Sigmar Gabriel gave the government’s annual economic report to parliament today before stepping down as Social Democratic Party leader and economics minister. The well-tuned German economy is humming along. The number of employed will hit a record 43.8 million this year, with another 320,000 joining the workforce – thanks to our industrious, family-run businesses. Given all of the gloom of the past months, it’s time to celebrate and let the church bells ring. Please rise for our pope, who goes by the name of Mittelstand.
The U.S. economy has reason to celebrate too. The Dow Jones Industrial Average cleared the 20,000-point mark yesterday for the first time in its 120-year-old history. As we report today, Donald Trump is expected to stick with his policy of cheap American money to boost exports, which could also prompt billion-dollar investment transfers from bonds into shares. Brokers have already come up with a name for this: “The Great Rotation.”
Social Democrats will meet Sunday to elect Martin Schulz as their new chairman and chancellor candidate. Friends and foes of the struggling party are trolling old interviews for any insight into the political leanings of the former European Parliament president, a relative unknown in Germany after a career in Brussels. What they are finding is a classic tax-and-spender, with an affinity for raising public debt. He even wants to create new, direct revenue streams for the European Union, like an extra tax on consumers and new import levies. He doesn’t buy into the balanced-budget strategy of Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, which he views as unimaginative. You’ll recognize Martin Schulz by the holes burned through his pockets.
The energy sector is powering up again. Six years into its radical, forced transition into renewables, CEOs Johannes Teyssen of E.ON and Peter Terium of Innogy are calling on the government to give consumers a break. The reason: At least 54 percent of the price consumers pay for electricity comes from state-mandated fees for wind turbines and solar farms. With cigarette smoking – the traditional way to suck out tax revenue – on the decline, Berlin has attached itself to a more politically correct, one might say, sustainable, source of dough.
President Trump is sticking to his campaign promise to build a wall along the Mexican border to stem the flow of illegal immigrants entering the United States. He signed a decree yesterday to kick off the massive, 2,000-mile long project. There’s just one problem: The Mexicans are refusing to foot the multi-billion-dollar bill to pay for it. And that’s good. Mexico is a sovereign country, not a colony. The country sees itself as a partner, not a lackey. As Trump bellows “America first,” the Mexicans are responding: “No comprendo.”
Speaking of Trump, internet activist Sascha Lobo – the man with the red Mohawk – has called on Germans to reject the madness of America’s new president in his regular column in Spiegel Online. People need to guard themselves from false claims and “alternative facts” that threaten our democracy, he warned. “I believe pubic agitation is good for democracy’s immune system because it sets or clarifies political limits,” he wrote. You don’t need to dress like an old punk rocker to unconditionally agree.
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