Kidz, cars & yobs

Dear Reader,

First of all, a gentle nag to keep sharing my newsletter. You are the foot soldiers in my quest to reach every corner of the expat world.



Public broadcaster ARD is notorious for appealing to a demographic still struggling to use a fax machine. But they’ve decided to change that by encouraging young people to vote for the “youth word of the year.”

News anchor Susanne Daubner kept a straight face while asking the kidz to choose between “digga”, “papatastisch” and (inexplicably) “Mittwoch.”

While this new focus probably won’t keep Netflix up at night, the public broadcaster really doesn’t need to worry. Paying for its famously snore-y productions is a legal duty. Refusniks end up in the klink.


For the first time in 15 years the Social Democrats came out ahead of the Christian Democrats in a poll this week.

While that illustrates just how miserable the past decade and a half has been for the country’s oldest party, it also serves as a wake up call to the CDU, who are sleep walking into the election.

Only SPD Chancellor hopeful Olaf Scholz saw this coming. When he confidently claimed last winter that he could turn things around in the campaign season no one took him seriously.

But he has ghosted to the front of the pack while a Twitter mob feasts on the remains of Merkel successor Armin Laschet; the conservative media had already put Green candidate Annalena Baerbock to the sword.

Polling is really volatile: the CDU, the Greens and the SPD have all led in the past few months. Can Scholz hold on?

My hunch is that he will. Unlike Anglophone voters, Germans love a known quantity. As Finance Minister in the last Merkel cabinet and a face who’s been around on the tele for years, Scholz is reassuringly (boringly) familiar.


The German government’s pandemic strategy of locking up children while allowing industry to go about business as usual has paid off handsomely for its favourite people - car industry lobbyists.

An analysis by Ernst & Young shows that the 30 companies that make up the DAX index recorded their fattest ever second quarter profits this year, mainly on the back of huge numbers posted by VW, Daimler and BMW.

Total profits for the quarter of €45 billion were a remarkable 87 percent up on Q2 of 2019.

Over a third of that total profit was made by the three big beasts of the car industry, who have shrugged off global chip shortages and doubled down on their strategy of selling to the Far East, where demand bounced back quickest.

That big business glided through the past year while families suffered is pro forma: industry is exempt from the levies that subsidise renewable energy, meaning German households are left with the highest electricity bills on the continent.


Leroy Sané was supposed to be the next superstar of German football. Bayern Munich paid Manchester City €50 million for his services last summer after he gained a reputation for bamboozling defences in England.

But a forgettable first year back in the Bundesliga was followed by some anonymous performances for the national team at the Euros this summer.

So the last thing the 25-year-old needed was for his own fans to start whistling him every time he picks up the ball, as happened in a game against Cologne at the weekend.

Most memorable was the reaction of FC Köln coach, Steffen Baumgart, who with his beard, flat cap and beer belly, looks like he’s gone the extra mile to understand the mindset of his fans.

“I get annoyed by these lads who start whistling, but when you take a look at them you know they couldn’t even run three metres in a straight line,” he observed after the match.