alt-think.com

MERKEL, MERKEL ÜBER ALLES!

Sep
20
Sunday evening Angela Merkel will have won parliament elections in Germany for a fourth consecutive time and start her fourth term as German Chancellor. It sounds paradox, but it is true, that she is longer in office than the World is using Apple iPhones and a generation of young Germans do only know her as the leader of Germany. Yet, in a world where twitter-man is hitting at rocket-man, and BoJo is not the name of a reality-show porn star, but of her Majesty’s foreign minister, the German „Mutti“ is a welcome deja-vu experience.
While narcissist and lunatic leaders are willing to steer our planet rapidly into chaos, her lack of ego and need to shine, and her sober approach to slow but steady problem and conflict solving have given her a unique political sex appeal, which will not only be honored by voters on Sunday but is recognized by political friends and enemies alike. Here are the main reasons for her seemingly un-ending success, which should become a case-study for the handbook of political leadership:
  • Merkel was able to turn her Chancellor role into a Presidential role, putting her beyond the day-to-day quarrels of political fights and giving her a Mother-of-the-Nation image
  • Merkel crushed the Social Democrats, by moving her party to the left, leaving no political wiggle room for her junior partner in the coalition government
  • Merkel is constantly avoiding to enter into any controversial political discussions but lets her party soldiers and officers lead the fight. She only comes in to announce the results, thus never taking a direct hit
  • Merkel’s cool-headed, logic-driven and stubborn approach to conflicts has helped her to ride undamaged through the European debt crisis as well as major geopolitical controversies, e.g. the Ukraine/Russia conflict
  • Her party has succeeded to turn her sober character and appearance into an untouchable political weight. Her style and behavior is no more ridiculed but admired
  • Believe it or not, but under the camouflage of her general appearance, Merkel is the biggest populist leader of Europe. She has an excellent feeling for the mood of the population, and will jump on anything that she feels would impact on her leadership or incense major discussions, not hesitating to throw major concerns, values and beliefs of her own party under the bus: as happened with the exit from nuclear energy after the Fukushima accident or the legalization of same-sex marriage or the Diesel scandal of the German auto industry
  • Last, but not least, she has been able to use Trump, Brexit, and Erdogan to promote her style of Governance as a guarantee for stability and predictability in Germany and in the World – and there is nothing that Germans love more
However, starting her fourth and most probably the last term as the leader of the biggest European country and economy (even Germans might eventually grow tired of her after 16 years), there are four major topics that she will need to address actively to build a lasting legacy:
  • Co-leading together with President Macron the European Union to the next development stage, and increasing integration after Brexit will require explaining to German voters why they will have to shoulder bigger financial contributions in European solidarity and why they will have to give up more financial sovereignty to a United Europe
  • Reforming and rejuvenating the German economy, industry sectors, and infrastructure, which are currently lulled by the global success of their products and services. Drastic reforms and innovations of the car industry are needed to counter the rapid electrification and “Uberization” of the society and to avoid a coal industry deja-vu in this vital industry for Germany. Germany can and should afford to invest much more into building future options through education, IT and communication infrastructure, build-up of new industry segments. And finally, the society needs to be prepared for a rapid robotization of major production, supply, and service processes, which will lead to the disappearance of millions of jobs, while creating vast opportunities for others.
  • Promoting a more balanced distribution of benefits and wealth in a society that has seen – as most of the Western societies did – a constant financial erosion of the middle class, the perception of taxation injustice, a burn-out frenzy, the evolution of multi-class health system with limited and decreasing access of the general population to first-class services, and will see the rapid disappearance of many low-skill jobs in the future.
  • Beefing up the security and safety in a country that has welcomed more than a million new citizens in a wild process without any serious vetting. The hot refugee topic, that many domestic and foreign commentators have claimed to be her biggest political failure, will pose, absent of any ideology, a substantial security threat for Germany. To tackle the fears and concerns of the population and to counter all nationalist tendencies Merkel will have to increase spending and efforts in domestic security capabilities, including high-tech ex-post vetting, surveillance and profiling skills. All of this while transforming Germany into an open-minded, integrative society that can digest massive immigration and profit from an increase in diversity of cultures, languages, and skills.
In a world filled with war-mongering, arms and drugs proliferation, hate speeches, nationalist tendencies, extreme technological progress, and change, it would be great, if a nation, that has put the World into misery and ashes in two world wars, could act as an anchor for stability and peace. Merkel is the right person for this task. For Germany, Europe, and the World. Therefore good luck for Angela on Sunday and a lucky hand in ruling Germany for the coming four years. The World is in urgent need of stabilizing elements.
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2017/Q3 UKRAINE NEWSLETTER

Sep
04

Dear Partners and Friends,

VI2 Partners is sharing with you the latest newsletter on recent developments in Ukraine and a snapchat of political and economic events in Q3 2017.

 

Summer was rich in both economic and political highlights. Ukraine started recovering from the crisis triggered by the political turmoil of 2014, the national currency is getting stronger, Ukrainian state-owned companies are finally reporting sufficient surplus with Naftogaz Ukrainy, Ukrenergo, Ukrainian Sea Port Authority, Ukrhydroenergo being among the most profitable state-owned assets (SOE) in 2016, according to the Top 100 SOE report prepared by the Economic Development and Trade Ministry.

 

Last but not least, Moody’s upgrading the outlook for Ukraine from stable to positive contributed to the overall positive dynamics and virtually serves as the best confirmation of the existing and upcoming positive changes.

 

Read more in our latest Newsletter

Bildschirmfoto 2017-09-04 um 13.35.00

VI2Partners Ukraine Newsletter Q32017

 

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#Fire and Fury – Does the World need a massive global armed conflict to re-orientate??

Aug
10

#Fire and Fury –
World Stability and Security have deteriorated fast over the last years. Does the World need a massive global armed conflict to re-orientate??

Trump and Kim are openly playing with fire. The President of the US is chatting with the Chinese President over a piece of „great“ chocolate cake, while the US Navy is simultaneously bombing Syrian air bases. We are watching in awe and silent admiration the explosive power of the „Mother of All Bombs“ being dropped on Afghanistan after 15 years of armed conflict as if it would be the latest release of a computer war game. Japan and Germany, who had learned their lessons from the monstrous atrocities of WW2 are asked to massively increase defense spending and armament. Even a nuclear armament of these countries is no longer taboo in the discussion. Fascist and Chauvinist elements are gaining ground fast, the growing desire for strong and full-mouthed leaders is frightening. Democratic checks and balances are replaced with dictators, authoritarian systems, or one-person centric movements.

The Nation State proclaimed with a noisy „Us First“ is celebrating an amazing comeback. There is a populist outcry by the forgotten men and women and the abandoned and exploited middle class. And all this, while the Mother of all Bubbles, the illusion of free money for all, nurtured by the Fed, the ECB and the BOJ, is granting the treasuries the comfort to continue past excesses and inefficiencies.

Unfortunately, it looks like the World needs a huge catharsis to bring us back some urgently needed (re-)orientation. A clarification of what we want to have and what not, how we want to live and how not, how we want to treat our own people and our neighbors and how not. What the basic economic agreements are between rich and poor, between old an young, between capital and labor, and between nations and neighbors. Currently, it does not look like if we would be able to obtain this clarity through the mental and political evolution of our societies, but only through a major global catastrophe, that goes beyond borders, societies, religions. There is a multitude of factors leading to global instability, to a new geo-political reality, and each one of them has the potential to unleash a global chain reaction:

  • The US, once perceived as the leader of the free world, is headed by a nationalist narcissist. Democratic principles are openly undermined and ridiculed.
  • North Korea is playing openly with fire, but unfortunately on top of a nuclear warhead.
  • The Middle East is in more chaos than ever. Syria is already a volatile, global battleground.
  • Two powerful groups are forming, heavily armed, and ready to test their arsenals in the Middle East and beyond: Iran/Iraq/Turkey/Qatar/Afghanistan – Saudi Arabia/Egypt/UAE/(Israel).
  • Old alliances break up without new ones evolving fast enough.
  • Religious and political extremists are progressing worldwide.
  • A migration iceberg is on the move.
  • Democracy is losing out against Dictators and authoritarian systems, media are under attack.
  • Fascist, Nationalist and Chauvinist Elements are growing, three generations after WW2 there is no collective memory on risks and dangers.
  • Cyber War and Cyber Crime are a direct threat to democracy and the rule of law, and can only be tackled internationally.
  • The end (if ever taking place) of cheap money will lead to global recession, in parallel to anti-globalization, protectionist trends.
  • More and more traditional workplaces will be suppressed by robots, millions of people will not be able to contribute in the next generation labor market.
  • The spiritual health of people is dying under a materialistic, ego-centric avalanche of individual self-optimization.

Unless the UNSC, i.e. the US, EU, Russia and China engage in a shared(!) control of a World in a lunatic frenzy, we are heading fast towards an unpredictable chaos, driven by selfish and authoritarian Nation States. And this will indeed cause fire and fury. Btw, a very similar situation to the pre-WW2 period. There is still hope that responsible leaders and politicians worldwide are waking up to the new geo-political reality, and give new vision and orientation to the World, but time is running out. Or humankind will have to go through the catharsis of a huge catastrophe. The good news is: artificial intelligence is advancing fast.

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2017/Q2 Ukraine Newsletter

Jun
06

Amid the prolonged political instability and financial difficulties, Ukraine’s economy is demonstrating the hidden potential and distinct signs of recovery.

This gives us the reasons to assume, that the country is slowly coming back onto the radars of foreign investors, with upcoming deregulation and institutional reforms contributing to the overall economic upturn.

Read more in our latest Newsletter

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DUMP DUMB TRUMP – Admittedly A European View

Jun
01
The reality show in the White House continues. Between family members selling US visas to China, Ivanka cashing in 100 Million USD for a so far unknown foundation while her husband is closing a huge arms deals with the same clients, and the President practicing sword dance, the post WW II order is eroding faster than the Larsen C Shelf in the Antarctic. In between we learn, that the Real Donald is giving away his Real Phone Number to other heads of states, talking openly about the locations of nuclear subs, handing out Israeli intelligence to the Russians (while keeping European allies in the dark) and looking for communication back channels with nations suspected of hacking and influencing US elections.
Washington rumors are spreading, that the producers of House of Cards are increasingly annoyed, as viewers get bored with second class intrigues and plays of Frank and Claire Underwood, and are demanding instead bodycams and live streams from the West Wing of the White House. Netflix would love to negotiate with the Trump family on the licensing rights, and the “Trump First – All Others are Fake” movement could make another great, fantastic deal, creating millions and millions for the family, doing such a tremendous job for the country. Future tax benefits for the ultra rich need to be good for something.
But, serious. This US presidency, which could have been indeed a great opportunity for the US, is turning into an absurd theater with collateral damage beyond any imagination. Other Western leaders are starting to move from utter disbelief into open opposition and strategic re-orientation of their countries, not willing to embark on the twitter based America Only adventure at the cost of their countries and taxpayers.

7 days in office – who will call the bluff? | alt-think.com

The RealDonald proves to be very real. 7 days in office, and the world order is already shaking. The world is paralyzed, and in utter disbelief what is happening and how fast and how un-contested. Whoever had hoped or feared that the behavior of the President is different to the behavior of the President-Elect and…

Since our last contribution on US developments „7 days in office- who will call the bluff“ the White House Adhocracy has trumped all expectations:
  • Nato has been severely weakened. Article 5 no more unanimously supported. Individual states and EU to develop parallel defense structures to NATO
  • Russia and China have gained global recognition and increased their significance as a global partner
  • The armament race in the Middle East and around the globe has gained pace
  • Already sensitive intelligence services are on alert and less inclined to share
  • Global fight against climate change is substantially weakened
  • The „Donald-gut-feeling against substance and logic” has led to firing and deliberate brain drain from the White House
  • The American torch of freedom, human rights and democratic values is fading
Well the good news is, that populist movements in Europe are losing ground fast with every statement and action of Trump. He is also the single most important factor for faster European integration. The bad news is, that we can expect more and worse statements and actions, before this chapter of American history will be closed (and do not expect it to happen fast). By scrapping international agreements and contracts and focusing on a purely competitive win-lose approach in international politics, the US will lose its credibility as a reliable partner and as a global leader, opening the field for other players to fill this void. Nobody can tell today, to what this will lead.
The probability for a (successful) impeachment is very low, given the rightful constitutional hurdles for this process in the absence of a smoking gun fired by Trump. But, the bluff will be called more and more by the press, the FBI and the intelligence services; and of course Little Marco and Johnny Walker Mc Cain are always in to start a DUMP DUMB TRUMP campaign. As this will start nagging and hurting more and more, with a tsunami of news from special investigators, senate committees and administration insiders, there might be a case for a face-saving (reason to be found) resignation of the President. Or, we might experience the Real Donald starting a Real war on the Korean peninsula. He would not be the first to cover problems at home with escalation abroad. The probability of this scenario, unfortunately, is going up. Watch out, we are moving rapidly into unknown and turbulent waters.
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Vive la France – or not?

Apr
24
The first round of the French Presidential election is finally over. International press and investors are relieved and cheering, basing their enthusiasm on the following points:
  • The worst case, a run-off between the extreme right (Le Pen) and the extreme left (Melenchon) has not materialized
  • Everybody is counting on a home-run for Macron to beat Le Pen in the run-off in two weeks
  • And, omg, the researchers have been right in their forecasts this time (btw the first time in a major election since 2015)
In reality, the situation is far worse, than it looks at first glance. This election will be a further burden on France, which has already been punished by Hollande’s Presidency for the last five years, and it is doubtful whether the French population is yet ready for any serious improvement. Here is why:
  • France for the first time since WWII has nearly half of their voters who are blinded by either nationalist or communist ideas, and are openly against membership in the European Union. They are against all long needed reforms of the French economic system, in which today the bloated civil service is acting as an iron wall against any performance oriented reforms, in which the focus would have to be more on give and do than on take. This is a bad foreboding both for up-coming parliamentary elections and any reforms that would have to be explained to the population.
  • Macron, in case that he will win the run-off, will be a President without the Parliament’s backing, and it would be a miracle if he could engineer with his new movement a solid majority in the upcoming Parliamentary elections. The Co-habitation between President and Parliament from different parties had already proven very bad for political progress in France in the past, and is very hard to imagine how major reforms in France (which always co-incide with the „Misérables“ inspired burning of tires and blocking of roads, that is unfortunately enshrined in the French genetic code) could be executed in this setting. He will be a President who can only rely on the public vote, but if nearly half of the population will be on the barricades ..?
  • It is not yet clear, whether Macron will really win so clearly in the end. The voters from the extreme left might be tempted to vote for Le Pen and also some voters from the conservative party might not be amused to vote for a Mini-Hollande. And then …, there is still the chance of foreign meddling in the election, and the uncovering of a media hyped scandal. Francois Fillon has shown how fast a leading contender can burn to ashes.
France is in urgent need of a strong President, seconded by a strong Parliamentary majority, who can re-design the French societal contract to be able to cope with the challenges of the next decades. Illusions of an endless growth of the state have to be burned, and it will hurt. It will hurt the many people who believe that it is normal to start a pension at the age of 55, after having been exploited for decades by working 35 hours per week. The longer this illusion is kept, the more radical and revolutionary the answer will be one day in the not so far future.
The election result is a drastic outcry of the population, strengthening the extreme parties and weakening the established left and right, who have led France into the current disaster. As in other countries the middle class and the working people in the private sector have been sucked out by a bloated public sector and over-spending, state regulation, over-administered social systems which are in addition strained by too high un-employment, and a growing feeling that French politicians lack the courage for real reforms. The global role and importance of „la Grande Nation“ is diminishing fast and this is hurting the French ego. Someone has to tell the French, that greater wealth, higher employment and sound state finances, will only result from hard work, more flexibility, greater innovation, attraction of the best minds and entrepreneurs, rewarding and not punishing performance; and that it will not result from ever more taxes, more state employees, higher welfare benefits, more tricolore flags, less globalization, more deficits and state spending. Imitating Trump in a „France First“ movement will work even less with a home market the size of France and the top-down, Paris-centric corporate and industrial French culture.
We will see whether Mr. Macron is up to this task. It is definitely too early to cheer.
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The Divorce Battle has Finally Started

Mar
29
What a pity that Donald Trump is not residing in Downing Street No 10 but in the White House.
Otherwise there could be hope, that the execution of the mother of all divorces between the UK and the EU could still fail due to hasty, lousy or legally weak administrative action. But with the daughter of an Anglican priest at the helm of Britannia, there should be no doubt, that a clear and clean separation will be delivered at all cost for the family, or as she puts it: Brexit means Brexit!
For now, bullish stock markets and collective self-delusion, the illusion of regained independence and identity are keeping the spirits up. This will change rapidly.
Soon the public mudslinging will start and the hard numbers bite. Have a look at some very interesting numbers:
Time to hand over divorce papers 29/3: 1 Minute
Divorce Payment asked by EU: > 60.000.000.000 EUR
Annual Net UK Payment into EU so far: 11.000.000.000 EUR
Food Price Increase due to border controls: 8%
Number of Scots Against Brexit: 62%
UK Exports into EU of all Exports: 45%
Number of Trade Negotiators (pre Brexit) UK: 20
Hiring Gap New UK Trade Negotiators: 300
Number of Trade Negotiators (pre Brexit) EU: > 600
Number of EU Members in Top 10 UK Trading Partners: 8
For the rationale spectator, it is very hard to understand how the UK will be able to achieve in 18 months successful negotiations with the EU on terminating its membership and starting a new trade deal, with only a handful of experienced trade negotiators. And to make this job more difficult, Theresa May has raised high expectation for new trade deals with the US, China, India, Australia and many more. Btw. the EU is leading trade deal discussions with India for more than 10 years now, stalemating among others due to UK concerns on immigration.
Many fear the hard Brexit will end in a hard landing into reality. The financial services sector is already relocating, prices are increasing and will further do so, investment from EU countries into the UK has come to a standstill, political cohesion of the UK is rapidly eroding, the London real estate market is dead. Theresa May is well advised to call a general election and secure a comfortable majority before these effects will become visible.
In case that negotiations will turn sour, and if you look at the sheer numbers and the political significance for the UK and the EU, there will be a 80 % chance of just this happening, the relation between the EU and Great Britain will be seriously damaged, probably for a whole generation. This is the real danger for Europe and for each European, far worse than any economic downturn. Rapid lecture of Jane Austen’s „Pride and Prejudice“ should be mandatory for Liam Fox and the UK Trade Negotiators as „The Parable of the Lost Son“ for Michel Barnier and the EU Trade Team. Only a combination of less UK hybris and more EU generosity and tolerance, and a grand political gesture of good-will for the sake of the greater good can save us now from a centennial hangover. Probably we will first see a dramatic escalation and darkening of the negotiation process and results before any significant and productive process will gain ground.
The divorce battle has finally started. Let the mudslinging begin!

 

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2017/Q1 Ukraine Newsletter

Mar
07

The Lower House of the Parliament of Canada has ratified the free trade agreement with Ukraine. After completion of all the ratification procedures, Canada will abolish duties on 99.9% of Ukrainian imports. In turn, Ukraine will cancel 86% of duties on imports from Canada.

Read more in our latest newsletter.

UA NewsL 17

VI2Partners Ukraine Newsletter Q12017

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7 days in office – who will call the bluff?

Jan
27
The RealDonald proves to be very real. 7 days in office, and the world order is already shaking. The world is paralyzed, and in utter disbelief what is happening and how fast and how un-contested. Whoever had hoped or feared that the behavior of the President is different to the behavior of the President-Elect and to the the behavior of the Candidate has been proven tremendously wrong. What do we learn from the first days of the new President:
  • Election promises will be executed, fast and without compromise
  • The media will be bashed and intimidated
  • Twitter will remain the most important tool for policy announcement
  • White House and President will be ruthless providers of alternative facts
  • Policies are based on Presidential gut-feelings (the master dealer)
  • Whoever dares to criticize will immediately be publicly punished
  • The White House is dominating if not enslaving the GOP, the House and the Senate.
  • A desperate Theresa May is ready to prostitute the UK and its beliefs and values for the sake of a free-trade deal with the US
The humiliating treatment of the Mexican State and the Mexican President is un-precedented, and it sends a clear warning to other leaders and countries, who will be next in the line of fire: China, Japan, Germany, Iran and many more. The frightening thing about Donald Trump is that he has behavioral patterns of a narcissist gambler. He will march on without pity and fear, and will raise the stakes, until someone has the courage and power to call the bluff. The longer he can go on without resistance, the more dangerous the game will be for the US and for the World. The faster he will be forced into compromise and truth by US or international players, the better the outcome will be.

 

As Donald Trump is an enormously energetic change agent, he has a great potential to change the US, the economy, even the World for the better. But only if he will be contained, channeled, managed. This is unfortunately where the doubt comes into the play, as we have seen some patterns evolve over the past days that should be reason for concern. So who can call the bluff?
  • The GOPunlikely, they are recovering from the ashes of a divisive campaign and sun bathing in the glory of dominating house and senate, Paul Ryan has become a puppet.
  • The Democratsunlikely, the party is completely in shatters and powerless, and the message of taking care for the forgotten man and woman goes down well with many Dems
  • The Senatemore likely, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are waiting for their revenge and to position themselves as potential successors
  • The Pressvery likely, investigative journalists from the US will put a lot of energy into shedding light on Trump’s taxes, scandals, un-proper deals, lies. Every bashing will make them more hungry for the story
  • Russiaunlikely, they will ride this wave as long as possible and exploit the situation, that Trump has promised to improve the relationship
  • Europeunlikely, completely divided, in the middle of election campaigns, on the brink of EU collapse
  • Chinamore likely, after ending TPP, China is the partner of choice, and the economic power enormous, they will not be intimidated by Trump
  • CIAmore likely, huge mistake of Trump to alienate publicly the services, they have a life of their own and they can be dangerous
  • The Economyvery likely, It’s the economy, stupid! Impulsive actions and un-necessary trade wars might lead to more debt, weaker dollar and recession. The bluff would then be called by reality!
Donald Trump is one of the greatest marketing geniuses in the World. From the organization of his campaign, the public crushing and humiliation of his opponents, the brutal crippling of the truth and the admirable mastering of direct communication with his fans and the general public via Twitter, it is clear that he is a brilliant sales man and marketeer. We have bought him and his ideas, and we will continue to cheer, as everyone is hungry for simple answers, fast solutions, pride and love for the nation, strength of the military and rising wages for the forgotten people, and let us not forget: we love to be entertained.

 

The problem is, there are no simple answers and solutions in our complex world of today. And the big danger is, that we are buying into simple, often unreflected answers and concepts, that will prove very costly and damaging in the end. The US and the World will pay dearly: in case we will get into a trade war with Mexico and China, in case the US will further destabilize the European Union or in case the US is ceasing to be the leading torch of the free world. Fake concepts, fake news, alternative facts and outright denials, when proven wrong, will lead at a certain point to an enormous crash – like building a great casino with a grand opening, and ending in bankruptcy. It is time that someone calls the bluff. The stakes keep raising.
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Major changes mean major opportunities in 2017

Jan
12
As the White House turns into a reality show inspired boardroom, and major global policy changes are announced and we should better believe they will happen, many CEOs and leaders are still standing on the sidelines!

 

Wrong! Get prepared, lead and innovate, major changes mean major opportunities. When the rules of the game change, new winners appear and unexpected losers are washed ashore!

 

When you are still doubtful whether all of what we are experiencing is true or not, read this presentation from Mehlman Castagnetti. Some interesting insights guaranteed.

back briefing

 

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