Morning Briefing Deutsche Bank’s Receding Hairline

All Deutsche Bank CEO John Cryan could offer investors yesterday was a contrite apology for the misdeeds of predecessors: What’s important right now in Germany are not partisan games and petty fights, but true reforms.

All Deutsche Bank CEO John Cryan could offer investors yesterday was a contrite apology for the misdeeds of predecessors that have cost the bank billions in fines and settlements. Maybe that and the fact the bank cut its loss to €1.4 billion in 2016 after a record €6.8 billion minus the year before helped avoid an outright panic. Everything is relative, of course. Five strands of hair in your soup are too many; five on your head, too few.

Chancellor Angela Merkel is meeting today with E.U. government leaders at a summit in Malta, just off the African coast. Officially, the talks are about the refugee crisis and Brexit. But the main topic, no doubt, will be about a person not even there: President Donald Trump. Maybe he’ll join the debate via Twitter.

Merkel, a trained physicist, hopes the forces of compression start working on the West thanks to Trump. Compression occurs when stress decreases the volume of a substance. Politically speaking, the loosely drifting European Union could be compressed as the United States drifts apart. Our hope is disguised in this case as a law of nature.

Lavish boardroom salaries and payments are always controversial in Germany. What’s new this year is the hit parade of millionaires is led by a member of the Social Democratic Party, a traditional foe of capitalist excess. Christine Hohmann-Dennhardt, a former state justice minister and until last month VW’s board member for compliance, bailed with a golden parachute of nearly €13 million -- after just 13 months on the job. The goodbye gift was approved by Lower Saxony State Premier Stephan Weil, a fellow SPD lawmaker and member of VW’s supervisory board, who represents his state’s 20-percent stake. So far no outcry from SPD headquarters in Berlin. Martin Schulz, the SPD’s new chairman and chancellor hopeful, you have call waiting.

Speaking of campaigning, Schulz, Merkel and their Social Democrat and Christian Democrat colleagues, are exchanging the first jabs in what could become a boisterous battle to federal elections in September. Our weekend feature “Germany: What Needs to be Done Now” is a reminder that what’s important right now are not partisan games and petty fights, but true reforms. The list is long, from health care and education to immigration. We outline what’s in the nation’s in-box – a must read for those wanting to reboot Germany.

Journalist and activist Mareike Nieberding made a persuasive plea for civic engagement on last night’s Maybrit Illner show, one of the nation’s most-watched TV talk programs. Nieberding’s “Demo” call is nothing less than a modern protest poem: “I’m establishing a youth movement. I know that you don’t launch a movement but rather it becomes one or is one. But I don’t want to wait. I’m going to leapfrog the phase of becoming and proclaim the here and now.”

China and the whole of Asia are increasingly important trade partners for German industry. A prominent list of experts will debate the risks and opportunities that lie there next Tuesday at Handelsblatt’s Asia Business Insights Conference in Düsseldorf. Headliners include Stuart Gulliver, the CEO of HSBC, the leading bank in Europe, Henkel CEO Hans Van Bylen, Günter Butschek, the head of India’s Tata Motors, as well as the former German foreign minister, Joschka Fischer. I’ve set aside 10 cards for readers. If you want to enter the competition for a spot, write to me at: [email protected]

 

Image of the Day

Hundreds of thousands took to the streets yesterday in Bucharest, Romania, protesting against a government decree that will decriminalize some corruption offenses.