Good morning. Today's Tuesday, January 17th.
German police removed the last two climate activists, nicknamed "Pinky" and "Brain", from the village of Luetzerath which is due to be destroyed for the expansion of a nearby coal mine. Meanwhile, a video from a day earlier showed German police stuck in the mud, failing to stave off a protestor who was clearly at least a mid-level "mud-wizard" that was not affected by the difficult terrain while taunting them.
- After that deep cut, enjoy this bit of fantasy tunes as you scroll down, and have a fantastic day.
– Can and Tanem
• The rise in German wholesale prices slowed in December, according to data released by the Federal Statistics Office on Monday. The wholesale price index rose by 12.8% year-on-year, compared with a November reading of 14.9%, Destatis reported. Compared with November 2022, the index saw a slight dip in December, falling 1.6%.
- Why it matters: High wholesale prices are driven mainly by increased prices for raw materials and intermediate products. In December, the prices of mineral oil products rose 22.8% compared with December 2021, having the largest impact on the wholesale price index, Destatis said.
• Global employment growth is expected to halve this year to 1% due to the economic fallout of the war in Ukraine, high inflation, and tighter monetary policy, an International Labour Organization report said on Monday. The number of unemployed people in the world is expected to rise by 3 million to 208 million in 2023, while inflation will eat into real wages, the ILO added.
• Only 40% of people believe they and their families will be better off in five years, compared to 50% a year before, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer. The regular global survey, which for over two decades has polled the attitudes of thousands of people, found that economic pessimism was at its highest in some of the world's top economies such as the US (36%), Britain (23%), Germany (15%), and Japan (9%).
- Furthermore: The report also identified growing levels of distrust in institutions among low-income households. "This has really shown the mass class divide again," said Richard Edelman, whose Edelman communications group published the survey of over 32,000 respondents in 28 countries.
• The Russian state’s oil revenue came under further pressure as Urals crude, Russia’s key export blend, traded at $46.82 per barrel between mid-December and mid-January, its lowest level in more than two years, according to data from the Finance Ministry published on Monday.
- A step back: The country already had a record federal budget deficit in December as it spent heavily on the invasion of Ukraine while the price of oil and gas —the single largest source of government revenue— declined.
• Bayer said it is shifting the focus of its pharmaceutical business to the US and away from Europe and the UK, reported the Financial Times, where countries are making "big mistakes" and becoming "innovation unfriendly" because policymakers were making it more difficult to generate commercial returns on their investments.
- On a related note: US drugmakers AbbVie and Eli Lilly became the first pharmaceutical groups to pull out of a pricing agreement with the UK in protest of a sharp rise in the levy on branded medicines. Eli Lilly said the levy had a "punishing" impact on innovation, leading to Britain falling behind other major countries.
• Tesla came under fire from German union IG Metall and politicians over allegations by workers of unreasonable working hours and fears over speaking out at its Gigafactory Berlin-Brandenburg, with some calling for inquiries into the automaker. "Tesla is not doing enough to improve working conditions and is leaving too little time for leisure, family and recovery," a union spokesperson said.
- Furthermore: A new role advertised on Tesla's career website for a "Security Intelligence Investigator", who will partner with legal and human resources departments to carry out "collection of on-the-ground information both within and beyond Tesla walls in order to protect the company from threats," exacerbated these concerns.
• Volkswagen expects a recovery in China’s passenger car market growth this year as supply-chain stresses ease and Covid-19 infections following the country’s pandemic reopening slow down. The world’s biggest car market is set to grow between 4% and 5% this year to 23 million vehicles, said Ralf Brandstaetter, the carmaker’s head of China operations, accelerating from a rise of 1.6% last year.
- The competition: While growth is set to accelerate, Western carmakers are losing ground to local manufacturers offering cheaper models geared to local tastes. Tesla already cut prices in China in October. Brandstaetter declined to say whether Volkswagen would follow suit.
• Death toll from a weekend Russian missile strike on an apartment building in Dnipro rose to 40, Ukrainian officials said. Regional authorities said 39 people, including 14 children, have been rescued so far and that 30 more remained missing in one of the deadliest attacks on Ukrainian civilians.
- In other news: The US military started training hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers for new combined arms training in Germany, with the goal of getting around 500 troops combat-ready within five-to-eight weeks.
- Calling on Germany: Poland's PM Mateusz Morawiecki said he wants Germany to supply a wide range of weapons to Ukraine, just as Berlin faces increasing pressure to approve battle tanks for Kyiv.
• Germany's Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht resigned after facing criticism for months over the country's stuttering response to the war in Ukraine. Lambrecht's resignation came a couple of days ahead of a crucial meeting of all defense ministers from Ukraine's allies, and as Berlin is under intense pressure to provide battle tanks to Kyiv.
- In other news: Germany’s police said they removed all climate activists from the Lützerath village after clashes broke out between the police and activists, who were gathered to protest the expansion of an open-cast lignite mine.
• The center-left Socialists and Democrats (S&D) that got embroiled in a corruption scandal at the European Parliament is set to eject two lawmakers after prosecutors requested that their protective parliamentary immunity be lifted. S&D, the second-biggest party group at the assembly, is seeking to insulate itself from further fallout in the bribing scandal linked to Qatar and Morocco, as justice authorities in Belgium target its members.
• Italy's most-wanted Mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro was arrested in Sicily after 30 years on the run. Alleged to be the boss of the notorious Cosa Nostra Mafia, Denaro was reportedly detained in a private clinic in Palermo where he was receiving treatment for cancer.
• Microsoft is likely to face an EU antitrust warning for its bid to acquire "Call of Duty" maker Activision Blizzard for $69 billion, Reuters reported. The European Commission is working on a statement of objections that will set out its concerns about the deal, which will be sent to Microsoft in the coming weeks, the report said.
• The CEO of Qatar Investment Authority said the sovereign wealth fund supports Elon Musk's vision for Twitter, even though Musk continues to face turmoil over its takeover. QIA, who helped finance Musk acquire Twitter by contributing $375 million, said they believe his leadership in terms of turning around the social media company.
• Ride-hailing giant Didi got approval from China to operate again, 18 months after its app was suspended in Beijing for "illegally collecting user data." The move comes as Beijing showed signs of easing up its regulatory crackdown on the tech sector, and Didi said it would take effective measures to ensure platform safety and data security.
• Parisians will get to vote on April 2 on whether they want to ban free-floating electric scooters or not, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo told Le Parisien, as the scooters' operating licenses are set to expire soon.
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