News / Europe

German Growth Offers Lifeline for Euro

Henry Ridgwell
BERLIN — As the music booms from his new range of top-end speakers in the testing suite, Dieter Burmester allows himself a little dance.

From its headquarters in Berlin, the company that bears his name produces audio equipment that retails for many thousands of dollars.  It is found in luxury homes across the world and in Porsche and Bugatti cars.

Last quarter, the German economy showed modest growth amid an ongoing Eurozone crisis that continues to drag down the economies of southern Europe.

So what has been Burmester’s experience of the euro crisis? “What crisis?  Is there a crisis?  In so far as I know, industry is working very well at the moment, we know it from the car builders, we know it from big companies like Siemens or Bayer.  And our own situation is also very nice, we have increased turnover this year,” he said.

Dieter Burmester, founder of Burmester, a company which makes top-end audio systems (Photo H. Ridgwell/VOA)Dieter Burmester, founder of Burmester, a company which makes top-end audio systems (Photo H. Ridgwell/VOA)
x
Dieter Burmester, founder of Burmester, a company which makes top-end audio systems (Photo H. Ridgwell/VOA)
Dieter Burmester, founder of Burmester, a company which makes top-end audio systems (Photo H. Ridgwell/VOA)
Burmester is an example of a German Mittelstand or medium-sized company. It is fully owned by its founder and has only 50 employees; it does not survive on big loans; yet it competes with global giants. Burmester says Germany has the right ingredients.

“I believe to build up such a company is extremely difficult, but in Germany we have a nice situation.  The infrastructure, that we have suppliers, that we have well-educated employees, and very committed employees is a great situation," Burmester said.

The German economy grew by 0.3 percent in the past quarter.  Other Eurozone countries managed stagnation at best, severe contraction at worst.  Analyst Ferdinand Fichtner of the German Institute for Economic Research says Germany’s resilience is rooted in Mittelstand companies.

“They are the backbone of the German economy.  Roughly two-thirds of employment in Germany is in those SME enterprises and what is probably even more important, it’s around 80 percent of industrial trainees that are employed in the Mittelstand,” Fichtner said.

A six-hour high speed train ride from Berlin is Stuttgart - home to Porsche and Mercedes.  The German car-making industry has grown to become the biggest in Europe.
Inside the cars there are many parts supplied by Mittelstand companies, many of them highly innovative in their fields.

The address labels in Burmester’s warehouse indicate a growing source of income: Asia.  German exports to countries outside the EU soared by 20 percent compared with a year earlier.  Exports to fellow eurozone nations fell three-percent.

Economic analyst Ferdinand Fichtner says German exporters have benefited from a weak currency since joining the euro - and that is a good reason to save the currency.

“Looking forward, it would mean the falling apart of the monetary union will make it much harder for the German economy to export, both in terms of competitiveness of prices and in terms of its markets, which will fall apart if the monetary union falls apart,” Fichtner said.

Polls show around half of Germans want to return to the Deutschmark.  Despite the euro crisis, that figure has remained largely unchanged in recent years.

If Germany avoids the recession that is engulfing the rest of the Eurozone, analysts say it will be thanks largely to the Mittelstand companies.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs