Tag Archives: Germany

Dailies and Weeklies, a project of Raul Marroquin for “Inside the City” Weserburg Museum für moderne Kunst, Bremen July 18 – October 12 2015.

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Europe’s biggest fear

It’s been a week since shares in Bankia plummeted on reports, later denied, that customers were pulling deposits out of the Spanish lender. Fears of a full-scale bank run in Greece have not yet materialised. But the possibility of a deposit run in Europe’s peripheral states is still very much alive. It is also the thing that policymakers are least prepared for. 

As with most aspects to the euro crisis, the usual answers are not much help. One tactic is to show customers the money. Old hands of emerging-market bank runs talk of how they used to pile cash up in full view of panicking customers so that they could see how well stocked the banks were with money. The equivalent now is to let the central bank provide enough liquidity that the ATMs always spit out cash. But if the idea is to get your hands on euros today in case of a currency redenomination tomorrow, then you will still want it out of the bank and under the mattress.

Another response to runs is to calm worries about the solvency of specific institutions by beefing up the scale of deposit guarantees. In the first phase of the crisis, which now seems almost innocent in its simplicity, that is what governments did. But that makes the problem worse, not better, if government solvency is at the root of the problem.

The logical solution, as we argue this week, is to set up a joint deposit-guarantee scheme, in which euro-zone states pool resources to provide credible reassurance that depositors across the zone will get their money back, up to a harmonised threshold of €100,000 ($125,000). To get around the redenomination risk, the guarantee would have to be a promise to repay the original value of the deposit in euros.

The problem, as analysts have noted this week, is that even if the political will to realise this end existed (which is highly questionable), it would take a long time to negotiate an agreement. There are all sorts of fiddly details for Eurocrats to get their teeth into. Should the scheme be prefunded? Should depositors be preferred creditors, or behind the ECB in the queue? What supervisory arrangements are needed to ensure that creditor nations have sufficient oversight of the deposit-taking institutions they now insure in peripheral countries? And that is before you get into the rigmarole of ratifying agreements.

The trouble with this is that there is a horrible, insoluble mismatch between the timescales to which Europe’s policymakers work and the timescale of a bank run. A run is most likely within the next few weeks. And if a run starts, Europe’s governments will have to reassure within a matter of hours. You might just about get a communiqué from Brussels in that timeframe, but could it really reassure when so many questions are unanswered?

If it does not, then the run will continue until such time as the banks close their doors to further withdrawals or the central banks have satisfied depositors’ demand for cash. The former means trapping depositors inside a system they do not trust. The latter means providing liquidity to a banking system that has been abandoned by its own citizens. It would be hard to come back from either position.

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Invitation: Joan Casellas in Germany

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In Rebuke to Merkel’s Party, Social Democrats Win German Vote

BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party suffered a stinging defeat in Germany’s most populous state, one likely to embolden her opposition both at home and abroad as the European debt crisisenters a critical new phase.

One week after Socialists seized the French presidency, the Social Democrats won the parliamentary election in North Rhine-Westphalia, early results and exit polls released Sunday showed. Norbert Röttgen, the lead candidate for Ms. Merkel’s Christian Democrats in the state, conceded defeat and said he would be stepping down as the head of the party there.

Exit polls for German public television showed the Social Democrats winning 38.9 percent of the vote, an increase of 4.4 percentage points from two years earlier. While the results were not official, the party was likely to achieve a double-digit margin of victory. The Christian Democrats won just 26.3 percent of the vote, 8.3 percentage points less than in the previous election.

“This is a bitter day for us,” Mr. Röttgen told supporters. “We have suffered a clear and decisive defeat.”

He attempted in his concession speech to shoulder the blame, calling it “my loss” as a result of “my campaign, my themes,” but the ramifications went far beyond the borders of the state.

With the Green Party’s 11.8 percent of the vote, analysts say Hannelore Kraft, the Social Democratic state premier, will be able to form a left-wing coalition to govern the state with ease.

Mr. Röttgen ran against the debt-financed spending supported by Ms. Kraft, and even described the vote as a referendum on Ms. Merkel’s Europe policies. Ms. Merkel has pressed debt-ridden European partners to pursue the path of harsh austerity policies even in the midst of recession.

The voters instead handed his opponent a significant victory. “We made people the central focus again,” Ms. Kraft told supporters Sunday evening.

The strong showing for Ms. Kraft and the Social Democrats, as well as what the German news media described as a “debacle” and a “disaster” for the conservatives, sends a clear signal that Ms. Merkel could face a difficult road to re-election.

With nearly 18 million inhabitants, the state is home to more than one of every five Germans. A major defeat here for the Social Democrats in 2005 helped pave the way for the defeat of Ms. Merkel’s predecessor, Gerhard Schröder, and her own rise to chancellor of Germany.

The result vaults Ms. Kraft, 50, a plain-spoken politician from the industrial Ruhr Valley, into the top rank of German politicians, prompting speculation that she might be the strongest candidate to lead the party against Ms. Merkel and potentially succeed her as chancellor.

“Queen of Hearts of the S.P.D.,” read a headline on the Web site of the newspaper Die Welt, referring to the Social Democrats by the party’s German acronym. Ms. Kraft is known as being down to earth and close to the people, still living in her hometown, Mülheim. Her party hopes she can help repeat the success on the national level, to Ms. Merkel’s detriment.

Ms. Merkel’s party has performed poorly in numerous recent state elections. Just one week ago the Christian Democrats were ousted from power in Germany’s northernmost state, Schleswig-Holstein. The next federal election is scheduled for September 2013, but the recent defeats have led commentators to ask whether Ms. Merkel could be forced into an early election.

Voters across Europe have expressed their displeasure with Ms. Merkel’s path, punishing the mainstream parties in Greece that signed the country’s loan agreement with foreign creditors, which required deep spending cuts. In France’s presidential election, François Hollande defeated President Nicolas Sarkozy, Ms. Merkel’s close ally, in part by rejecting the German focus on austerity and promising more pro-growth policies.

Ms. Merkel has ruled out any renegotiation of the fiscal compact signed in March. Mr. Hollande will travel to Berlin on Tuesday after his inauguration to meet with Ms. Merkel to discuss the path forward for the Continent in crisis. The success of the Social Democrats in Germany could well give Mr. Hollande confidence in the difficult negotiations.

“This will also strengthen us in Berlin,” said Andrea Nahles, general secretary of the Social Democratic Party, on German public television.

Peter Altmaier, the parliamentary leader of the Christian Democratic Union, also known as the C.D.U., called it “an extremely difficult day for the C.D.U. in North Rhine-Westphalia but also as a whole,” and a defeat that “surpasses our worst fears.”

Even as the Christian Democrats tried to come to terms with the magnitude of their defeat, their coalition partners in Berlin, the pro-business Free Democrats, celebrated a remarkable turnaround. Before last week’s election in Schleswig-Holstein the party was in the midst of a catastrophic slide, failing to reach even the 5 percent threshold for representation in five of the last six state elections. Analysts had begun to call the party’s very existence into question.

Building on a strong showing in Schleswig-Holstein, the party and its popular young leader in North Rhine-Westphalia, Christian Lindner, surpassed all expectations, winning 8.3 percent of the vote. “Staying true to your principles is a virtue and a sign of character,” Mr. Lindner said after the results were announced.

The Pirates, written off as a fringe party before their first success in Berlin last year, then as an urban phenomenon, won 7.8 percent on Sunday, enough to enter the state Parliament in Düsseldorf for the fourth election in a row. After it won the seats, there could be no denying that the party had established itself as a force in the political landscape in Germany.

Left-wing voters feared that the Pirates would draw so many votes that the Social Democrats and the Greens would be unable to form a government. For the past two years Ms. Kraft ruled with a minority government, forced to draw votes from left or right to pass every piece of legislation. But voters expressed their trust in Ms. Kraft, giving the Social Democrats and the Greens enough votes for an absolute majority.

Via NYtimes.com

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Auf Wiedersehen, Mon Ami – Foreign Policy (by Benjamin Weinthal)

If the results of the latest elections are any indication, Europeans will elect anyone from communists to fascists if they promise to fight German Chancellor Angela Merkel over the financial austerity measures she has imposed on the eurozone.

French Socialist François Hollande rode to victory on a wave of popular dissatisfaction on Sunday, May 6, defeating President Nicolas Sarkozy, a close ally of Merkel. “You did not resist Germany,” Hollande declared in a televised debate late last week, accusing Sarkozy of acquiescing to German economic measures that require France and other EU states to make deep, painful cuts to their social welfare spending.

Hollande now joins the collapsed Dutch government of Prime Minister Mark Rutte — which unraveled in late April over resistance to economic belt-tightening — to deliver a one-two austerity punch to Germany. Compounding Merkel’s political isolation on Sunday, May 6, voters knocked her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) out of a governing coalition in a regional election. Although the CDU secured the most votes in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein, it was the party’s worst electoral performance since 1950.

In a shot across the Rhine, Hollande declared in his victory speech in the small southwestern French town of Tulle that “austerity is no longer inevitable.”

Yet for all his bluster, Hollande likely won’t be able to impose radical change on Europe’s core economics. The powerful German economy has kept the euro afloat as Greece, Italy, Spain, and other countries have drawn perilously close to the brink of collapse. Its manufacturing and exports businesses remain the engine of European prosperity.

Under the fiscal treaty Merkel advanced this year, EU member states are required to ensure that their “deficits do not exceed 3 percent of their gross domestic product at market prices” and must maintain strict limits on government debt. The treaty goes to great lengths — with corrective measures and potential legal action against member states — to prevent a repeat of a Greek-style economic meltdown.

On Sunday, however, Hollande promised a “new start for Europe,” spelling a possible wholesale revision of the fiscal treaty. All this has investors (and speculators) worried: His victory on Sunday, along with the weekend’s anti-austerity Greek election results, prompted the euro to sink to an eye-popping almost-five-month low of $1.2988.

All this helps explain Gideon Rachman’s recent Financial Timescommentary, “No Alternative to Austerity,” in which he notes that France is “a country where the state already consumes 56 per cent of gross domestic product, which has not balanced a budget since the mid-1970s, and which has some of the highest taxes in the world.”

Of course, this is all anathema to the rule-abiding Germans. In 2003, Merkel’s predecessor, Social Democratic Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, introduced his Agenda 2010, a sort of watered-down version of U.S. President Bill Clinton’s “welfare-to-work” program, which cut taxes, unemployment benefits, and other social welfare programs. The reforms brought German unemployment down from over 5 million in 2005 to 2.8 million today. Merkel has since led the way in imposing similar discipline across the eurozone, and Sarkozy has helped her.

“Europe must be pulled out of paralysis,” declared Sarkozy on his first presidential visit to Berlin after his May election victory nearly five years ago, urging the German leader to join him and “take the initiative.” Merkel reciprocated, culminating in a political alliance to retain EU unity and eventually impose robust fiscal discipline on the 17 eurozone countries. The unlikely and oft-quoted fusion of these two leaders — Merkozy — advanced an ambitious plan to prevent the European Union from fragmenting.

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Approximately 200 international galleries will showcase Classic Modern, Post-War and Contemporary art at the 46th Edition of ART COLOGNE

Visual

The ART COLOGNE 2012 will have again a lot to offer, with a top-notch supporting program. Here you find a short overview about the different activities. Find more details here.

Vernissage

The Vernissage will be open on 17 April 2012, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. in hall 11. The tickets will cost 46,75 € advanced sale and 55,00 € at the box-office. Order your tickets for the Vernissage directly in the Art Cologne’s Ticket Shop.

Friday 20. April 2012

On Friday, 20th April, the following events will be held at the Belgian House:

  • At 5:00 p.m. visitors are invited to attend MANIFESTA 9, where they will be offered initial insights into the individual aspects of the project. The organizers will also take this opportunity to announce the list of participating artists.The presentation in Cologne is part of the Manifesta 9 Parallel Events and is being curated by Edgar Hermann, who is responsible for Manifesta 9’s Heritage section.

    Armand Marchal, Consul of the Kingdom of Belgium, will hold the welcoming address in Cologne. His talk will be followed by a discussion between Hedwig Fijen, Director of Manifesta, Cuauthémoc Medina, curator of Manifesta 9 and Katerina Gregos, co-curator of Manifesta 9. Afterwards there will be Belgian snacks and refreshments.

  • Beginning at 7:00 p.m. the art producers will hold a PRODUCTION TALK, at which “Curtain Callers” (2011), a co-production of Ann-Sofi Sidén & Jonathan Bepler, will be displayed. It will be followed by a panel discussion between the artist Magdalena Malm, MAP, Stockholm/Gothenburg; Dr. Barbara Engelbach from the Museum Ludwig in Cologne; and the film director and producer Marc Comes, CHBP.Host: Regina Barunke, SK Stiftung Kultur. Additional information is available atwww.sk-kultur.de/medienkunst

More information about the fair: http://www.artcologne.com/en/artcologne/home/index.php

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(in short from Mobile World Congress BCLN 2010) KPN selects ZTE for HSPA roll-out in Belgium, Germany

KPN has chosen Chinese telecom equipment manufacturer ZTE to supply HSPA-enabled 3G equipment for the further expansion and technical upgrade of its mobile networks in Germany and Belgium.

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