News of the day: Trillions for the USA, currency crisis in Turkey, Easter under Corona conditions

1. The US citizens suffer from ailing railroad lines and roads, but politically Joe Biden’s program for the renewal of the infrastructure is unlikely to be enforceable

Which politician said the phrase “A statesman’s greatest duty is to educate people”? No, it was not the German Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier who was piqued today with the AstraZeneca vaccine and announced a speech on the current situation in the corona pandemic for Easter Saturday evening. The sentence comes from the US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He lived from 1882 to 1945 and with the “New Deal” in the 1930s gave his country an economic program that helped the nation out of dark times, created jobs for millions of people and is still considered exemplary today.

Now Joe Biden, the current President of the United States of America, has presented a plan to decorate his country, which economists have already compared to the “New Deal” of the 1930s. For a total of $ 2.3 trillion, he plans to renew the US infrastructure over the next few years. In his story about Biden’s plan, my colleague Marc Pitzke calls it “the most massive investment program since the Second World War”. Among other things, the President wants to renovate America’s ailing roads, rails, bridges, airports and ports and ensure that local public transport is expanded and the supply of electricity, drinking water and the Internet is improved.

I asked Marc how good, in his opinion, the chances are that Biden will be able to realize his proudly announced project. “It would be really great if America’s broken infrastructure could finally be brought into the 21st century,” he says. “On paper, Biden’s plan is exactly what the US needs right now.” His vision is even broader and more consistent than Roosevelt’s “New Deal.” But my colleague fears: »Politically, this cannot be enforced in this polarized country and with the thin majorities that Biden has in Congress. The Republicans will block him, and some Democrats don’t go far enough with his ideas. “

Despite rusty trains, damaged bridges and crumbling roads and social buildings, the USA continues to be a place of longing for many Central American residents, where they hope for prosperity. In the Mexican-American border area, thousands of parents who actually want to emigrate to the USA are currently sending their children north alone, out of sheer desperation. My colleague Nicola Abé interviewed the US activist Dylan Corbett, who, as the founder of the Catholic aid organization Hope, supports migrants on the border. He says: “We see a lot of people from Guatemala and Honduras, but also a steep increase in migration from Mexico.” He has never heard any of those willing to immigrate say that he made the decision because of the policies of the new US President Biden To leave home country. In fact, the situation of the people at the border has not changed. “The Biden government is now portraying its policies as particularly humane because the minors are not being sent back,” said Corbett. “It’s not a political decision. They simply obey the law that says we must take in and protect unaccompanied minors. “

2. The currency crisis in Turkey is a consequence of President Erdoğan’s policy – and could send the country’s economy into a downward spiral

Statesmen who, like US President Roosevelt once saw themselves as educators, do not always have a good reputation today. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan even seems to want to teach economic experts that he has more insight and wisdom than they do. Erdoğan recently fired his central bank chief, who was only appointed in November, and thus triggered a quake in the financial markets. The value of the Turkish currency lira is falling, and inflation in the country was recently well over 15 percent. Prices in Turkey have recently risen so sharply that the wave of inflation threatens to eat up the incomes and assets of the middle class.

My colleague Benjamin Bidder asked the currency expert and economist Ulrich Leuchtmann how he assesses the ongoing crisis in Turkey. Leuchtmann works at Commerzbank, he says: “We have now weakened the lira so significantly that it is itself becoming a burden on the domestic economy. The country has had a high current account deficit for years, so it imports more goods from abroad than it exports. «Turkey has accumulated high foreign debts, mostly in hard currencies, i.e. in dollars or euros. “For every Turkish company, every Turkish bank with foreign debts, a devaluation of the lira is therefore a problem,” says Leuchtmann. Erdoğan seems firmly convinced that rate cuts will also depress inflation, which is simply wrong. According to the German expert, the Turkish president “actually has a wrong idea of ​​the economic context.”

In an interview with my colleague, the Commerzbanker worried that the currency crisis “is developing into a downward spiral in Turkey”. This could also affect the stability of the banks and the economy as a whole. “The danger is that a self-reinforcing process will start.”

3. Stricter Corona requirements are supposed to limit personal contacts at Easter, but politicians also fear that people will meet illegally

In Hamburg today the judges of the Higher Administrative Court confirmed the mask requirement imposed by the Senate of the city for joggers on the Alster and Elbe. It applies on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., as during this time, according to the court, the minimum distances required to prevent corona infections cannot be observed. An athlete had initially successfully overturned the general mask requirement when jogging by means of an urgent application, but now the city politicians have prevailed. In many cities and federal states there are also night curfews over the Easter days.

My colleague Jean-Pierre Ziegler interviewed René Wilke, the mayor of Frankfurt an der Oder. Wilke initially did not want to stick to the so-called emergency brake, which provides for the use of stricter measures as soon as an incidence of more than 100 is determined. The mayor now has to bow to the land line. “We run the risk of losing the sensible people who have so far adhered to the corona rules,” says Wilke. “People ask why the little shoe shop on the corner should close when different households hardly meet there anyway because of the limited number of customers and appointments. Or why the children’s soccer practice should be canceled in the open air, although there is no shared shower, no changing in the cabins and the parents wait in the car when they pick up their children. “

I find it very plausible how the Lord Mayor of Frankfurt explains his need to argue in everyday life in his city using the example of outdoor soccer training. “I can see that the children and families adhere to the hygiene rules meticulously because it is important to them to keep this piece of freedom,” says Wilke. “If we take everything away from people, they will find another way of making contact. I prefer regular, documented club sports. “

In another text, my colleagues Claus Hecking and Stefan Schultz also report on the doubts and contradictions of politics in this Corona spring. Because the asparagus harvest begins in Germany at Easter, tens of thousands of harvest workers from Eastern European countries will be scattered across the border to Germany by car over the next few days and weeks. The authorities promise “strict protective measures”, but depending on the region and the responsible ministry, there is a confusing conglomeration of hygiene and entry rules for work, according to the colleagues. So they ask: “Is the prospect of ‘asparagus full’ at Easter really worth the risk?”

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  • Well-fortified monarchy: Queen Elizabeth II, soon to be 95, made her first public appearance outside her palace in almost five months on Wednesday. The occasion was the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Australian Air Force RAAF (which is only a few months older than the Queen’s husband, Prince Philip). She visited a war memorial in the English county of Surrey, and there was an exchange of words with an officer of the Royal Australian Air Force. The Queen, wearing a tulip-adorned hat herself, jokingly asked him whether the jets he was working with had been sent out “to chase after Russians.” The background to this is the increasing tensions between Moscow and London – in fact, more and more Russian aircraft have recently been intercepted as they approached British airspace. The officer replied appropriately to his queen: “Correct, ma’am, and this is a lot of fun for us.”

Typo of the day, meanwhile corrected: “I feel like in a scene from› Black Mirror ‹, that’s how post-apoclyptic it looks.”

Cartoon of the Tages: Traffic light signs

Could you check out the wonderfully crazy crime comedy Knives Out, which is offered on numerous streaming services. The actor Daniel Craig plays a funny, snuggly and extremely casual private investigator named Benoit Blanc. He is supposed to clear up the of course extremely puzzling death of a bestselling author. The film was a surprise hit in cinemas in many countries just before the pandemic. Today it became known that the US company Netflix wants to produce two sequels of the work filmed in the style of an old-fashioned Agatha Christie crime thriller – for a total of 400 million dollars. In the “Knives Out” sequels, both Craig and the director of the first film, Rian Johnson, are said to be in action again.

A lovely evening. Heartily
Your Wolfgang Höbel

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