Saturday Links: 30 January - 3 February 2017

Germany in the Age of Trump -- Project Syndicate -- Commentary by former German foreign minister and vice chancellor Joschka Fischer on the United States' turn inward, towards nationalism and perhaps even isolationism. Focusing on Germany, Fischer outlines how the resulting change in the world order would affect other countries that have relied on America's military might for protection. Germany has been among the chief beneficiaries, enabling it to concentrate on becoming an economic powerhouse rather than a military force that can defend itself in case of a conflict.

Forget Dow 20,000 — the Boom Times Are Over. Is Democracy Next? -- Foreign Policy -- Slightly polemic argument that democracy and liberalism may be in for tough times. Raising interesting questions: Is capitalism paired with democratic values the best model to generate prosperity and security, as has been believed throughout the 20th century, or could China's model of capitalism without democracy prove more successful? Has the past century's economic growth in Western countries really been the result of a good political system or has it merely been a byproduct of population growth? Must the Western world expect declining economic growth and dwindling prosperity now that the growth of its population is slowing down?

What defines a nation’s identity -- The Economist -- From the magazine's "Daily Chart" blog comes this illustration of how much weight the citizens of different countries give to certain factors that determine whether a person is accepted as somebody sharing the same nationality. For instance, being able to speak the national language seems to be the most important aspect for all countries that were part of the poll. Germans and Swedes don't seem to care much about another person's religion. For Greeks sharing national customs and being Christian is apparently a big deal.

Is Steve Bannon the Second Most Powerful Man in the World? -- Time -- Portrait of the man who, in his new role as Chief White House Strategist, has not only helped Donald Trump get elected by shaping the president's narrative of a movement towards a new political order in America, but who might also become one of the most powerful people behind the scenes in Washington. Whether Trump likes Bannon getting this much attention remains to be seen. If Trump really is a puppet, like many of his critics and now Time magazine opine, the question to ask would be: Whose hand is up Trump's ass? Bannon's? Putin's? (Excuse the groaner. That one was irresistable.) Personally, I believe the president is perfectly capable of forming his own ideas though... for better or worse.

Bundesbank: Half of German gold to be stored in Germany by 2020

The Bundesbank's Carl-Ludwig Thiele recently told Handelsblatt that the central bank was going to have half of the country's gold reserves stored within Germany by 2020. However, as we know, repatriation efforts have been very slow so far. Of the 700 tons of gold the Bundesbank wants to transport from New York and Paris into Germany, it only managed to repatriate about 40 tons over the course of last year.

According to the central bank's original plan, a total of 150 tons was to be moved from New York City to Frankfurt by the end of 2015, but that target has since been doubled. In the interview with Handelsblatt, Mr Thiele said that the Bundesbank would only repatriate a further 30 to 50 tons this year, begging these obvious questions:

Is the Bundesbank even able to repatriate as much gold as it wants to?

If not, what are the apparently unforeseen factors that have caused the delays in the physical gold deliveries?