The Germans are a funny bunch. Germany is certainly Europe’s most successful nation and yet probably among the most stressed of its people. Just a few of my observations as we enter an uncertain 2020. Oh mein Gott!

Lorenz Clasen 1860 — Germania auf der Wacht am Rhein

Stuttgart– I must give credit where credit is due: the Germans listen to each other. I think this is in part because German grammar throws their verbs at the very end of every sentence which forces you to wait for the conclusion to know what they are really trying to say before you can yell back. For those who don’t understand German, it is easy to think they only discuss serious things which, in fact, is not necessarily wrong.

Accidental Americans Protest in France

Forty-thousand French citizens could find themselves without a bank account at the end of the year because French banks are unable to meet the US tax information reporting law known as FACTA (1), according to Laurent Mignon, the head of the French Banking Federation, FFB. In all there could be more than 300 thousand people across Europe who will have no place to park their money and collect their salaries in 2020.

It could peter-out, or it could get a whole lot bigger

Paris Rioting hit mainly the chic districts, targetting the symbols of wealth and the 1%: 5-star-hotels, luxury cars, banks, jewelry stores…

After two weeks of Yellow Vest protests, government insults and deaf ears, President Emmanuel Macron is scrambling for answers but unwilling to compromise. There is a no-confidence vote is in the making, the left and right oppositions are calling for new legislative elections and an already weakened economy is teetering. This leaderless, grassroots movement by mainly angry, lower and middle income white French families, may still peter-out, and then again, as I wrote on November 22, in ‘France’s Deplorables Explained’ (Click here), it may not.

images“A medieval peasant revolt with social media. An Arab Spring without the Arabs. Don’t underestimate the potential danger of the Yellow Vests.”

They are the ‘deplorables’ of France. They get up early and go to work. If they were American, they would be those that make up Trumps hardcore base but no French worker is stupid enough to believe a billionaire can represent their interests. In the 1960s and early 70s they would have voted Communist. Today they vote for Marine Le Pen’s National Rally and other hard right conservatives. The Yellow Vests are White and ethnic French. They are mad as Hell and won’t take it any more! (1.)

 

Unknown
Merkel, caught between a rock and a hard place

German tax payers will not pay other people’s debt. This is in substance what the Chancellor, Angela Merkel, told the Frankfurter Algemeine Sonntagszeitung, June 3, when she said there could be no “union of the debt.” The comment was in response to news out of Italy that the new ‘populist’ coalition wants the European Central Bank to forgive 250 billion euros in Italian debt. The problem is, when you forgive debt, someone has to pay, and in Europe, that someone is Germany; the only EU country whose economy is strong enough to prop up the euro.

A quarter of Europe’s inhabitants — more than half of them under the age of 30 — will be ‘Africans’ in 2050.” This is the startling conclusion Stephen Smith draws in his new book: La Ruée Vers l’Europe (The Rush for Europe). (1.)

The Professor of African Studies at Duke University has shaken France so deeply that President Emanuel Macron and National Front leader, Marine Le Pen, both referred to him in TV interviews in March.

by S.G. Kazolias:  President Emmanuel Macron campaigned to put an end to what he called “Social Dumping” —- the practice of temporarily hiring workers from poorer EU countries at the minimum wage and paying their much lower social security in their home country.  On March 1, EU delegates in Brussels agreed to revise the 1996 accord allowing this. But getting all EU countries to agree may be harder.

When the then 12 EU members approved the 1996 ‘Posted Workers’ directive, labor costs between the different countries was one to three. As the EU enlarged to 28 with the former Soviet Block countries, that differential became one to ten and employers took advantage of it. Skilled labor was brought in from countries like Bulgaria, Romania and Poland at a fraction of the cost.

imagesBy S.G Kazolias. President Emmanuel Macron’s reform strategy remains the same: call in the unions, associations and organizations of those concerned by labor reforms for “consultations.” The government says what it wants, the others tell the government what they won’t accept and the government goes ahead with its original plan through a process that by-passes parliamentary debate.