Saturday, April 29, 2017

This One Odd Aspect of BREXIT

For months, I've been watching the BREXIT business unfold, and now it's a fascinating thing to watch dealings between the EU and the UK occur.

One of the major topics has been the suggestion by various folks (mostly Germans) that banks in London will need to pack and leave....so the suggestion by the Germans has been that they might relocate into Frankfurt.  For a long time.....I believed the idea.  This week, I've come to step away from that.

It's an factor about banks.  They hate regulation.

Regulation means a threat of court action and fines.....if you screw up.

So you have to ask yourself.....the king of regulations at present is the EU.  What bank would really enjoy moving into Frankfurt and place itself to be heavily regulated over the next decade?

Yeah, I came to this realization.  Maybe there is an effort to review options, know the cost of moving into Frankfurt, and ask how employees feel about this.  But when you get down to the idea of moving into a place where hefty and additional regulations will more than likely occur.....well....what idiot would do that?

So, I'm of the mind that most all of the banks in London.....will remain there.  They might find a hundred employees and move a some group into Frankfurt, just to have some EU representation....but I doubt if anything now moves.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Alt-Right Media?

In Austria, it's a fairly debated topic on immigrants, asylum and migration.  Based on polls, voting and general discussion....it's about 50-50 on the split of the country.  Some will say that the news media (talking mostly over the state-run ORF) has used bias coverage and arranged debate forums with expected outcomes.  Newspapers are independent and are generally split on coverage.

I noticed this past week that the Red Bull CEO (Dietrich Mateschitz) has had a public comment or two....that there is too much bias news in Austria.  He wants to level the playing field.  His suggestion?  He might go and fund a Breitbart-type alt-right news site.  He's got a billionaire-status and could throw twenty-million Euro at some idea like this....aiming it at Austria, Switzerland, and Germany (all Germanic-speaking countries).

To be honest, alt-right doesn't exist in the Germanic region right now.  There are varying reasons for this.

First, public TV (ORF, ARD, ZDF, and the rest) will say that they are providing a voice for the general public via the chat forums that exist.  The fact that a growing number of people aren't viewers of public TV (even though they are forced into paying the tax) hasn't registered much with the public TV enthusiasts.

Second, the left-of-center and right-of-center political folks are trying desperately to keep the focus on this gimmick.  The fact that in Austria during the last big election....both left-of-center and right-of-center lost in major numbers, and you see the same thing in last weekend's France election (less than 25-percent went for the normal two parties).....hasn't really registered with journalists yet.

Third, the thrust of the immigration and migration control topic, is mostly now at the EU.  It's difficult to see any change coming until spring of 2019.....when another election occurs to decide the basis of representation at the EU.  Oddly, you'd look at the timing of this Mateschitz comment and possible creation of a alt-right media device, and think that it might have a serious effect for the 2019 EU election.....if an alt-right news media were around for a year.

Something to worry about?  Look, there's already a alt-left type media in existence....so it's hard to argue the alt-right worry, with things as they are.  If Mateschitz does create this device....it'll be amusing that someone tries to suggest creating an alt-left media.....because it's already there.

The Fake Refugee Story

It's one of those odd stories from Germany that draw you to ask a lot of questions.

"Johan" (my made-up name for this guy) was a young junior officer in the German Bundeswehr.  Twenty-eight years old.....he is originally out of Offenbach (a 'burb' to the east of Frankfurt and a area with a very high non-Germans as residents).  No one says that Johan himself is second or third generation German.  His dad was a fruit merchant in Offenbach.

So somewhere in the period of January of 2016.....Johan showed up (while a member of the German Army) in Zirndorf, Germany (hundred km SE of Frankfurt).  Johan is wearing appropriate refugee clothing, and is requesting asylum.  He says.....although without papers.....he's Iraqi.  He speaks to the guys there at the center in mostly broken French (the fact that he didn't speak any Arabic at all....should have been a BIG indicator of the bogus nature of his application).

The BamF folks accept the application, hand him some pocket money, assign him a room in the immigration center, and process his paperwork.

Now, you'd look at this and just feel....well...is it that easy for a non-refugee to apply and get past the entry situation?  Yeah, it is that easy.

How this falls apart?  Well, no one says why but this guy has made it to Vienna's airport for some reason....carrying a weapon, and hides it in the toilet area.  It's found and the cops figure out who the guy is, and an investigation occurs.  They have the fingerprints from his application as an asylum-member and as a member of the Bundeswehr.  My guess is that this opened up this cop investigation to a wider degree.

What is said now is that he had a conspiracy going on (at least one additional person, maybe a dozen), homes have been searched, and the German government is trying to understand what the heck was the master plan of this small group of young men.  Xenophobic has been uttered, but no one has aid out the plan in any detail.

My curiosity?  It was this easy for a non-Iraqi who spoke only French, to pretend to be an Iraqi seeking asylum in Germany.  So, how many more individuals did the same thing?  A dozen?  A hundred?  Could Russian KGB guys have infiltrated Germany using the scheme?

Charges on the young officer?  The pistol business at the Vienna Airport will be the most serious charge.  My guess is that he's looking at three years of prison for the various counts involved.  The refugee pocket-money that he's been getting monthly?  That will come into play as well.

A movie script?  Somewhere in the midst of this whole affair.....I see a five-star movie script waiting to be written and developed.

Had the airport gun epsiode never occurred?  I think the guy could have carried this whole fake immigrant thing to the next level.  He could have gone through German language school.  He would have eventually gotten a German ID card.  At some point, he could have disappeared from the Bundeswehr completely and just been some fake Iraqi-turned-German and start and entirely new life out of thin air.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Good Migrant Versus the Bad Migrant Story

As you might expect....since this weekend when crime statistics were dragged out, crime in Germany by migrants and immigrants has turned into the number one topic with political folks.

If you were from the working class....the numbers will bother you because it indicates that certain migrants....mostly men in the 18-to-25 age group....without any mature leadership or family connection, are prone to committing crime or be arrested.

The solutions?  The political folks like talking about adding more cops.  They've already agreed to one big stage of more cops but it'll be three years before that plan is accomplished.  No one says much over prosecutors or judges, but they are another part of the issue.  Course, if you were to prosecute to the extreme....they'd end up in jail for multiple years, and require you to build more prisons.  Some Germans would be negative about that.

All of this leads onto the basic subject of 'good' migrants versus 'bad' migrants.

You had two basic divisions in this period of 2013 to present.  One division were the Syrian and Iraqi refugees in search of a safe 'harbor' because of the threat in their homeland.  The second division were the folks from everywhere else (mostly men, mostly of the age group of 17 to 25), who grabbed onto this open door scheme that Germany offered.  The feeling was that if the wartime refugees got the 'deal'....then the economic migrants in search of a job and new life would also be offered the same 'deal'.

Well....oddly, reality has played into the approval process, and you find a large assortment of the non-Syrian/Iraqi applicants aren't being approved for permanent status, and aren't easily convinced to leave Germany (put yourself into their shoes, why go back).  Adding to this rich environment of permissions and approvals.....various fake passports from Syria and Iraq....which can easily be procured, and you pretend to be of the favored group.

The Germans?  For a long period....they simply didn't recognize this division existing.  It's probably after the 31 December 2015 episode in Koln where a thousand police reports were generated over one evening, and led mostly to migrant guys from North Africa.  In the months that followed....a new reality came out of this, and politically scared both the SPD and CDU to a great extent.  AfD would gain frustration votes and appear to be strong for the fall election in 2017.

Over the past twelve months....things kinda changed.  The approval rate for migrants from North Africa?  Way down.  New emphasis on more cops.  More emphasis on getting failed visa applicants out of Germany.  More discussion over priorities within the immigration and asylum program.  Deals between the EU and Turkey to lessen immigration trails into Europe.

So, you are left with this discussion and argument over the 'good' migrant versus the 'bad' migrant.  Maybe 90-percent are trying to follow onto the good migrant/immigrant trail and not be a long-term problem.  But then you are left with the lesser group who aren't willing to accept some friendly advice from the cops, or an occasional reminder via some judge.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Early Retirement Story

Early retirement in Germany.....is something that rarely happens.  Typically, it's a guy who was cop, fireman, or successful businessman.  Beyond that group, it's tough to go and get a doctor's note to say that your health (mental or physical) is so bad.....that you should be allowed your social pension early.

So in today's news, I noticed this piece from WDR (public TV) which chatted about this issue and the prosecution office in Munster.

No one says precisely how this suspicion started up or if it was just statistical averages that pointed this out.....but there were a lot of folks coming up in Munster with notes from a particular psychiatrist (out of the Bochum region).

The claim here is that roughly 600 episodes came up in this one region, from this one doctor, and it's higher than it should be.....leading to a court review.

The accusation?  Only an accusation.  The talk is that he gave a false opinion for people to get early retirement.  Added into this story is that people paid this guy money under the table....so the tax evasion folks are interested in this because it's all cash, and he never reported the income.  The amounts suggested?  Two thousand to seven thousand Euro.  You can do the math here and figure that it's in the ballpark of 200,000 Euro or more that he made....tax-free....IF true.

Right now....at least twenty-seven cases are identified as fraud.

Prosecutors say that some folks were even coached on how to act (mentally ill) when boards were convened to push forward the paperwork to be approved.

A national problem?  This was simply one particular area, but I would take a guess that across Germany (82-million)....there are hundreds each month working on some scheme, with some doctor and trying to find a way to get early retirement.

The general problem is that the national social pension program is not exactly healthy and with the birth-rate problem....you really can't allow fraudulent early retirement to occur.

When you normally see early and legitimate early retirement in Germany....it's usually back issues, or extreme stress (where yearly visits to the 'Kur' have occurred), and there's just no way for the guy or gal to go back into work.  My father-in-law (long passed) was a German roofer, and by his early 60s.....he was one of the legit early retirees.

The curious thing to this is that all of these people identified under this doctor's medical notes....will be dragged back into another review board, and most will be told to "un-retire", and go back to work. Imagine these characters showing up at the local jobs office....fifty to sixty years old, and having to find some kind of job to get them back into the real world.

Germany, Cars, and A Short Discussion

There are a couple of car-related things going on in Germany, which deserves one's attention, and a fair amount of pondering.

First, this past week....the Bundestag (the parliament) said 'no' to the EU proposal for more stringent controls (regulations) on auto emissions.  DW reported this.  One of the interesting aspects of the EU plan for control....was that they'd actually go and conduct on-the-spot emissions tests.

You can imagine German politicians (from both the SPD and CDU) standing there and having to react to some EU bureaucrat chatting away about tests conducted in Dresden or Munich, and you can't be a 100-percent sure about the reliability of the tests or the agenda tied to the tests.

One of the curious pieces of the regulation that the Germans pushed back against....was that if a German auto maker made a car and sold it.....and it was later found to be conflicting with emissions standards, then the car company would have to take possession of the car (compensating the owner in some way), and then pay the EU 30,000 Euro per vehicle as a 'fine'.  You imagine how VW, Opel, or Ford managers felt about that type of threat. One screw-up could basically bankrupt a company.

Funny how even the Germans can hate the EU for its regulation-creation ideas.

So, you come to the second big car discussion....diesel emissions.  It's openly discussed now that even with the new level of diesel vehicle categories (Euro-6)....even with the most modern diesel cars made and sold in Germany....they aren't clean enough for the standards now set.

All of this naturally leaves the experts looking at filter-systems that would have to be added onto vehicles.  The experts around Stuttgart, where this discussion originally started up....say the filter kit is 1,500 to 2,500 Euro.  So far, no one wants to talk much on who is going to pay for the kit (the vehicle owner obviously).  A month ago, I read a piece by one diesel owner who voiced the concern that you'd go and do this really stupid thing of paying for the kit out of your own pocket....only to learn two years later that his installed filter needs to be replaced with another newly developed and much improved kit....for another 1,500 Euro.  He might have a point on this discussion.

Finally, you come to the electrical car discussion, with the 2030 date sitting there in full view.  By 2030, unless something changes.....new car sales will be limited in Germany to strictly electric cars.  The general public doesn't chat much on this.  The general public at this point....aren't very hyped up about electric cars, with the yearly sum sold in the 4-digit range at present.

In virtually every direction you turn....there's impending or doomed regulation approaching on automobiles in Germany.  No one can say with any real authority, how things will be in twenty years with cars on German roads.

Monday, April 24, 2017

CSU Leadership Story

The 'sister' party of Merkel's CDU Party.....is the CSU, who only operate in Bavaria.  It's a handshake deal.  Typically, in a national election....the CSU can deliver around 3.5 million votes (8-percent of the national vote).

For the past nine years....Horst Seehofer has run the regional party.  He's 67 years old and last year....he hinted very strongly that he'd be retiring in the summer of 2018.  The schedule talked about last year was that a Bavarian state election would happen in September of 2018, and new leadership would stand up and carry the party forward.

Yesterday, Seehofer said...well....things changed.  He won't stand down, and he'll be the primary carrier of the CSU election in Bavaria in 2018.

Reason?  Some people believe that Seehofer sees this comeback of Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg occurring.  After the scandal of the thesis episode, Guttenberg has lived outside of Germany for around seven years.  There's been an invented way for Guttenberg to participate in this national election (Sep 2017)....with a couple of districts carved out where he will speak...shake hands...and talk up the future of conservative politics in Germany.

The belief is that Seehofer wants to see the CSU leadership role come to Guttenberg after this 2018 Bavaria election.

Oddly, this insider plan has one problem.  For several years....the Bavarian finance minister....Markus Soder, has been sitting there and planning his moment where he'd become the next head of the CSU. For him, this Seehofer deal is a bit frustrating.  For him to accept this, it means putting off his chief goal.

Guttenberg?  He says mostly nothing.  My guess is that Seehofer would announce some retirement in early 2019, and the party would quietly appoint Guttenberg into the leadership of the party.  Nationally, Guttenberg might be the come-back-kid in 2021.

I know....a lot of speculation, and people preparing 'chess-like' moves way ahead of time.

The news media reaction?  No one sees Guttenberg coming back, so this topic of conversation doesn't go far.  Typically, no German politician after a big scandal has ever come back.

So, if you were looking for an odd political story, this is it.

The Statistics Story

At some point today (Monday), an official report will be handed to the public by the Interior Minister (de Maiziere).  It's going to be a difficult report for journalists, intellectuals, and politicians to handle.  Basically, the Interior Minister says that crime number in 2016 show a hefty contribution by immigrants, migrants and asylum seekers.  The national numbers involving immigrants for crime investigation rose 57-percent, which worries the leadership within the Interior Ministry.

Hidden also within the numbers....more juvenile participants....both in violence and bodily harm.

Chief reason for migrant number surge?

There is this belief that a lot of young men arrived in 2014, 2015 and 2016 into Germany....and that a fair number drifted over into the occupation of crime.  For some, without a family connection or stable lifestyle....it simply made sense.  You can also say that a fair number arrived without any real plan....no real occupation or skill-set....and found that welfare payments in Germany won't cut it.  Even if they did get a job....it's a basic pay situation....eight to nine Euro an hour.  After you take out rent and heat from your check....there's just a limited or marginal amount of money left in the pot.

Chief reason for the juvenile issue?

No one took the statistics to the next level and asked if they relate to urban and rural splits....which I suspect they would show most of the juvenile surge came from major urban sectors of Germany.  If you toss around the 15-percent number of Germans now and still on welfare....there's not much positive to say out of life as a kid in this atmosphere.

Fixing the increase in crime?  All parties in the Bundestag, even the opposition folks....are super hyped-up on hiring more cops.  It's one of those amazing things.  You can't find a single political player in Berlin who is against the hiring of more cops now.  Time period for hiring more cops?  Well....here's the comical side of this story....it might be five years before the increase in cops is really felt across the 16 states.  So, don't get too hopeful on things getting fixed soon.

One might look ahead over the next four years, and leading up to the 2021 national election....assuming that the crime problem continues and maybe even gets worse for 2017 and 2018.  In which case....a lot of pressure will occur with the Bundestag to kick young male migrants out of the country if arrested for serious crimes.

One suggestion from the ARD article was that more language training needs to occur.  But if you had burger-flipper skills and German ability.....it only leads to a marginalized job future and no real hope.  So you drift over to crime anyway.

 So you come to the last part of this story.....why release a report like this?  Le Maiziere is slated to absolutely retire at the end of 2017.  He has no more interest in staying on, and is of retirement age.  I think he wants to stir the pot a bit.....with the Bundestag, Merkel, and the intellectual crowd.  He's basically saying that hiring more cops won't really fix the root cause of the crime issue in Germany.  You can discuss this in a hundred ways, but you come down to a large segment of people who have a very limited future...very unfocused on a path ahead....and a fairly easy entry into crime.