Morning Briefing Global Edition Achleitner Joins the Circus

The European Central Bank is getting more than it bargained for, and VW supervisory board chief Hans Dieter Pötsch is telling staff to tighten their belts while he loosens his two notches.
Animal spirits at Deutsche: The cats are starting to bear their teeth.

Just when you thought Republicans were the only ones getting personal, things have gotten ugly between the Democrats. Bernie Sanders’ wins have put extra swagger in his step, and he’s taking direct aim at Hillary Clinton, claiming she isn’t qualified to be president. There are a lot of ways to disqualify for the country’s highest office. An underhanded attack on your own party colleague is one of them.


Protocols published by the U.S. Federal Reserve reveal deep uncertainty about the future of our money. Some people, fearing a new bubble, want to tighten interest rate policy after years of flooding the markets with liquidity. Others warn of market turbulence if money becomes more expensive.

The crazy thing is: Both camps are probably right. The question isn’t whether things are going to spiral out of control, but when.


Depending on whom you ask, the ECB has done too much or too little to pull the euro zone out of its funk.

There are also two camps in Europe when it comes to our own central bank. Depending on whom you ask, the ECB has done too much or too little to pull the euro zone out of its funk.

The Frankfurt-based central bank has seen its job description morph from behind-the-scenes manager to crisis fighting superhero, monitoring bail-out programs, doling out emergency loans and propping up debt-ridden governments. But the bank is starting to get sick and tired of working overtime to pick up the slack.


A lot of people have been hurt by VW’s diesel emissions manipulation scandal – not least the company’s own rank-and-file, shareholders and customers. But one person isn’t feeling the pain: Supervisory board chief Hans Dieter Pötsch.

His shift last October from CFO to head of the supervisory board was sweetened with a juicy €10-million bonus – that’s €8.5 million more than his basic salary up to now.


And Pötsch finds that neither strange nor inappropriate. Since he didn’t ask for his elevation and has a contract valid until 2017, it’s only rational his base salary plus bonus should be paid out, he argues. Pötsch has agreed to forego his supervisory board pay for 2016 and 2017 so as not to double-dip. But somehow his rationale doesn’t fly.

His €10-million Dankeschön comes at a time when VW employees are being forced to tighten their belts. Péter Szijjártó, Hungary's foreign minister

Pötsch, as CFO, is one of the people responsible for VW’s crisis. Investigations into the role he played in the fiasco are ongoing. What’s more: His €10-million Dankeschön comes at a time when VW employees are being forced to tighten their belts. The very rational Pötsch fails to see that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, when it comes to sharing the pain. Never before has Volkswagen – literally, The People’s Car – been as far away from the people.


It’s not a mutiny yet, but Deutsche Bank’s big investors are starting to gripe – right now mostly about Paul Achleitner. In a WirtschaftsWoche interview, Deutsche Bank’s supervisory board chief didn’t take the kvetching sitting down. He defended his strategy and decision to hire John Cryan as new chief executive: “We were prepared.”

But as we know from John Maynard Keynes, financial markets aren’t driven by arguments but “animal spirits.” Viewed that way, Achleitner is the trainer and the beasts of prey are inching ever closer. They’re not biting yet, but they are starting to snarl.


My Handelsblatt Morning Briefing Global Edition is an e-mail newsletter sent to your inbox at around 6 a.m. each weekday Wall Street time. It gives you the most important news from Germany and Europe. To reach me: [email protected]