BerlinGermany is in a strong position to withstand the current economic turmoil in Europe, say four German business experts. But the country could strengthen its economy by incorporating workers who are currently shut out of the labor market and by changing government policy to aid the growth of businesses.
The panelists at the dialogue on “The German Growth Model” at the Global Business Dialogue were sanguine about Germany’s economic prospects should Greece exit the euro zone. “I don’t see that much of an impact,” said Jürgen Friedrich, chief executive of Germany Trade and Invest. “We had a robust recovery from the first fiscal crisis.”
Gabor Steingart, editor-in-chief of the business daily Handelsblatt, concurred. “I think the German growth model is not under pressure, because Germany is doing quite well in this crisis,” he said. “In our day-to-day life, in our businesses, we are quite a bit more successful than ten years ago. So Germany is not feeling the heat of the crisis.”
Stephan Heck, a former board member of Grohe AG and a senior advisor at DZ Equity Partner GmbH, credited the diversity of Germany’s business structures for the country’s economic security. “If you look at the structure of German enterprises, it’s very balanced,” Heck said. “You have the Mittelstand and you have the DAX companies. This is a balance you don’t find in other countries.”
When moderator Todd Benjamin, a former CNN correspondent and anchor, asked the panelists what the consequences would be if the euro vanished altogether, the answer was simple: It won’t happen. “The euro is irreversible,” said Heck. “It’s not possible to return to a stage where we have been ten years ago.” Steingart agreed that “the euro will not go away.”
Still, the German economy faces challenges. According to Frank Riemensperger, the CEO of Accenture Germany, the country is not doing enough to welcome new entrants to the workforce, including women, children of non-academic parents and young talent from abroad. “Our demographics are working against us,” Riemensperger said, referring to Germany’s aging population.