Here's a quick list of how to annoy Germans, especially Germans you want to have buy something from you.
1) At the very last moment, come up with new numbers that raises the price significantly, and pretend like it's no big thing.
2) When your Germans express annoyance, feign astonishment that anyone would react that way.
3) When the Germans have their own plans and interests, become angry and blame them for screwing everything up.
These are the lessons learned from the talks that the Treasury held with the German government yesterday on how to separate Opel from GM.
The Germans are now seeing the face of Chicago politics: that wasn't supposed to be a meeting to work out how the deal was going to go down, that was supposed to be a meeting where the Germans rolled over and begged for mercy. The Germans thought they had been informed and that they had parameters within which they could work out a deal that they could live with: they're partially in a state of shock that anyone would seriously use such tactics at such a late stage in the game.
It is going to be as much a learning experience for the Chicago Gang that the rest of the world isn't Chicago, as it was for the Germans to finally meet up with some real Chicago politicians. Opel is now pretty much doomed, unless, of course, the Germans come up with a deal that is acceptable to the Obama Administration: if GM enters Chapter 11 before that happens, then Opel is, to use the Chicago vernacular, truly fucked.
And here's a word to the Obama Administration: Germans aren't dumb. They don't pull their weight internationally because they don't want to. They know the world is a dangerous place and are experts in avoiding conflicts, avoiding having to take a stance and join a side, because it is opportune to do so and German politicians are, if anything, opportunists. Give them a way out and they will take it; give them a way to posture without making any commitments - like being the 20th country to condemn something - and they will spend a day in the Bundestag giving speeches about how something or other is terrible, but not their fault.
But this? This was gratuitous and completely unnecessary, as far as the Germans are concerned. We are seeing how the Obama Administration works: welcome to Chicago.