Category Archives: Germany

Der Spiegel Editorial: Time for Europe to Join the Resistance

Edel Rodriguez designs the latest cover for Der Spiegel after Trump’s Iran decision. The magazine editorial runs as follows:

Trump’s renown is rooted in American hero myths. Trump says that women like Carla Bruni lust after him, something that women like Carla Bruni vehemently deny. Trump says he is exorbitantly rich, yet Trump ran himself into the ground with his casinos to the point that he was 295 million dollars in debt in 1990. He was bailed out by the banks and by his father. The greatest myth, though, has to do with Trump’s alleged negotiating expertise. This too is nonsense. Trump was never proficient in the art of the deal. As a businessman, he paid far too much for substandard properties and has shown no patience as a politician. He isn’t curious. His preparation is nonexistent. Strategy and tactics are both foreign to him. Trump is only proficient in destruction. And that’s what he does.

Read the rest here

The German incitement to hatred, the Turkish Referendum and the political realities of European neoliberalism

This centre spread in the BILD newspaper led the German, Austrian and Dutch media onslaught telling Turkish voters to vote NO in their referendum on constitutional change (in both German and Turkish). A YES vote would see a separation of legislative and executive powers in Turkish governance, both currently in the gift of the Prime Minister’s Office, and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan would thus consolidate his presidency. BILD, owned by the media giant Axel Springer, is the largest circulation newspaper anywhere outside East Asia.

The question has to be asked why this newspaper told Turkish voters that the founder of their new Republic, Mustafa Kemal “Atatürk” (pictured) would have voted NO in this referendum. Read full article here. A short version is also available on openDemocracy here.

Bundesbank defends cash

The world’s governments, central banks, fintech firms, banks, credit card companies, telecommunication behemoths, financial institutions, large retailers, all are behind a drive to get rid of cash.

The idea supposedly is to combat crime and terrorism. But widespread public ignorance, apathy, and disinterest is allowing this drive to a 100% electronic world to take place. This would endanger basic freedoms and attack the ability of the poor and the uncreditworthy to manage their lives.

But Carl-Ludwig Thiele, Bundesbank board member in charge of cash issues, said in a speech last week that “I have my doubts that introducing a cash limit or getting rid of bigger denominations can really prevent terrorists or criminals from engaging in illegal activities. We also should ask ourselves: what sort of an understanding of government forms the basis of these proposals? Citizens should not be put under general suspicion.” Clearly there is a commitment to democracy here.

In fact, the promoters of the cashless society are in error when they argue that people don’t want to use cash. In its own study prominently featured on its homepage, the Bundesbank found that despite all the media hype over the demise of cash, physical currencies still remain the principal means of payments across many advanced economies.

In the study, more than 18,500 consumers in Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States were asked to keep a written record of what payment methods they used. It turns out that consumers still frequently opt for cash at the point of sale, although in some countries there is a greater preference than in others.

In terms of volume, cash accounted for more than 50% of payment transactions in all of these countries, with the exception of the US. In Germany (DE) and Austria (AT) over 80% of cash transactions were made using cash. In both countries, cash payments also dominated in value. A separate study by the Association of German Banks found that even among millennials, two-thirds prefer paying in cash to electronic means.

What is crucial isn’t so much the numbers but the very fact that the Bundesbank publishes this type of report so prominently, and in English, so that everyone can read it. It’s an obvious part of its campaign to keep cash-in-fist alive as a choice. And in Germany and Austria, the EU’s plans to suppress cash have already provoked a backlash.

Germany’s big tabloid The Bild published a scathing open letter titled, “Hands Off Our Cash,” while a broad spectrum of political parties condemned the proposed measures as an attack on data protection and privacy.

The fact that Europe’s most powerful national central bank is now firmly aligned with the defenders of physical cash could be a vital game changer in the war against cash.