix, right?

This Could Mean War Or Something

Tariff war. World War T. You know, the end of the world as we know it? Then it’s all over but the crying. And the Zombie Apocalypse. It’ll be  Zombie Apocalypse Now, so-to-speak.

Steel

Yawn.

Berlin holds little hope that the EU will be granted a further exemption from US metals tariffs beyond a May 1 deadline. Washington has offered the bloc a reprieve to speed up talks on a series of trade issues.

The German news agency DPA reported on Thursday that the upcoming meeting between Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Donald Trump — scheduled for the weekend — was unlikely to win the EU a further exemption from higher steel and aluminum tariffs planned by Washington.

Citing government sources, DPA said the Trump administration’s plans to impose a 25 percent tariff on steel and 10 percent on aluminum imports to the United States would likely come into effect on May 1.

But maybe something miraculous will happen at the absolutely very last second to hold off trade war Armageddon. Maybe it won’t. Hard to say for sure so be sure to stay tuned.

Bundesregierung befürchtet Handelskrieg mit den USA

That Was Close

Just in time, people. Brussels has just proudly and loudly announced that it plans to encourage and better protect whistleblowers in order to help them “bring light to scandals that would otherwise remain in the dark.” You know, like the Facebook thing, the Panama Papers, scandals like that. Or maybe like this one right down here?

EU

“Experts Strongly Suspect Corruption in the European Council.” Several members of the European Council are suspected of having taken bribes from Azerbaijan in exchange for political support.

Perfect. They really think these things through, don’t they? So now it’s time to step up to the plate and start shedding some light on this for us, European Council whistleblowers. But don’t worry. Brussels will protect you. Oh, I forgot. You are Brussels. Why, see? Then there’s even less for you to worry about.

“Es sollte keine Strafe dafür geben, das Richtige zu tun.”

In A Word: Yes

Is Germany Protecting Russia’s Gazprom From Latest Anti-Trust Discovery?

Gazprom

German companies like BASF and Wintershall may be successful at lobbying their government to keep the new Russian pipeline going, despite opposition from Washington. Such are the worries being made behind closed doors within the state owned Central and East European (CEE) gas companies that are no fans of Russia’s Gazprom.

On April 10, someone leaked the Statement of Objections against Gazprom from the European Union’s competition authority known as the Directorate-General for Competition (DG Comp). The leaked document was a 270-page report of abuse cases filed by nearly every Gazprom partner in eastern Europe, including Poland where the news first broke last week…

As Gazprom is responsible for nearly a third of all of Germany’s foreign gas supply, and because Germany has two big companies with money on the line with Gazprom projects, some believe Brussels is ready to let Gazprom off the hook from disputes with at least five countries.

“DG Comp is said to be pressured by some high-ranking German officials to make a soft deal with Gazprom so they can start building the new Nord Stream 2 pipeline.”

“Trump is awful but…”

“He’s right.”

Handelsbilanz

Uh-oh. All bets are off now. I may have found a German economist who is willing to take an unpopular stand and defend certain aspects of the Trump administration’s policy. Unpopular? Sacrilegious is more like it, right?

“On one side there’s the EU with a trade surplus that is mostly supplied by the huge German surplus. On the other side is the USA that has been living with deficits for 30 years. Germany is the world’s largest surplus country and the USA is the world’s largest deficit country. The trade practiced between these two national economies may be free but it is not efficient. This criticism of the German undervaluation strategy – that is, the relatively weak salary increases combined with a weak euro – has been around since presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Politicians in Congress have warned about making trade deals with notorious surplus countries. Trump is just the first one to do anything about it.”

“Every country can do whatever it wants – but not when it is part of a currency union in which there are no exchange rates that could be adjusted. Germany procures an advantage in global trade not just due to the quality of its products vis-a-vis its EU partners, the USA and other countries. In the past 15 years salaries in Germany have remained far behind productivity. We gain advantages over other national economies through wage dumping.”

“Will the punitive tariffs have a real effect on the German economy? Not so quickly. They have just been little needle pricks up until now. But if the EU now pursues the loud-mouth announcements made by Commission President Jean-Claud Juncker and reacts with its own punitive tariffs it is possible that the USA’s reaction will be more massive. Yet Trump is merely following a very simple rule here that no one in Germany wants to believe: The losers in such a trade conflict will be the trade surplus countries and the winners will be the deficit countries.”

Aber wenn die EU jetzt den großmäuligen Ankündigungen des EU-Kommissionspräsidenten Jean-Claude Juncker folgt und mit eigenen Strafzöllen reagiert, kann es sein, dass die USA noch massiver reagieren. Trump folgt doch einer einfachen Regel, die in Deutschland niemand wahr haben will: Verlieren werden in einem solchen Handelskonflikt die Handelsüberschussländer und gewinnen werden die Defizitländer.