HARTMUT ELSENHANS PDF

Should other eurozone countries show Germany the door? Read this article in German or Russian. Berlin has made only the smallest of steps towards the French position. Rather, the weight of international competitiveness falls on the shoulders of workers in export industries, and it is precisely these industries in which employment is booming and there is a growing shortage of qualified labour. This means that German jobs are created by the readiness of its eurozone partners to take on sovereign debt. What becomes clear is that Germany has turned southern Europe into a periphery that it exploits to keep its export industries running.

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Should other eurozone countries show Germany the door? Read this article in German or Russian. Berlin has made only the smallest of steps towards the French position. Rather, the weight of international competitiveness falls on the shoulders of workers in export industries, and it is precisely these industries in which employment is booming and there is a growing shortage of qualified labour.

This means that German jobs are created by the readiness of its eurozone partners to take on sovereign debt. What becomes clear is that Germany has turned southern Europe into a periphery that it exploits to keep its export industries running. All of this has contributed to the current populist destabilisation. Hints from Berlin that it may be willing to make changes to its economic formula are too hesitant and too late. What becomes clear is that Germany has turned southern Europe into a periphery that it exploits to keep its export industries running; Berlin has created an EU that is split between a highly productive export economy at its centre and stagnant activity on its southern rim.

An unsustainable model No conservative economist would seriously claim that the permanent German trade surplus would not, under normal circumstances, naturally lead to the value of its currency going up and its workers becoming more expensive in international comparison. But German workers are still being told that their willingness to forgo pay rises makes them morally superior to lazy southern Europeans.

Since the current German economic model is not sustainable, the French president has made the Federal Republic an offer: a new way of growing jointly and increasing European integration.

He wants a mild form of transfer union and a common budget for the eurozone to finance infrastructure and development projects in weaker economies. And indeed, post-war German history shows that it was only decades of subsidies from the richer states that helped Bavaria transform from an underdeveloped net receiver to a productive contributor.

Moreover, demand from other states played no small part in this — and powerful unions like IG-Metall never once argued that wage rises in industrialised North-Rhine Westphalia would lead to jobs draining away to underdeveloped, low-wage Bavaria. In the end, a eurozone budget will not be enough to really even out the differences within Europe. In other words, those who want to ensure there are no large-scale transfers between eurozone countries need to start by fostering wage growth within Germany.

In a sign of how orthodox this point of view has become, corporate Germany has received the dubitable honour of being the first group of capitalists to be told by the International Monetary Fund — not exactly known for its opposition to neoliberal economics — to just get on with it and put wages up in an effort to stop the world economy becoming even more chaotic than it already is.

No sacrifice for German workers To put it very clearly, Germany needs to learn that trade surpluses are not a Prussian virtue, but rather a vice with a corrosive effect on global economic cooperation. In the end, a eurozone budget will not be enough to really even out the differences within Europe; given the unpopularity of the solidarity surcharge on income tax in Germany introduced to pay for unification — to keep the country together on a national level — it is easy to see just how small the political room for manoeuvre is for those proposing a transfer union.

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