Friedrich Merz, Angela Merkel's old political rival, has set his sights on replacing her as head of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and potentially the German government. If successful, he would be the first German leader to come directly out of the so-called shadow banking system, and the first leader to have previously been a highly paid lobbyist for a global financial institution.
Shadow banks are generally defined as financial institutions that work like banks but aren't subject to the same regulatory systems. Their growing power, which dwarfs the likes of Amazon, Facebook, and Google (all of which BlackRock invests money in) means that financial market speculation has become one of the biggest movers of money in the world.
Merz heads the supervisory board of the German branch of BlackRock, the biggest asset management corporation in the world, which controls some $6.3 trillion (€5.56 trillion) in assets — twice Germany's gross domestic product.
Two venerable German researchers, political scientist Peter Grottian and finance expert Werner Rügemer, appeared in Berlin on Wednesday to warn against letting Merz take control of the German government. Working independently of any university, the two men produced a dossier on BlackRock and Merz because they believe the shadow banking system is not being properly explained in the media even with Merz as a frontrunner to replace Merkel.
The 14-page dossier claims that BlackRock is the global leader in a number of financial operations that specifically aid the super-rich: organizing shell companies (it manages more letterbox firms than anyone else in the world), dealing in "dark pool" financial markets (unregulated markets where major financial institutions trade securities), and creating near monopolies (such as the takeover of Bayer by Monsanto, completed this year).
Battle Loyale for CDU
Trump vs. Rubio it was not. Each candidate gave a 10-minute introductory speech and then all three stood on stage to take questions for two hours from the audience of more than 800, directed by a moderator. The most substantive difference between the three appeared to be their height, with Merz and Spahn, both nearly 2 meters tall, towering over Kramp-Karrenbauer, who stood between them on stage.
Merz has come under fire in recent days as Germany’s media has scrutinized his wealth (he’s become a millionaire corporate lawyer since leaving politics) and his affiliation with investment group BlackRock, where he serves as supervisory board chairman for Germany. He is also facing questions about statements he made as an active politician in the early 2000s, including a swipe at Berlin’s then mayor, who was gay. “As long as he doesn’t get too close to me I don’t care,” Merz told German weekly Stern at the time.
So far, Merz and Kramp-Karrenbauer have led the polls, with the younger Spahn a distant third. What influence popular opinion will have on the 1,001 delegates who will make the final decision at a party congress on December 7, isn’t clear.
CDU Leadership Polls
There is an enormous difference between the Nov 23 and the Nov 17 poll. One of them is severely wrong. In any case Spahn has no chance.
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, frequentely shortened to AKK, is General Secretary of the CDU and Merkel's hand-picked replacement.
With Merkel's backing, It is probable that AKK wins, but two Emnid polls have Merz in the lead.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock