Thursday, February 24, 2011

Week 3 - Great Decisions- Germany Rising

The third in our Great Decisions series, hosted by the World Affairs Council of West Michigan: Introduced by Ellen Estrada
 Dr.Gunther Hega, Department of Political Science, Western Michigan University, was the speaker. Originally Dr.Jackson Janes had been scheduled to speak, but flight problems due to weather made this impossible. In a greatly appreciated surprise showing, Dr. Hega, who is Dr. Janes friend and colleague, stepped in and offered to give his own lecture. In another bit of serendipity, Dr. Hega’s prepared PowerPoint presentation, is almost identical in content to what was scheduled and is also fittingly titled, ‘Germany Rising’.Dr. Gunther Hega is an Associate Professor, Comparative and European Politics Department of Political Science, Western Michigan University. "I was born in the German Province of Swabia, home of the Poets Schiller and Hoelderlin, on All Saints Day, in the year the Berlin Wall was built.Hega has been with Political Science Department at Western Michigan University since 1994. He got his degree in Germany at Tubingen and his PH.D at washington University. He was honored in 2004 by the Political Science Honor Society for "Outstanding Teaching." Dr. Hega also has a recent Book on "Consensus Democracy", and has written for many journals and publications concerning this field.
Dr. Hega also conducts several research projects in this field .

The lecture Germany Rising is a summary of the recent rise in fortune of Germany.
The world has undergone significant pain in the last three years in conjunction with the housing market derivative crisis in the U.S.
Record setting unemployment, currency devaluation, countries on the brink of bankruptcy in nearly every country in the world, especially those categorized as ‘The West’ have been a long, heartbreaking tale. Germany has been no exception. However, in 2010, something radically changed, it is being hailed as : "Germany's Economic Miracle."  It was a bleak picture for everyone in the EU, Greece and Ireland having fallen hardest,and the 2008-9 economic outlook, (GDP) was -4.7% . Then, in 2010  the same GDP had moved to +3.6%  so, in one year the Deutschland rocketed from 4.7% Shrinking economy to 3.6% Growth.  Coming out of virtual depression,  it is a miracle. with figures now showing unemployment of 7.2 %  and a trade SURPLUS 11.2%.  So, how does one country change from depression to economic Miracle overnight? Dr. Hega has put together a rational explanation. Much has to do with trade with China, much with how they have dealt with their unions.(Contrary to business as usual), In fact the unions have been a central partner in this great comeback. Here is how it works; the government, business and the Unions all sit in on negotiations. There is never a question that employees have a right to get paid, or businesses to make a profit. The stake of the Government is legislated. In this way, no one has had an unfair advantage, which is what gets messy. It was not a matter of getting in to a problem, all currencies are currently anchored to the dollar. When the dollar fell apart everybody did.Germany, however, could respond more quickly, and did. The other thing Germany did was sell technology to make products, instead of products. It gave them an advantage in a down market. This is Hega says "a matter of many small things, that happened over time." The Professor is also quick to point out that it isn't easily mimicked.
I Highly Recommend the video:
Please join us for next week's Great Decisions lecture:Payback Time? The Global Financial Crisis (Panel Discussion)All Star Panel with Jack Lessenbury as Moderator
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