The Berlin update: 17th March 2013

by Ares Kalandides

As every weekend my pick of the news from or on Germany. Today with the following topics:

1. Immigration to Germany

2. Calls for more state investment

3. Wealth distribution in Europe

4. Brazilian Adventure: a German Utility’s Multimillion Risks Abroad

5. Co-operative against exorbitant rents in Hamburg

6. Ten years of the “Agenda 2010”

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1. Immigration to Germany

A discussion on immigration from Romania and Bulgaria has triggered latent or manifest xenophobic expressions by German politicians. The above map shows where immigrants move to in Germany. Also very interesting is the percentage at the bottom of the graph, showing the growth of immigration from the crisis countries of southern Europe. Notice also the graph on the right, showing how immigration is “solving” Germany’s demographic problem.

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/press-review-on-blocking-romania-and-bulgaria-from-schengen-area-a-887668.html

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2. Calls for more state investment in Germany

The German economist and journalist Robert von Heusinger adds his voice to those who call for more investment by the state:

“That is the challenge for a new Agenda 2020! To explain to the people that state debt is not per se a bad thing, but that invested properly in the long term it can be worth the while and that it can make the country richer.  For such an agenda, we’d also have to change the structures. That begins with the debt ceiling, includes municipal finances and does not end with federal responsibility in education.”

http://www.berliner-zeitung.de/meinung/reform-der-staat-muss-investieren,10808020,22056694.html

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3. Wealth distribution in Europe

vermoegen

Average wealth and median (in thousand Euros) per adult .

The distribution of wealth in Europe: Red is the average wealth, dark blue is the median and light blue the gini-coefficient.

http://www.faz.net/aktuell/wirtschaft/europas-schuldenkrise/notenbankbericht-daten-ueber-reichtum-erst-nach-zypern-rettung-12110625.html

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4. Brazilian Adventure: a German Utility’s Multimillion Risks Abroad

EPX Group

EPX Group

“Looking for new growth markets, executives at German electrical utility company E.on saw what they thought could be a golden opportunity in Brazil. Now their local partner is threatened with major financial problems and the joint venture MPX may face billions in potential losses.”

Read the whole article here: http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/brazilian-adventure-a-german-utility-s-multibillion-risks-abroad-a-888073.html

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5. Co-operative against exorbitant rents in Hamburg

Preliminary sketch: instrument maker Kai Schupp and Polsterin Yvonne Rokita want to stay in Hamburg-Altona. Together with 15 other small businesses they are creating their own industrial park, the "Handwerkshof Ottensen".

Preliminary sketch: Kai Schupp and Yvonne Rokita want to stay in Hamburg-Altona. Together with 15 other small businesses they are creating their own industrial park, the “Handwerkshof Ottensen”.

The pressure to find alternatives to rising real estate prices is growing all over Germany. Both housing and business premises are becoming unaffordable for a large portion of the population. The new Housing Syndicate was created as a cooperative answer to that challenge. It is a network of 83 house projects that are linked together and are all organized independently. While community is the key word, old projects help new ones through their experience. The rents of the syndicate members are usually at least 20 percent below the normal local average. That includes interest repayments and a solidarity contribution to funded new projects.

http://www.spiegel.de/wirtschaft/service/mietwucher-das-mietshaeuser-syndikat-unterstuetzt-wohnprojekte-a-884855.html

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6. Ten years of the “Agenda 2010”

Prof. Christoph Butterwegge

Prof. Christoph Butterwegge

German news these last days were full with the celebration of Agenda 2010, the plan that Gerhard Schröder’s SPD (social democrats) implemented to reform the economy. Christoph Butterwegge, professor of political science at the University of Cologne, and a former member of the SPD, calls this a “blueprint for an unsolidary society”.

“If you analyze the argumentation and the rhetorical tools of the “agenda” speech, [14th March 2003] held shortly before the outbreak of the Iraq war, it is striking how it builds on the two grand narratives of our time: globalization and demographic change.  It is suggested that both of them force social and political adaptation. All social groups, claimed Schröder, had to accept sacrifices. Already in the title “courage for peace and courage for change” one can discern the interweaving of domestic reforms with Germany’s position in the world. Also, the two key concepts of “competitiveness” (of the economy) and of “personal responsibility” (of the workers and the unemployed) are related in this speech.   The latter would be a fitting prize for the “euphemism of the year” because it conceals the fact, that society and the state are increasingly withdrawing from their social responsibility.  Other neoliberal fashionable words like “flexibility”, “intergenerational equity” and “bureaucracy” can also be found in the “agenda” speech. […]

Those who believe that the concept of Agenda 2010 is outdated are enormously mistaken. Today it is recommended or imposed as part of a “fiscal pact” as economic, labour market and fiscal panacea on those countries in the Euro zone that are moste severely hit by the banking, currency and debt crisis. Together well the reduction in pension levels à la Riester (partial privatization of pensions), Rürup (introduction of the “sustainability factor”) and Müntefering (extension of working life by increasing the retirement age) power cuts in health care and wage dumping à la Hartz have become export successes of the federal government.”

http://www.wirtschaftundgesellschaft.de/2013/03/13/christoph-butterwegge-vorwarts-in-die-vergangenheit-–-gerhard-schroders-„agenda-2010“-–-blaupause-fur-eine-unsolidarische-gesellschaft/

About Ares

Ares Kalandides holds a PhD in Urban and Regional Studies from the National Technical University of Athens. He is the founder and CEO of Inpolis, an international consultancy based in Berlin, Germany and has implement several projects around the world. Ares teaches Urban Economics at the Technical University in Berlin and Metropolitan Studies at NYU Berlin.
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