Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Don't mention the Euro

Despite the successful vote in the German Parliament, some Germans are still peevish about the Greek bailout.
Cabaret artists have been making jokes about wheelbarrows of notes, or telling the one about the German and the Greek who go out to eat, the German choosing the cheapest item on the menu, the Greek gorging on a range of dishes, before the waiter brings the German the bill at the end. The audience doubles over.
But Stephanie Flanders raises a very salient point:
Whenever Germany tells you how much the Greeks are costing them, remember this: German exports to Greece have risen by 133% since the single currency started. Greek exports to Germany have risen by 13%. The resulting trade gap between the two countries is one reason why German banks are now sitting on so much Greek debt.
So maybe this is the time for a lesson in careful diplomacy.


mikeovswinton, puzzled. said...

The figures are interesting Pete, although they do raise a few further ones (like what was the value of the trade figures at the start of the single currency). And their precision (133%, 13%) gives them the ring of authenticity. But given that the two countries use a single currency and given that there are no customs barriers between them how are they measured? A litre of Spezi sold in Swabing must surely now be the same as a litre of Spezi sold in Athens as far as the balance sheets of Messrs Coke und Fanta are concerned? As well as being considerably more pleasant to drink than Rotsina.

The Plump said...

I can't answer your specific questions, but anecdotally you find most of the manufactured consumer goods in the shops are from Germany. German chain stores have opened in Greece, locally these include Praktiker and Lidl. Deutsche Telekom are now majoor shareholders in OTE and Siemens was deeply implicated in a major Greek political corruption scandal.

So Greek 'profligacy' has been a big boost to the German economy and created a profitable export and investment market that they now, curiously, seem keen to finish off.

And though you don't want to believe it, that retsina from Argalasti is good.

teacher dude said...

Oh and don't forget the fact that a number of German corporations, Siemens, Daimler, HDK etc have been charged with bribery in their dealings with Greece. With Corruption, it takes two to tango.

mikeovswinton said...

I was going to note that if any of those German owned shops were Nettos, then you'd be pleased to note that they were now British as ASDA has bought them. And of course that would solve the bribery problem, because British firms don't get involved in such perfidious chicanery, do they? But then I discovered that Netto is Danish. Are we sure that Praktiker is German? I don't recall seeing any of those in the badlands of Rostock last year. They have "Real" hypermarkets there, with Turkish food stalls that do kebabs - including a rather excellent Veggie kebab. They might not go down too well in Pelion, perhaps.

The Plump said...

I have made vegetarian kebabs, though I prefer skewered dead animal washed down with fabulous retsina at only €2 per 1.5 litres.

As for Prakitiker, its HQ is in Kirkel (Saarland) and the store in Volos was the source of my wonderful new chainsaw; a Bosch - made in Germany.

mikeovswinton said...

I doubt your veggie kebab was quite the same as the gemuesetasche. Saarland is a touch off my beaten track. But I also checked the wikipedia page for Praktiker, and they seem to be everywhere in Europe apart from Blighty. I also had a look at Aldi's page. Did you kow that there are actually 2 different Aldi companies - one for the North of Germany and Europe and the other for the South. Spooky.