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Germany, USA - '..the problems..'

Posted by ProjectC 
'..the problems plaguing German [will] caus[e] the country to lose ground against international competitors over the long term.'

'Germany's key economic indicators paint a deceptive picture. In 2011, the country posted growth that was larger than any other major economy in the Western world. This year will also most likely be better than what many experts were predicting just a short while ago. Economic analysts are revising their forecasts upwards, and the unemployment rate is declining. Germany's industrial sector serves as a model around the world. Even the US -- once the measure of all things -- now gazes across the Atlantic with envy and admiration.

But the numbers are misleading. A number of underlying weaknesses are becoming entrenched -- and these could quickly put an end to the recent German economic miracle. International economic organizations are warning of disastrous trends, yet Germany's politicians have taken little notice.

..

Too many areas of the German service sector remain hermetically sealed off. This has serious consequences: Prices are usually too high, and the quality of products and services is often lacking. Competition is seen as a threat to everyone who is established in the market -- and wherever competition is stifled, job growth is also stymied.

..

..the problems plaguing Germany's educational sector tend to be treated as a peripheral issue these days, causing the country to lose ground against international competitors over the long term.

- Sven Böll and Christian Reiermann , Slow Pace of Reform Threatens German Prosperity, March 26, 2012


USA - '..a shortage (of workers with the right skills).'

"There's a mismatch between the jobs that are available and the people that we see out there. There is a shortage (of workers with the right skills)."

- Eric Spiegel, the chief executive for Siemens in the US, told the Financial Times in June 2011. (Source, March 21 2012)


Germany Unprepared for Major Nuclear Disaster

'A year after the nuclear catastrophe in Japan, those in charge of managing disasters in Germany have yet to make significant changes at home. Germany's nuclear phase-out and shift in energy sources were indeed a political response to the disaster, a clearer reaction than in any other country. But specialists in the field say no one in the federal government is willing to take on the nine German reactors that will still be in operation for up to a decade, or of fuel elements that still pose a danger at the reactors that have already been shut down.

Passing the Buck

German nuclear plants, of course, are in no danger from tsunamis. But a thousand-year flood could knock out a reactor's cooling system -- a risk dismissed as just as unlikely in Germany as the danger of a massive tsunami was considered in Japan until last year.'

- Germany Unprepared for Major Nuclear Disaster, March 22, 2012


'..the German solar crisis .. The problem has been mismanagement across the industry in Germany.'

'The worst hit in the German solar crisis are companies that made bad business decisions. Most of the companies effected failed to wean themselves from reliance on government subsidies. The companies had all been aware that the market was rapidly changing, but they reacted too late or too slowly. Solar subsidies had been a highly effective political means of promoting the environmentally friendly technology, but in a rapidly maturing market, they are quickly losing their impact.

And the problem isn't the recent cuts to solar subsidies. The problem has been mismanagement across the industry in Germany.

..

This won't mean the instant death of the German industry. Some companies will remain, particularly those that didn't just try to earn easy money through the government subsidies, but instead adapted to industry changes and developed competitive business models. Take Juwi, for example, which develops large solar parks using cheaper modules from US manufacturer First Solar and has also created a secondary business in wind energy. Or project developer Belectric, which is focusing increasingly on marketing its services in foreign markets. And also likely to survive -- at least in the medium-term -- are companies like SolarWorld, which has succeeded in establishing a strong brand whose equipment justifies a premium price -- even if there are few qualitative differences between their products and those of Asian competitors.

In addition, new business areas will be created within the German solar market, particularly in the services sector. These could include companies that maintain solar parks, for example, or direct marketers who help operators of solar plants sell the electricity they produce to energy exchanges.'

- Stefan Schultz, Bankruptcies Have German Solar on the Ropes, April 03, 2012


Context

'..At its heart it is a crisis of the fractionally reserved banking system..'

Bill Moyers - '..crony capitalism.'