What do the Germans Think of Obama?

Following a whirlwind global tour, US media coverage would have one believe that Mr Obama had wowed Europe’s most important nation. However, a close look by Der Spielgel at German reactions to Obama suggests they are rather cautious and less then-than-enthusiastic across the German political spectrum, though for far different reasons than American skeptics. Why? ‘Continuation of The War on Terror’ rhetoric and its implied obligations along with an expectation of increased commitments to Afghanistan are seemingly their prime concerns. Read the entire article in Der Spiegel’s Obama Summary
(hat tip to Ben Carliner)

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  1. m

    What does this have to do with financials? I can read The Superficial if I want to know what the freggin Germans think of Obama. Jesus christ.

  2. m

    Also, your “about me” section reads like it’s ripped right off of eHarmony. How about some credentials.

  3. Peripheral Visionary

    “Cassandra”, thanks for the link, I found it to be interesting. Don’t worry about the comments from “m”, when the cat is away the rats will play, or something like that. Yves has had an ongoing interest with the political campaign, and has linked to more than a few of these articles, so it’s not off topic.

    A continuing issue with Obama is the disconnect between his positions and those of the more progressive on the left. At least on economic matters, he has been leaning very centrist of late–or even populist, as in his most recent proposal of another stimulus check. Support for FNM/FRE is another page out of the centrist/populist playbook. He will have more than his foreign policy to reconcile with his supporters on the left as he goes forward.

  4. Anonymous

    Boo, off topic, next thing will be some dumbass crap about MCcoy and the dead republicans.move on away from politics, unless your talking Abe Lincoln or Hamilton..

  5. Anonymous


    Do you not think that the US relationship with the EU has at least some “financials”

    Do you not think the choosing war in Afghanistan over Iraq has some “financials”

    Do you not think that an Obama war in Afghanistan will cost at least as much as a Bush war in Iraq?

    Perhaps I don’t understand what you mean by “finacials”. Maybe you just mean the dismal mathematics of second hand car salesmen that leads you to your concern of “financials”.

    Or perhaps you mean that the only “financials” are those which keep all markets rising all the time. I think that’s perma-growth. And it is a financial impossibility.

  6. m

    anonymous: I don’t want to read my politics here. I think Yves’s politics are inane, and from what I see of the other posters like Cassandra it’s even worse. I have special disdain for their interest in social science.

    It’s pointless to throw around the word science without defining it properly. My definition is that science is a rigorous process by which objective procedures can confirm statements about the real world.

    Whatever “social science” may be, it is certainly not an experimental discipline in which hypotheses can be rigorously confirmed or refuted. Which means it is not a science at all, at least not as I use the word. Which means that, since it claims to be a science, it is a pseudoscience. Of course this is just a word I use, and may not correspond to anyone else’s definition.

    There are many reasons why people want there to be such a thing as “social science”, but one is that they’re looking for a formula by which government decisions can be made objectively – ie, in a way that means the decision is not just a product of the person, or in most cases committee, that made it.

    As far as I can tell, scientific government is a political perpetual-motion device. It cannot exist, it has never existed, and it will never exist. Certainly in the private sector it is generally recognized that management is an art, not a science, and almost all serious decisions are unavoidably subjective.

    I can excuse the writers of 1908 for saying that sociology, or scientific history, or political science, or any of these nefarious will-o-the-wisps, was in its infancy, like chemistry in 1608. In 2008 this is a little difficult to swallow – especially considering the number of atrocities that 20th-century governments perpetrated in the name of “social science.”

    The trouble with imperfectly controlled experiments, as Feynman so patiently explains, is that they are worse than no experiment at all: they allow the researcher to delude himself and others, baptizing his arbitrary prejudices with the holy water of statistics. A phenomenon hardly unknown in the “social sciences” of the 20th century.

    Worse, “social science” replaced an older tradition of government which was based on craft, experience, and common sense – in a word, phronesis. Rest assured that any governing authority both phronetic and plenary would not be tolerating, say, 30,000 rapes a year in the US.

    I read this site because of it’s perceptive analysis into the collapse of the financial markets, and its ripple effects on the rest of the economy. When Yves writes about what he knows – the financial markets – Naked Capitalism is a success. When he or the other posters diverge into areas of social science, I view the attempts as more or less abject failures.

  7. Anonymous

    I want Yves back right now. I don’t care for any of this plebian crap.

    I second that, Yves, get back here now, things are not going well! We need you, please call!!

  8. Anonymous

    WTF do The Germans think of covered bonds, would be far ore interesting and on topic than a political side-track

  9. Anonymous

    “m” – I would like to know how you define “the collapse of the financial markets”. As you state this as fact, is there a metric or objective set or criteria that has been fulfilled?

    Is it, in fact, a “collapse” or just a … “severe contraction in the availability of credit” at this point in time??



  10. m

    Doug, I view the collapse of the financial markets as ongoing. I think we're going to see dozens to hundreds of regional banks fail, and almost certainly some of the big boys as well before this is over. I think stabilization will occur when real estate prices bottom – a proposition which is probably a long way off. I could provide a lot of inductive evidence in support of this position – indeed, Yves writes about increasingly ominous signs in the financial markets daily – but I think the macro picture of where we're headed is fundamentally deductive in nature. I.e. you may or may not agree with my position, but if you are inclined, however, to be unconvinced, some pollyanna social scientist has facts and figures abound to unconvince you.

    Objective scientific procedures about the real world can certainly tell us that there is some correlation between trait X and behavior Y. In order to exclude the possibility that some confounding variable is producing this pattern – the famed "chopsticks gene," for example – we often have to think intuitively and subjectively.

    Thus, in order to obtain a meaningful result, we have both a scientific process, and one that is essentially literary and aesthetic. Lose either and the result has no validity.

    At least as I can tell from the work that is high-profile and/or well-connected enough to reach the Gray Lady these days, it seems very easy for "social scientists" to finesse around the intuitive side of the problem, and emphasize the numbers, models, etc. Moreover, I usually find that the intuitive, phronetic side is the interesting one.

    Thus my distaste for numbers in the study of society. Carlyle, as usual, expresses it more eloquently: http://books.google.com/books?id=3qQOAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA127&dq=carlyle+%22figures+of+arithmetic%22&ei=KKhXSJbzAY7WsAPOsqm-DQ#PPA124,M1

    Have you considered the following, for example, as a major contributing factor to the mess we're in?


  11. Fernando08

    third rate pseudo-intellectual. Doesn’t know about science, social science, etc. And people pay you to manage money? I assume you do not like the role of government in our lives. You rely on the market to create and maintain our social order. Is the demand for war elastic or inelastic? How about the inability to distinguish one discipline, such as physics, which is a recognized science from sociology which is also a recognized science. It is not based on the experimental method alone but by observation, measurable phenomena which can be recognized and used to explain and predict the behavior of events, whether storms or the amount of prisons we need to start building now based on the juvenile delinquency rate. We will need to reeducate finaciopaths such as yourself in the coming restructuring of America.

  12. Anonymous

    “m”, thanks for the reply. I agree – the financial crises will not be over until housing prices bottom, wherever and whenever that may be, and any calls for a bottom before that happens are bound to be premature.


  13. Hubert

    Somewhat nearer to the post,

    The Spiegel does not think, it opinionates for the social academic part of society in Germany. Sometimes they lead opinion like maybe the NYT in the US, sometimes not.
    We Germans basically like Obama and do not care too much about details. We like the story, his voice, and generally enjoyed this primary theater against Hillary, as we saw it as non-establishment winning.
    On Afganistan: We have some soldiers there on strategically untenable ground. They are supposed not to fight but maybe police a little bit. As we neither have the history nor the propaganda apparatus for embellishing our historical military endeavours (nor the birth rates for male soldiers) -we are ill-prepared to go into real action in Afganistan. Any government who sees more than, say 50 soldiers dying, would be pressured to take the troops back and it would be secondary if Bush or Obama would suggest otherwise.

    GErman military in Afganistan is a PR bluff for foreign and internal policy. Foreigners attribute historical belligerance to Germans confoundig it with Prussia. Two generations have grown up now learning about the misdeeds of german soldiers. There is no “real” military support we can give in Afghanistan. We could not stand the downside psychologically as a Nation.

  14. Anonymous

    Amazing! Yves goes away and the blog comments get hijacked by Moldbug’s collection of intellectual posers, serial namedroppers and various and sundry losers proudly showing off their brand new dictionaries.

    Ayyy, America.

  15. Yves Smith


    Most discussions of “markets” are hopelessly imbued with politics. And the people who seem most critical of those who talk about politics on financially oriented sites, per Anon of 7:48 AM, seem to be of the libertarian stripe.

    And your vitriol is unacceptable. I am about to go offline, but I am putting Ed Wright on notice. Ad hominem attacks will get your comments deleted.

Comments are closed.