Pioneer Briefing US Edition

Nuclear War, Climate Death, Stock Market Crash: This is How the Apocalypse Industry Works


Good Morning,

issuing a warning is the most effective way to capture the undivided attention of an audience.

S.O.S.: If you want to reach people, or even better, make them hysterical, you have to hit the panic button. There are high-impact trigger phrases that can raise the pulse of millions in just seconds: ‘nuclear war,’ ‘climate death’ and ‘stock market crash.’

Peter Sloterdijk © imago

Philosopher Peter Sloterdijk knows all too well the ominous forces at work within us:

For most, the perception of time is geared toward its imminent end.

Olaf Scholz © dpa

Apocalypse now: These days, the two at the forefront of nuclear fear are Olaf Scholz and Vladimir Putin, who have secretly set up a German-Russian joint venture– despite global sanctions against Russia. One threatens, the other flinches.

Eine Infografik mit dem Titel: Ukraine War: The Biggest Concerns

Most important issues for the population, in percent

The desired effect of this Scholz/Putin collaboration quickly took hold of the intended audience. Regardless of their political affiliations, Germans are most concerned about the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Greta Thunberg © imago

Greta Thunberg, Al Gore and Economics Minister Robert Habeck have long held the climate death patent. In a fight for the future, there can be no bystanders. Gas heaters must go, internal combustion engines must be scrapped and the government’s debt brake should be immediately released.

Wind Turbines at Sunrise © dpa

The new energy system is based on three ingredients: sun, wind and debt. Driving this transformation process is the energetic power of fear, the only truly renewable resource of modern society. Those who use it wisely, can bet on winning elections.

Nouriel Roubini © imago

Mr. Doom: The irony of Nouriel Roubini's self-proclaimed title' Mr. Doom' is not lost on us. He's a master at warning of stock market crashes in a beautiful yet frightening way, a skill that's earned him millions.

He piles up the words from his New York panic production in front of us like sticks of dynamite: Reckless speculation. Credit bubble. Tech crash. Irrational exuberance. The inevitable collapse. The boom turns into a bust.

Alice Weidel © dpa

The fear merchants: A new breed has (re-)emerged in the fear business: right-wing populists. They thrive on the fear of foreign invasion, which they successfully peddle even in areas with minimal migrant presence.

The power of xenophobia lies in its virtual, intangible nature. This fear cannot be touched, but it can be felt. The foreigner is much more useful to the fear merchant when he is unseen and unfamiliar than when he is a neighbor or colleague. Proximity and exposure damage the fear of foreign invasion.

Thilo Sarrazin © imago

The seasoned apocalypticist should never specify a date for the beginning of their predicted catastrophe. Everyone has learned from Thilo Sarrazin's failure: "Germany Abolishes Itself." That's what he titled his bestseller. Now, he has to live with the fact that Germany is very much alive and will likely outlive the now 79-year-old zealot.

Lesson Learned: It’s better to keep everything vague. You can tell the audience that a stock market crash and climate death are inevitable. However, the timing is never entirely sure.

Haunted House Principle: Setting a fixed date would be risky and as attractive as a brightly lit haunted house. The constitutive element of horror is precisely its unpredictability.

Agatha Christie (1962) © imago

Agatha Christie doesn’t reveal in the preface when the murderer will appear. In Friedrich Schiller’s ballad “The Hostage,” the tyrant’s murderer is careful to conceal his dagger, not carry it openly. Fear thrives on the vagueness of the announcement that must precede the occurrence.

Vladimir Putin © imago

The dilemma: The competition of fears isn’t a fair fight. Nuclear war has an unbeatable advantage. It promises something that it can and will deliver: the end.

The fear of nuclear war is the premium product of the apocalypse industry, which is why Greta Thunberg and her friends are currently struggling to redirect the spotlight to the imminent climate death.

You only die once.

The stock market crash fear is not faring well either. As prices rise, our worries seem to be unjustly pacified.

In our basement of fears, there lie many corpses of past worries. Previous anxieties that once had our undivided attention are just distant memories now.

Confidence as an antidote: It would be easier to tackle these fears if we immunized ourselves with optimism. It doesn’t take much – just a bit of confidence and hope.

  • Russia declared a national day of mourning after one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in its history.

  • Financial expert Erik Podzuweit discusses credit-financed stock returns and Germany's underdeveloped stock culture.

  • Omri Boehm received the Leipzig Book Fair 2024 Prize for European Understanding for his book "Radical Universalism: Beyond Identity."

Vladimir Putin mourns the victims of the attack on the Crocus City Hall concert hall © imago

Following one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in Russian history, Russia declared a national day of mourning yesterday. Last Friday, several gunmen stormed the Crocus City Hall northwest of Moscow.

Horrifying Numbers: According to the Russian State Investigative Committee, the attack resulted in the deaths of more than 130 people, with more than 150 others seriously injured, some of whom sustained critical injuries.

Responsibility: The Islamic State of Khorasan terrorist group, an offshoot of ISIS, openly claimed responsibility for the attack, releasing a video early on Sunday, apparently taken with the body camera of one of the attackers, depicting Friday's atrocities. Experts say the claim is authentic.

The Diversionary Tactic: President Vladimir Putin tried to pin this attack on Ukraine in a televised speech. Putin said that all of the attackers had been arrested but had intended to flee to Ukraine - thus continuing to focus attention on the ongoing war. Military expert Nico Lange asserts that such a strategy is imperative for the Kremlin:

Putin will use this attack as an excuse to adopt a harsher tone, possibly to take an even more aggressive stance against Ukraine.

Nico Lange © private


The duality of 'Islamic State carrying out attacks in Russia while Russia is engaged in an offensive war against Ukraine' poses a significant threat to Russia and could contribute to destabilization within the country.

Ukrainian President Zelensky responded emotionally and angrily to these accusations in his daily video address:

Rather than addressing and prioritizing the needs of Russian citizens, Putin remained silent for a day, contemplating how to blame the situation on Ukraine.

Erik Podzuweit, Managing Director of Scalable Capital © imago

Stock Pension: What countries like Norway have been doing for a long time is now becoming a reality here: The German government plans to invest taxpayers' money in the stock market to secure pensions. By the mid-2030s, the capital stock for the so-called "generation capital" is to grow to €200 billion. This year, the first portion of €12 billion will be financed through borrowing.

Eine Infografik mit dem Titel: Norway as a Role Model

Price performance of the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund, in trillions of US-Dollars

Erik Podzuweit has extensive experience in the financial sector and building digital business models. Most recently, he served as Co-CEO of Westwing Home & Living. In 2014, he co-founded the online asset management company Scalable Capital with Florian Prucker, Adam French and Prof. Dr. Stefan Mittnik.

In the Pioneer Podcast, we discussed the concept of credit-financed equity returns. When asked if he saw any risk in the government's approach of borrowing to invest, he answered:

The government can sustain such an approach over the long term. So if we assume that the stock markets will only give you five, six or seven percent returns in the long run, and I'm paying two percent in financing costs, it's still a good thing.

Podzuweit's suggestions for improvement include:

But we also need to finance generational capital without relying on borrowing. The government may consider selling off non-infrastructure investments or allocating funds from the budget.

We also talked about the development of German private investment behavior. Podzuweit observes that the Germans are in the process of developing a better equity culture despite all the caution:

Back then, many were invested in a single stock - usually telecoms. Nowadays, people are much smarter, and invest in broadly diversified portfolios, mostly in ETFs.

What else did the expert have to say about the underdeveloped equity culture in Germany and what needs to be done to revive it? You can listen to the whole interview in German here.

Click here to listen to today‘s episode of the Pioneer Podcast.

Dominating the field: Google, Meta and Apple - can they still be stopped? © The Pioneer

In a significant move to foster greater competition and transparency, the European Union's latest regulation, the Digital Markets Act (DMA), mandates leading technology corporations such as Meta, Apple and Google to open up their platforms. However, these tech giants are not standing by idly; they're deploying a range of strategies to navigate and, in some cases, sidestep these new regulatory frameworks. The ensuing months are critical, as they will reveal the extent of the EU's commitment to enforcing the DMA and its implications on the digital ecosystem and competitive landscape.

In the most recent edition of The Pioneer's Tech Briefing, my colleagues Lena Waltle and Christoph Keese discuss Big Tech's newest challenge: navigating the Digital Markets Act.

Lena Waltle © Anne HufnaglChristoph Keese © Anne Hufnagl

It comes as no surprise that Big Tech giants like Apple, Google, Meta, and TikTok are not welcoming the new regulations with open arms. They are delaying the process, feigning ignorance and keeping the regulatory authorities busy with large teams of lawyers, consultants and lobbyists. The financial implications of these tactics are hardly a deterrent for these corporations. A few million for legal costs is peanuts when a corporation’s market capitalization is equivalent to the gross domestic product of a G7 country, such as Canada or Italy.

Eine Infografik mit dem Titel: The Size Comparison

Comparison of the economic strength (GDP) of selected countries with the market capitalization of Big Tech companies, in trillion US dollars

The market opening up should lead to more innovation in Europe. Ideally, we will see five or six major search engines in a few years, with several trading platforms—lots of competition and, at the same time, simple and intuitive solutions.

For now, the EU Commission must prove that it will no longer allow itself to be swayed by corporations. Many regulatory experts are critical of the DMA. They say that these planned changes will hardly have any impact on competition. However, suppose the DMA successfully breaches the defenses of the Big Tech gatekeepers. In that case, it has the potential to foster greater competition and innovation rather than merely resulting in technical compromises that leave no one satisfied.

Click here to tune into their weekly podcast and hear their discussion with Dr. Andreas Schwab, a CDU politician and reporter for the DMA.

To read more, you can access the Tech Briefing Newsletter in German on our app and our website.


  • The German government is actively engaged in the Middle East. Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is visiting Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian territories. Scholz and Habeck were there recently. Their last visit to Israel was on January 7, 2024.

  • The 13th Chancellor's Dialogue with citizens will take place in the Brandenburg City Palace in the evening.

  • Quarterly reports are expected from Adesso SE, Synlab AG and Hypoport SE.


Robert Golob, Prime Minister of Slovenia, and Olaf Scholz  © dpa
  • Chancellor Scholz travels to Slovenia and meets with his Slovenian counterpart, Robert Golob. The focus will be on future cooperation.

  • The market research institute Growth for Knowledge (GfK) publishes the consumer climate index for March.

  • Quarterly reports are expected from CTS Eventim AG and Bertelsmann SE.


  • Chancellor Scholz’s cabinet will convene.

  • The European Commission publishes the Economic Sentiment Indicator for March 2024.

  • Quarterly reports are expected from Sixt SE, Mister Spex SE, Wüstenrot & Württembergische AG and Novartis AG.


Marcel Fratzscher © dpa
  • The Federal Employment Agency releases the German labor market statistics for March.

  • The German Institute for Economic Research releases its economic forecast.

  • Quarterly reports are expected from Hennes & Mauritz and Scout24 SE.


  • Germany observes Good Friday.

Omri Boehm © X/omri_boehm

Prize Winner: German-Israeli philosopher Omri Boehm was awarded the Prize for European Understanding at the Leipzig Book Fair 2024 for his book "Radical Universalism: Beyond Identity."

In his acceptance speech, he addressed critics of Israel's actions in Gaza. Boehm spoke of friendship and referenced the Ring Parable from G.E. Lessing's "Nathan the Wise:"

There can be no German-Jewish friendship if, in these dark times, there is no room for the brutal truths that must be spoken in the name of Jewish-Palestinian friendship. Any other idea would shame the model of Mendelssohn and Lessing. Nathan's parable of the rings has three rings, not two, and there will be at least three rings for us. For the sake of friendship, truth need not be sacrificed; on the contrary, hard truths must be spoken openly if we are to remain friends.

Julian Nida-Rümelin © Anne Hufnagl

Similar sentiments were expressed by the philosopher, author and former Minister of State for Culture, Prof. Julian Nida-Rümelin, in the Pioneer Podcast he said:

One must be able to sharply criticize the actions in Gaza without being labeled an anti-Semite.

Wishing you a wonderful start to your week. Stay informed. Stay with me.

Best wishes,

Pioneer Editor, Editor in Chief, The Pioneer
  1. , Pioneer Editor, Editor in Chief, The Pioneer

Editorial Team

Eleanor Cwik, Alexia Ramos, Nico Giese, Louisa Thoenig & Tatiana Laudien

With contributions from: Christian Schlesiger

Translation Team

Eleanor Cwik & Alexia Ramos

Graphics Team

Julian Sander (Cover Art)


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