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German Cycles give a better Ride

The article was written for OMFIF and is published here with the permission of the author.

By Bob Bischof

Was the headline of an article I wrote for the Guardian in 1994 trying to explain why the post-war business cycles in the two countries were so markedly different, and what mechanisms Germany used to flatten the cycles by anticyclical fiscal and monetary means.

The main one being of course the so-called Kurzarbeit – a kind of furlough system – helping companies in cyclical downturns to keep their staff and to prevent a vicious downward spiral of job losses, falling demand, more job losses etc etc. This system is particularly effective as it is insurance based. During the upswings in the cycle this hypothecated pot swells up and can be released during the downward leg without the cost falling immediately on the public purse.

Both employers and employees are sharing the cost of the unemployment insurance and both benefit – employees in case they are actually made redundant and employers can apply for help with their wage bill and don’t have to go through the expenses of paying for redundancy, when the order book drops and in the next upswing for the re-hiring and re-training cost.

When Peter Mandelson, now Lord Mandelson, was evaluating this during his tenure as President of the Department of Trade and Industry (now BEIS), he dismissed it as unsuitable for the UK, as it would be misused (noting some of the stories about the present furlough system, maybe, he wasn’t too wrong.)

Later Gordon Brown boasted with his famous phrase “no more booms and busts” only to be hit shortly after by the worst kind of recession since the Wall Street crash of 1929/30. In Germany for example unemployment rose by around 200.000 with employees in Kurzarbeit at 1.8 million; in the UK unemployment peaked at over 2 million or 8% of the workforce in 2010/12.

Cyclical ups and downs are as old as described in the bible as the seven fat years and the seven lean years. Business cycles vary in length and can be extended by massive fiscal and/or monetary intervention as we have seen since the 2008/9 banking crises. This time the recovery lasted nearly ten years, but was finally crashed by an unforeseen event, the COVID-19 pandemic.

The policies to get over the economic impact will be the same as in previous recessions. Countries with prudent fiscal policies will fare better than those with lose ones. The same goes of course for private households. In countries with low saving rates and high debt levels, the impact will be more severe and the state has to bail more people out with taxpayers’ money. Once more the Northern European states once again will be first out of the traps with the UK and the South suffering most hardship.

Is it possible to learn the lessons from these re-occurring events? The Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak seems to think so, when he changed the current furlough system to the more German type of Kurzarbeit. Changing, however the benefit side of the scheme is one thing, the funding and supervisory side is a lot more difficult.

Firstly, the funding needs to be in place and the idea of anything hypothecated and anti-cyclical is hard to imagine being introduced in the UK let alone the necessary additional tax for employees and employers. Secondly, the question of supervising such a scheme to prevent fraud and supporting lame ducks needs regional input from banks, local communities, job centres and HMRC.

The institute that deals with this in Germany and that reports to the Ministry for Labour is the Bundesagentur fuer Arbeit or short Arbeitsamt, which sports 96,000 full time employees in 156 regional “Arbeitsamters “and 900 local jobcentres.  Interestingly the “Arbeitsamt” has a budget of around Euro 40 billion and is “self-administered” and has a supervisory board with employer and employee representation.

The combination of the latter also plays an important role in the acceptance or not of employer requests for Kurzarbeit support, thus to helping ensure the proper allocation of funding. This infrastructure came in handy when in April this year 155,000 firms received Kurzarbeit support (highest year before was 2008 with 55.000 firms receiving it).

The furlough system had to be created quickly and deficiencies were to be accepted. Let us hope Mr Sunak gets the new scheme right for the long term and can proof Lord Mandelson wrong. It won’t be easy.

Bob Bischof

3.10.20

 

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Bernard Molloy 1948 – 2019

Bernard Molloy, a board member of the German British Forum for more than 10 years and a UK logistics industry veteran, passed away peacefully on 19th May after a brave battle recovering from a serious operation. Bob Bischof, chairman of the German British Forum and friend of Bernard’s for many years, pays this tribute to a legend of the logistics industry.

Bernard Molloy 1948 – 2019

Bernard has been a member of the German British Forum Board since 1999.

His untimely death means not only a great loss to the GBF but also for my colleagues and I on the board it means that we have lost a true friend.

He was in more ways than one – to use one of his phrases – “a proper chap”. His role in the organisation of our last conference in his beloved Liverpool was key in making it a great success. But beyond his work he was a warm, helpful and giving person all round. In the last few years he made a substantial contribution to getting young people into proper apprenticeships. He was proud of his humble background and the fact that he made it “from the shop floor to the top floor” – from an engineering apprenticeship and fork lift truck service engineer to Managing Director of first Hako Cleaning Machines to CEO of Lansing Linde, Britain’s largest lift truck maker.

On a personal note I have known Bernard for more than forty years, skied with him in the Alps and water-skied with him in Barbados. We worked in the same industries together as competitors and later colleagues and remained true friends. He will be sorely missed by all who truly knew him.

 

Bob Bischof
Chairman, German British Forum
3 June, 2019

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Chair of German-British Chamber Patricia Godfrey retires from CMS

Patricia Godfrey, board chairman of the German British Chamber of Commerce and vice-president of the German British Forum, hosted a party to celebrate her retirement at CMS in London on 30 April.

More than 120 friends and colleagues, with both a large German and Irish contingent, joined Patricia to see her career “highlights reel” featuring photos of colleagues and clients down the years, and her first boss’s shopping list for How to be Good Associate, at CMS offices on Cannon Place.

After a career spanning more than 35-years in law, specialising in complex restructures and insolvencies, Patricia retired from the legal firm, where she had been a partner at first Nabarro LLP and then merged firm CMS since 1991, to pursue other business interests. She is developing new business interests and advising companies, especially those in craft industries, on strategy, growth and exports.

Patricia thanked colleagues old and new for supporting her through her career, mentioning several individuals at her first firm, Nabarro and CMS, as well as friends at the German British Chamber and clients.

A colleague and professional poet read a poem about her career full of warm anecdote and praise for her career and expertise. Senior partner at CMS Andrew Inkester made a tribute to her career, noting her “patrician” qualities of nobility, good education and application.

She remains a visiting lecturer at Kings College London on the International LLM programme and is on the Risk & Advisory Committee of Cockpit Arts – an award winning Social Enterprise based in Holborn & Deptford and the UK’s only business incubator for crafts people.

In the next phase of her life, Patricia wants to share the skills and experience gathered over the years with those in the early stages of their careers. She is developing her business network and is looking for opportunities to help companies grow.

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Merkel’s Germany: Shaper or Taker of a United Europe?

As Europe’s largest economy struggles to find its future path, what about calls that Germany is Europe’s hegemon?

By Bob Bischof, published in The Globalist on December 15, 2017
https://www.theglobalist.com/germany-merkel-macron-eu-europe/

As Germany’s main political parties struggle to find a formula for a new coalition agreement under Angela Merkel’s leadership, the rest of Europe is testing the waters.

Some argue nothing in Europe can move forward with a Germany occupied with itself. Others relish German paralysis. Yet again others fear German dominance no matter what. That is quite a spectrum of opinion.

Where should the future European journey go?

The majority of Europe’s political elites are trying to determine the proper pathway. Should there be further integration towards a United States of Europe?

Is such a move not mandated as a proper global counterweight in a world marked by the incessant rise of China, the hard-to- calculate Russians and the demise of the United States under Trump as the leader of the free world?

France’s President Emmanuel Macron has definitely defined such a response as his main aim. He needs Germany to come on board, not least to guard against the centrifugal powers of populism that are rising throughout most of Europe and keen to destroy his dream.

Spreading ominous thinking

But where does Germany stand? Is it really tearing apart at the fringes? That’s the suggestion of many who see the German elections in the dark light, on account of the success of the extreme left and right parties. Sections of the British press compared the right-wing AfD‘s march into the Bundestag to events in 1930.

Fortunately, this is far from the reality. Germany’s centrist parties scored an overwhelming 78% of the vote.

Still, one cannot deny or underestimate the disruptive danger of populism. In Poland and Hungary, for example, populists are making hay out of old fears and tribal aspirations.

German hegemony?

One underlying thread that united much political analysis throughout Europe is the fomenting of fears that is associated with the talk of a new German hegemony. In my view, that is just alarmist talk, designed to whip up the forces of populism in whatever country whose leaders think in those terms.

 Others present a milder suggestion. For example, David Marsh in a recent article on The Globalist talks about a rerun of the Holy Roman Empire of German Nations in the Middle Ages.

That, too, sounds ominous. However, any student of history knows that Germany‘s neighbors would have nothing to fear.

That Empire was never dominated from the center. In fact, the center was kept deliberately weak. Power resided in the leaders of the constituent parts of that empire, who elected whoever the new emperor would become. It was thus anything but an effective political entity.

If anything, that Holy Roman Empire – transferred to our era – actually resembles quite closely the European model which the UK always has in mind.

If one wants to compare the European present with the past, the first German reunification in 1871 is a more fitting example. Driven by the onset of the industrial revolution (today’s equivalent of globalization in terms of its transformative powers), first a customs union was created. Then, under strong leadership by Prussia, came monetary and political union.

But even that parallel doesn’t really fit for various reasons. Anybody looking for a clearer understanding of Germany’s multi-layered historic, social and cultural role in Europe should read Stephen Green‘s excellent book “Germany the Reluctant Meister.“ He hits the nail on the head.

What about Angela Merkel?

Frau Merkel‘s Germany needs France much more than the French need the Germans. Herself long on desire, but short on actual vision, she would like nothing better than Monsieur Macron driving the European project forward. To her delight, he has taken the initiative. He is her “vision king.”

True, unlike the SPD – her potential governing partner – Merkel will only be a reluctant follower when it comes to German taxpayers shouldering too much of the cost of futher European integration.

But I am sure Merkel believes it is a reasonable price to pay, all the more so as she can rely on the Social Democrats to provide her sufficient political cover. They will allow her to convince most of her voters, who want the CDU to govern, that this is worth the cost.

Which leads to one big question in the European context: Will the SPD jump aboard the Merkel bandwagon once again?

The reason why I feel confident about a rerun of the last coalition is that the Social Democrats need not to fear playing second fiddle to her and falling further back in the next election. This is definitely Merkel’s last term in power. In fact, it would be a surprise if she stayed the full term.

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Equant Analytics June Trade Outlook

Article 50: time to take a strategic look at trade

Almost as soon as the dust settles after the UK election, the Article 50 process to negotiate the UK’s exit from the EU will start. The UK so far has relied on a conciliatory Europe led by a Germany that was genuinely saddened by the loss of its like-minded Anglo-Saxon ally and therefore more likely to drive the bloc towards compromise. The G7 and NATO summits at the end of May, and the inauguration of President Macron have changed all that. Europe is finding a new assertiveness on the global stage. This was articulated by Chancellor Merkel in her Munich speech; she argued that the US and the UK could no longer be relied upon and that Europe must find its own voice to promote its own interests. And while much of the rhetorical anger in the speech may simply be attributed to electioneering, it serves as a wake-up call to the UK. Europe will have its own strategic interests when it starts the negotiations and the UK would do well to be aware of what these are.

Trade is political and this makes it strategic – that is, something that can be used as a tool to promote national or regional interests in economic or foreign policy terms. In this, EU negotiators will be keen to protect Europe’s economic and energy security as well as increasingly focused foreign policy interests.

The EU’s top ten export and import trade flows by sector with the UK are automotives, machinery (including computers), pharmaceuticals, electrical equipment and oil and gas (Figure 1). The top fifteen trade flows by sector add optical, photographic and medical equipment, plastics and aerospace. These are not just the top trade sectors for the EU as a whole; they are also among the top sectors for Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Belgium and the UK.

Given that Europe exports to the UK some 85% more than it imports from the UK, it has been assumed that the cards are stacked in the UK’s favour. However, trade “wars” are reciprocal: one side imposes tougher arrangements and the other retaliates. As these are the top sectors for the UK as well, and as Europe is the UK’s largest export destination for each of these sectors, it will be important to bear in mind that the symbiotic relationship in these sectors are because of Europe-wide supply chains. Everyone will lose without some compromise.

Figure 1: Top 15 trade flows by sector between EU and UK (exports and imports, 2016, US$ bn)
Source: Equant Analytics, 2017

The second thing to note is just how concentrated this trade is. The top ten flows account for 53% of Europe’s trade with the UK. Add in plastics, optical and medical equipment and aerospace (the 11th and 12th largest flows and in the top five for Germany, France and Italy) and the top flows account for over 60% of Europe’s trade with the UK (Figure 2).

Again, the dominance of exports to the UK is clear – the top four sectors are all exports to the UK and constitute over 31% of Europe’s trade with the UK. Again, however, the importance of Europe-wide supply chains is critical. The UK is a large export market for German cars and automotive components, but this is because the UK is a major location within Europe for the manufacture of German cars. While this may appear that Germany is more dependent on the UK than the other way around, the UK’s exports of cars to the US has grown at an annualized rate of 9% and to China at an annualized rate of 13% over the past five years. This is not all attributable to German manufacturers, but there is no doubt that this has had an influence.

Figure 2:  Share of EU trade with the UK, top fifteen sectors, 2016 (%)
Source: Equant Analytics, 2017

Finally, the EU 27’s trade is 73% correlated with the value of the euro since 1998 suggesting that it is a trade-based currency rather than a speculative one. Its trade with the UK is slightly weaker at 70% but this is still substantial. (Figure 3). The euro is the world’s second largest trade finance currency and its position and strength can therefore be seen as a function of the strength of Europe’s trade. This is a quite distinct function for the euro and explains why Germany in particular has been keen to hold the Eurozone together: the euro’s economic importance is in trade and as supply chains develop across the region, this becomes more rather than less important. Just as is the case for Europe, a stable euro for the UK ensures that prices within the supply chains into which UK businesses are woven are also stable.

Figure 3:  EU 27 exports to UK vs euro-usd spot price, 1998-2016
Source:  Equant Analytics, 2017

Elections distort rhetoric and there is anger in Europe about the UK’s bellicose tone which, along with Trump’s visits at the end of May provoked the response from Angela Merkel that former allies could no longer be trusted and that Europe would have to go it alone. The danger is that rhetoric becomes entrenched on both sides after the election in the UK because there is still a long way to go before the German election. This would be a negotiating mistake on the part of the UK. Europe’s and the UK’s trade is almost symbiotic because of the importance of supply chains. Policy makers on both sides would do well to remember this.

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One year on, how do we bridge the Brexit divide?

This article is written by Lord Peter Mandelson and was first published on 22 June 2017 in the Financial Times. The original article is here.

 

Of all the questions posed by the UK government’s evaporated parliamentary majority, the most important is what British voters now want from Brexit. One ‘softer’ than set out in Theresa May’s Lancaster House speech in January? Almost certainly, as polls now show. But what does that mean? And how do we work to turn ill-defined talk of softness into something concrete and politically acceptable both in Britain and Europe.

The first softening that has to happen straightaway concerns posture: clear acceptance that no deal would be a catastrophic failure rather than an assertion of UK confidence and machismo; a constructive tone on money and EU citizens’ rights that understands why a fair deal on these things matters as much to the union as it does to the UK; no more bluster about regulatory competition between us and the continent.

So much will be built on trust between the two sides, this tone cannot be more important. Flirting with unsustainable tough talk for domestic consumption will backfire — they read our newspapers. But the real issue is how to put fresh focus on an agreement that respects the will of UK voters while mitigating the job losses and sacrifice in living standards.

Mrs May called for a deep and comprehensive free-trade agreement. But the UK prime minister is not going to get it with her existing red lines, especially for regulated services. It would have to include a willingness by the UK to consider forms of regulatory alignment and enforcement with the EU, for example in finance and broadcasting, to maintain our privileged market access. Tying our standards to EU ones in return for market access is the essence of an intelligent debate about where regulatory autonomy and access to our largest market need to be balanced.

The government should put renewed emphasis on the hints in the Lancaster House speech that the UK wants to remain closely aligned with the EU in research, aviation policy and security. We should include Euratom in this. We should be clear that we see ourselves caucusing with the EU on everything from climate change and multi-lateralism in trade policy to global financial standards. We should maintain unified capital markets, even if that means binding the UK into close supervisory co-operation with the EU.

The government should proactively argue that taking back control of migration policy does not mean closing the door to visa free travel or ending an open approach to European citizens who want to work in the UK where the labour market needs them. Rejecting the principle of freedom of movement has to give way to a discussion about how it would work in practice.

The prime minister needs to deliver a Lancaster House Mark 2. Staying in the customs union is important, although originally ruled out in January in order to signal new UK autonomy in trade policy. There is no point in pretending this does not involve compromising the UK’s ability to set its own external tariffs — and by implication its ability to negotiate independent trade deals on goods. But meaningful trade deals of this kind will be hard to achieve and are, in any case, only one part of what an autonomous trade policy means. It would also mean compromise in aligning with EU product standards and in a common approach to industrial subsidies.

But these compromises need to be weighed against the benefits: eliminating tariffs with our largest market; no origin requirements for goods and components. Even aligning with EU standards has the upside of creating a level playing field in which UK firms can rely on mutual recognition in the single market. Staying in the customs union, or, to a greater extent in the single market via something like EEA membership, would mean losing some control over EU rules but retaining all the associated trade benefits of the single market. There is no simple answer here. But there is a necessary debate.

Finally, it is important to recognise that without such compromises a hard Brexit means leaving the EU without transitional arrangements and minus the clear prospect of a deep and comprehensive trade agreement. Such a cliff edge, and without the legal continuity provided by the Great Repeal Bill, would be a disaster.

The distinction between hard and soft Brexits has always been an elastic concept. It understates how much could be possible if the accent was put on innovative policy approaches, with a large injection of pragmatism and compromise, and a wider view of the UK’s role as an EU partner. Global Britain is all well and good. It is time to be a whole lot clearer about what a European Britain will look like in the future.

 

 

 

 

Image: Pixelbliss/Shutterstock.com

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Britannien schwankt

 

This article is written by Thomas Kielinger OBE and was published in Die Welt on 3rd July 2017. The original article is here.

 

Elisabeth II. sprach von einer dunklen Stimmung, „a somber mood“, die sich über das Land gelegt habe. Es war ein ungewöhnlicher Ton in der Geburtstagsmessage der Queen in diesem Jahr. Noch lodert in der Erinnerung die Brandfackel des 23stöckigen Hochhauses in Nord Kensington. Die bewegenden Beispiele von spontaner Hilfe einfacher Menschen in dieser Albtraumnacht können nicht die bohrende Frage wegwischen: In was für einem Land leben wir eigentlich? Wie kann man einen Apartment-Turm von 129 Wohnungen derart ungeschützt lassen gegen Feuer? Mit Isolierungsmängeln im Innern und einer Außenverkleidung, die wider alle Vorschriften kostensparend aus leicht inflammablen Material bestand, aber schön anzusehen war, damit die reichen Nachbarn aus Kensington und Chelsea nicht Anstoß nehmen müssen an dem Memento der Armut?

 

Die private Management-Firma ist bis heute nicht einmal in der Lage, eine Belegliste der Wohnungen vorzuweisen, mit Namen, Zahlen und Daten, was wenigstens bei der Suche nach Vermissten helfen würde.

 

149 im Eilverfahren untersuchte Wohnhaustürme im Land sind sämtlich mit ähnlichen Makeln behaftet wie das Grenfell-Hochhaus in London, die Sicherheit der Bewohner kann also nicht garantiert werden. Dass es sich in allen Fällen um Sozialunterkünfte handelt, spricht eine eigene Sprache. Man leistet sich eine Klasse von meist dem multikulturellen Milieu entstammenden Menschen, vielfach Immigranten, Arbeitslose oder von schlecht verdienender Arbeit Abgängige, oft mit nur wenig Englisch, ein Bodensatz von Nichtintegrierten, die um Anschluss ringen und ihn nicht finden. Sie wurden ins Land gelassen von einer überaus toleranten Gesellschaft, deren Stadträte die Verwaltung dieser sozialen Flut an Privatfirmen delegieren, die nicht genau hinsehen, es es nicht so genau nehmen, die aber sehr genau auf den Kostenpegel achten, den sie senken, um den Auftrag zu sichern. Die Kehrseite von Toleranz ist Indifferenz, das sich-nicht-Kümmern, ein laissez-faire der Hinnahme von nicht hinnehmbaren Zuständen.

 

England scheint derzeit von den sieben biblischen Plagen heimgesucht. Infelix Britannia. Das Land schaut in den Spiegel, verwirrt über das eigene Bild. Das Gesicht eines vielfach zersplitterten Gemeinwesens, in alle mögliche Richtungen tendierend, nur nicht in die eine: hin zu mehr Eintracht, Kohäsion. Widersprüchlichkeit ist in das britische Wappen eingedrungen, Löwe und Einhorn senken das Haupt. Am Horizont flackern Irrlichter. Brexit? Was verheißt der Brexit, der binnen 18 Monaten verhandelt sein soll im ersten Anlauf, damit er bis März 2019 ratifiziert wird? Dessen Ausgang niemand beschreiben kann, so wenig wie der Wetterbericht den englischen Sommer? Im Kabinett herrscht Dissens über lauter Chimären: Harter Brexit, weicher Brexit, Zolluniun ja oder nein, der Übergang in die Zeit danach – ein unaufhörliches Gerangel. Lehrerin May scheint ihre Schuklasse nicht unter Kontrolle zu haben.

 

Oder führt Pirandello heimlich Regie unter den so genannen führenden Köpfen „auf der Suche nach einem Autor“? David Davis, der Brexit-Minister, ist für eine rasche Implementierungsperiode nach dem Amputationsdatum 29. März 2019. Philip Hammond dagegen, der Schatzkanzler, besorgt um einen harten wirtschaftlichen Aufprall, denkt an eine längere Übergangsfrist, bei festen Übereinkünften mit Brüssel, vielleicht für weitere drei Jahre nach 2019. Die Medien, schlagzeilensüchtig, reiben sich genüsslich die Hände, das Volk weniger.

 

Kater breitet sich aus. Was haben wir uns mit dem Referendum vor einem Jahr angetan? Man höre, was eine glühende Brexit-Vertreterin wie die bayrische Ex-Abgeordete der Labour-Partei, Gisela Stuart, dem Autor eines neuen Buches „Wie man ein Referendum verliert“ in sein Aufnahmegerät diktiert hat: „Eine Volksabstimmung? Die hätten wir über den Lissaboner Vertrag abhalten sollen, mit seinen klar definierten Positionen. Dann kam Cameron und warf diese nichtssagende Referendumsfrage in die Luft – Ja oder Nein. Das hätte er nicht tun sollen. Die Art und Weise, wie er das Referendum inszenierte, war ein Missbrauch des demokratischen Prozesses.“ Donnerwetter – für diesen „Missbrauch des demokratischen Prozesses“ treibt man dann die Brexit-Sau durchs Dorf? Will hier jemand mit der nachgereichten Kritik das eigene Bild in der Geschichte, na, sagen wir mal salopp, ein wenig „fotoschoppen“, frisieren?

 

Was sollen die Wähler davon halten? Nur ein Jahr nach dem Referendum wirkt sein Ausgang wie ein Fanal. Es ist ein schwankender Boden der Selbstbefragung, landauf, landab, auf dem die Briten jetzt in die wichtigste Entscheidung ihrer Nachkriegsgeschichte stolpern. „Frailty, thy name is woman“, klagt Hamlet. Nein, Schwachheit, dein Name ist Brexit.

 

Theresa May kann der allgemeinen Unsicherheit keinen Halt bieten, ist sie doch selber das personifizierte Fragezeichen schlechthin. Auch in der Innenpolitik. Seit acht Jahren durchlaufen öffentliche Angestellte die Durststrecke von nicht mehr als ein Prozent Lohnsteigerung pro Jahr – eine Erosion von Lebensqualität, von erschwinglichem Leben. Aufgeschreckt durch Jeremy Corbyn, dem Ankläger solcher Austerity, dachten Stimmen im Kabinett laut darüber nach, ob diese Ein-Prozent-Obergrenze, eine allmählich unzumutbare Härte, nicht wegfallen sollte. In einer ersten Unterhaus-Abstimmung darüber schlossen sich dann die Reihen – die jetzt schon wieder aufbrechen. Der Druck von der Straße, aber auch von Abgeordneten der Regierungspartei, wird größer. So hangelt sich Theresa May mit ihren nordirischen Hilfskräften von Abstimmung zu Abstimmung. Wie lange das gut geht, weiß niemand.

 

Nicht als ob dieser Wanderprediger Corbyn mehr Kohärenz vorzuweisen hätte, beim Brexit oder wo auch immer. Die Unterstützung für die britische Atomwaffe zum Beispiel, die U-Boote der Trident-Klasse, ließ er listig ins Wahlprogramm seiner Partei streuen, Sand in die Augen des Publikums. Aber unlängst schwang er sich volkstribunhaft auf die Bühne des Glastenbury Music-Festivals und verriet der frenetischen Menge sein anti-nukleares Credo: Würde er Regierungschef, käme Trident sofort auf die Abschussliste.

 

Immer, wenn sie geeint war, widerstand die Insel den Stürmen der Geschichte. Heute aber ist sie es nicht, und da genau liegt der Grund für die dunkle Stimmung, welche die royale Psychoanalytikerin ausgemacht hat, gewiss auch bei sich selber.

 

 

Image: qoppi/Shutterstock.com

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Theresa May bewaffnet sich gegen ihre Feinde

 

This article is written by Thomas Kielinger OBE and was published in Die Welt on 19th April 2017. The original article is here.

 

Wer ist der lauernde Feind, der Theresa May zur Gefahr werden könnte? Es sind zwei: die eigene Partei und die schmale Basis von nur 17 Sitzen Mehrheit im Unterhaus. Damit auf den “Moment von enormer nationaler Signifikanz” zuzusteuern, wie Frau May die kommenden Brexit-Verhandlungen bezeichnete, wäre zu riskant. Sie denkt an 1992ff, als John Major im Kampf um den Maastricht-Vertrag mit den Hardlinern in den eigenen Reihen im Clinch lag und eine Nachwahl nach der anderen verlor, bis seine knappe Unterhaus-Mehrheit verbraucht war und er als Minderheitsregierung in die Wahl von 1997 gehen musste.

 

Noch herrscht trügerische Ruhe unter den Vertretern eines “hard Brexit”, aber das wird sich ändern, sobald ruchbar wird, welche Konzessionen die Premierministerin im Verlauf der Verhandlungen mit Brüssel zu machen bereit sein wird. Denn sie geht nicht auf einen harten, nicht auf einen weichen Brexit zu, sondern auf einen realistischen, und das kann Konditionen einschließen zum fortgesetzten Zugang zum Binnenmarkt, und sei es die fortgesetzte Freiheit von EU-Bürgern, auf die Insel zu kommen.

 

Den Streit, der dann losbricht im eigenen Lager, muss sie mit den Waffen einer größeren Mehrheit als den heutigen 17 Sitzen führen können. Man stelle sich vor, 2019 zeigten sich die Umrisse des ausgehandelten Trennungsvertrages mit der EU, aber die Unterhauswahl müsste 2020 noch stattfinden – nicht auszudenken, mit welchen Waffen die Skeptiker ihr in die Parade fahren und das voraussichtliche Verhandlungsergebnis zu torpedieren versuchen würden.

 

Die Wahl am 8. Juni dagegen gibt ihr ein starkes Mandat bis 2022 an die Hand, mit dem sie ihre Handschrift wird durchsetzen können. Denn einiges ist seit dem 23. Juni 2016 durchaus schon passiert, darunter der Dauerdialog mit Brüssel und den Spitzen der EU-Regierungen. Theresa May ist eine Lernende, die von der Geschichte an die Spitze des Brexit geschleudert wurde, den sie im Kampf um das Referendum gar nicht gewollt hatte. Inzwischen weiß sie, wissen auch ihre führenden Berater wie Brexit-Minister David Davis oder Finanzminister Philip Hammond, welche harten Tage auf London zukommen und dass nichts mit dem Triumphalismus des Go-it-alone zu gewinnen ist, wo so viel des britischen Wohlergehens von einem einvernehmlichen Umgang mit Europa abhängt.

 

Großbritannien würde allein ohne EU-Personal schwer in Bedrängnis geraten. 16 Prozent von Forschung und Lehre auf der Insel liegen in den Händen europäischer Wissenschaftler; der Gesundheitsbetrieb müsste ohne europäische Ärzte und Krankenhauspersonal kollabieren, die Bedienung im Restaurationsgewerbe verkümmern. Und wohin mit den 44 Prozent des britischen Exports in die EU ohne den Binnenmarkt? Auch Schottland will bedacht sein: Theresa May möchte nicht in die Geschichte eingehen als die Premierministerin, unter der das Vereinigte Königreich zerbrach.

 

Last but not least gewinnt May durch ein eigenes Mandat neues Ansehen in der EU. Sie wird mit dem Charisma eine starken Führungsfigur besser dastehen als manche ihrer europäischen Pendants – und das wiederum mag die Neigung zu auskömmlichen Verhandlungen mit London, auf der EU-Seite, bestärken. Donald Tusk, der Ratspräsident, kommentierte nach Bekanntgabe des Unerwarteten, des Wahltermins 8. Juni, spontan, auf der Insel führe offenbar Alfred Hitchcock die Brexit-Regie. Durchaus. Nur dass Hitchcock diesmal eben eine Frau ist, die sich die Dramaturgie der Spannung nicht aus der Hand nehmen lässt.

 

 

 

Image: Drop of Light/Shutterstock.com

Categories
Events Uncategorized

The Future of London’s Financial Industry

One of Luther's previous events in London
One of Luther’s previous events in London

 

  • What will be the possible outcome of the negotiations between the UK and the EU?
  • How important is the European Passport for the financial industry
  • What are the consequences of the current market uncertainty for the Financial Industry in London?

 

Date: Thursday 13th October 2016

Venue:
Church House Westminster
Westminster Abbey
Precincts – Dean’s Yard
SW1P 3NZ
London


The British Chamber of Commerce in Germany cordially invites you to its next conference:

THE FUTURE OF LONDON’S FINANCIAL INDUSTRY

While the UK’s EU referendum has created a state of significant uncertainty, businesses operating in and through the UK are questioning how they will be affected by the consequences of this decision.

Among the most exposed to this uncertainty are companies operating in the financial sector – such as banks, insurances and brokers – because their current ability to benefit from the European Passport may be at risk.

At the moment the outcome of the negotiations between the UK and the EU seems to be crucial for the future of London’s financial industry. These negotiations, however, will take at least two years and business decisions will have to be made in between.

Our panellists aim to bring light into the current discussions and dispel false and rash assumptions. The experts of the political and the financial sector will assess the current situation thereby focusing on the cooperation between the financial markets of London and Frankfurt and the future of the European Passport. The aim of the conference is to provide guidance for business decisions that makes strategic planning possible even during the period of negotiations.

PROGRAMME

5:30 pm Registration

6:00 pm Welcome:

  • Andreas Meyer-Schwickerath
    Managing Director, BCCG
  • Frank Neumann
    German Embassy London

6:15 pm Panel discussion:

  • James Sproule
    Chief Economist, Director of Policy, Institute of Directors
  • Paul Farrelly
    MP Chair All-Party, Parliamentary British-German
  • Eric Menges
    CEO, Frankfurt RheinMain GmbH
  • Dr. Jens Zimmermann
    Member of German Parliament, Vice-Chair German-British Parliamentary Group,
  • Diederik Zandstra
    Senior Policy Director, British Bankers’ Association
  • Burkard von Siegfried
    Former General representative the Lloyd’s of London German Office, Of Counsel Luther Law Firm

Moderation: Dr. Hermann J. Knott, LLM
Attorney at Law (New York), Partner Luther Law Firm

Audience Q & As

7:30 pm Drinks Reception and Canapés

To register for this event, please visit the BCCG Events page and complete the online form:

http://www.bccg.de/BCCG_12/Events.html.Termindetail=441

Categories
Uncategorized Views

Is English glory foreign-made?

Credit: Defence Images
Credit: Defence Images

By Bob Bischof

England has without doubt the most expensive and internationally most followed football league in the world. Many Premiership clubs are owned by Americans, Russians, Saudis, Iranians, Thais and Chinese.

The global element shaping the sport in England doesn’t end there: Out of the top 12 clubs in the 2015/16 season, 11 were trained by Italians, Spanish, French, Dutch, a Chilean, a Croat and a German.

In the pool of players signed by all Premiership teams, 59 foreign nationalities are represented, accounting for 67% of all players in the league. Of the remaining 33% — the English players — not even half get to play every weekend.

The English press regularly proudly reports the Barclays Premier League as the richest, best and most successful league in the world.

It also elevates the English team before every international tournament like the World Cup in Brazil in 2014 and the current European championship to semi-favourite status.

Soccer, just like the economy

The English are without doubt the champions in self-promotion. The meeting with reality is quite harsh, though. Consider that Spanish club teams made a clean sweep of trophies in European club competitions this season, with the English clubs all knocked out early.

The early exit of the national team in Brazil in 2014 and now in 2016 against Iceland shows up the fundamental weaknesses of the overall approach.

The sport is played for profit only, with little regard for the development of home grown talent on or off the field. That money-based approach has an obvious impact on the national team, which has underperformed badly yet again.

This soccer saga has all the hallmarks of the overall British economic and political malaise. In politics, the bragging about the greatest league translates into “We are the fifth-largest economy in the world” and “We are the fastest growing country in the G8.”

This self-boosting rhetoric has been peddled by Cameron and Osborne over the last few years and featured hugely in the British press. However, once the pair decided to campaign for remaining in the EU, it came to haunt them.

Harsh economic reality

The two slogans were effectively used by the Leave campaign by simply claiming, “we can stand alone, we don’t need Europe.” Neither Cameron nor Osborne could admit that both claims were untrue for fear of being accused of “talking the country down.”

As David Smith, the Economics Editor of the Sunday Times, pointed out, economic reality is not as kind. The UK, by Purchasing Power Parity (PPP), is the tenth largest economy.

And in the first quarter of 2016, Britain’s economy grew at less than half the pace of the Eurozone – 0.3% versus 0.7%. Moreover, it was forecast to lag behind for the full year without the Brexit disaster.

But not only that – the country’s fiscal deficit is also going up. The current account deficit is at record high with 7% of GDP, this under a presumably strict conservative government.

Private household debt hit a new record way above the pre-crisis level of 2008, with credit card debt rising at double-digit rates. The much talked about National Health Service is under water, to the tune of £2.5b billion.

The underfunded company pension schemes – like those of Tata Steel and BHS – amount to £92 billion, much of that shortfall will have to be covered through the government guarantee scheme.

Public pension deficits look even worse.

Sterling under pressure

All of it is totally unsustainable, even without the shock of Brexit. Theresa May, the leading contender for the prime ministership, announced simultaneously with Chancellor Osborne the abandonment of the fiscal target for this parliament. It makes sense, but doesn’t solve the problem.

Britain’s current account deficit is of particular concern. The trade balance has always been negative, but services made up for the gap in the past.

No longer so. Britain has lived for decades on the proceeds of selling assets to shore up the current account deficit and the exchange rate. Ports, airports, the energy sector, huge numbers of industrial businesses have been sold to foreign investors.

Unsurprisingly, the UK’s once considerable earnings flow from overseas investment has reversed. It means that Sterling would have come under pressure before any Brexit-related effects.

Overseas investment

The car industry, once the perpetual laggard, is now thriving. It is almost completely under foreign ownership and management. These firms have trained their workforce well, for example, by re-introducing German-style apprenticeship systems and taking a long view.

The Brits treat this as a great success story. But working for so many foreign employers has another side to it. There is a deep psychological problem here, too.

Having foreign bosses and even being paid well by them is one thing. Liking that situation is quite another matter altogether.

Accordingly, there is a growing feeling of alienation in the country because of these developments. The migration crises, which made the timing of the referendum so awful, has of course magnified this feeling.

“We want our country back” seems also a cry of despair about what has happened – and blaming others like Brussels was just so easy to exploit by the populists on the right and left.

Need for home-grown talent

What gets lost amidst all this is that what still makes Britain great these days is that it attracts so many skilled professionals in all sorts of fields, not just soccer; however, more home reliance is clearly necessary.

German and many other clubs on the European continent are owned by their members. Of course, German clubs also import players, but they are serious about developing their own young players – always with an eye on the national game, too.

Unless Britain develops more home-grown talent in all walks of life, changes the overall approach from short to long-term thinking and stops kidding, if not deluding itself, it will not succeed — on or off the field.

—— 

This article was reproduced from The Globalist with the permission of the author. The original article is here.

The photo used is courtesy of Defence Images via www.flickr.com, license here.