Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has proven how easy it is to upend democracy with democratic methods. About 51 percent of Turks voted on Sunday in favor of his plan to rewrite the constitution, giving his clan even more power and the parliament much less. Particularly disturbing, support for Erdogan was high among Turks in Germany. In fact, 75 percent of those who voted in Essen cast their ballot for the autocrat’s biggest overhaul of modern Turkish politics. Chancellor Angela Merkel warned the Turkish government to respect European standards of democracy, given that Turkey is still officially a candidate for EU membership. But Manfred Weber, a member of the European Parliament, urged European leaders to “end the accession talks.” As if Erdogan really cared what Europe thinks after ramming through what he called Turkey’s “historic decision.”
A decade after getting booted as CEO of industrial giant Siemens, Klaus Kleinfeld has now got bumped again, by an activist investor. Yesterday he quit as boss of US aluminum maker Arconic. The best-known German executive in the United States, Kleinfeld resigned after a long struggle with billionaire Paul Singer whose hedge fund, Elliott Management, owns 13.2 percent of Arconic. Sringer belongs to that species of capitalist buccaneers who use plenty of cash and chutzpah to turn alleged management weaknesses into speculative gains. He may have won the fight to oust Kleinfeld but he now faces a tough battle to restore investor confidence in the American manufacturing icon.
US Vice President Mike Pence is on a 10-day Asian trip to spread messages of love from The Hill. After landing in Tokyo from a visit to South Korea, Pence hopes to convince Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that Donald Trump wants to boost US trade in the region even though the “America First” president has abandoned the 12-nation trans-Pacific trade pact. He also wants to assure his Asian partners of America’s commitment to rein in North Korea's nuclear and missile ambitions. Washington’s patience with Pyongyang is running out, he warned, with a helpful reminder about the “mother of all bombs” that America recently dropped on Afghanistan.
If German politicians had a say in France’s bizarre presidential election, most would pick Emmanuel Macron, the former Rothschild banker and economics minister. But that was before he mounted an unusually harsh attack on German exports. “Germany benefits from the imbalances within the euro zone and achieves very high trade surpluses; those aren’t good for Germany or the euro-zone economy,” the centrist candidate told Funke Mediengruppe in an interview published on Monday. What better way to score points against rival Marine Le Pen from the right-wing Front National than to do some Teuton-bashing ahead of their TV debate on Thursday.
Finance wonks, policymakers, economists and central-bank presidents are meeting this week in the Washington headquarters of the International Monetary Fund ahead of its spring summit. They expect a positive IMF assessment of emerging markets after six years of stagnation. China reports 6.9 percent economic growth and Brazil, Mexico and South Korean also show strong economic indicators. But what looks like a beacon of hope could be just a flash in the pan.
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