Friday, August 8, 2014

Germanization of the US?


The guy is named E.T., sorry Eric T. Hansen, and writes for the German weekly Die Zeit. According to Eric the T. stands for Terrific and this is how he feels and writes. You find an article about the Terrific Eric in the German but not in the English Wikipedia. There you learn that he has studied in Germany and written several books in German. Both books and articles are based on solid research but characterized by satire and absurdities. He is particularly provocative when he holds up the mirror to the Germans.

The European Union and the States are presently working on a trade agreement called Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). There is lots of fear in Germany that we will become Americanized eating chicken imported from the States treated with chlorine instead of European bio (organic) poultry full of salmonella.

Eric however fears that TTIP will result in just the opposite: he advocates the Germanization of the States when he writes in German: We Americans buy any shit of European origin whereas Germany is the hardest market in the world for foreign products. Let me ask here how Eric would call the goods the Americans import from China. Even a baseball cap I bought in the States the other day was labeled Made in China.

Eric keeps on moaning that there are less than 2000 hamburger restaurants in Germany (McDonalds and Burger Kings combined) but there are 3500 China restaurants and 12,000 döner places. KFC only has 120 chain stores. Wendy's, following massive investments in the 1980ies, even withdrew from the German market*.

In Freiburg the downtown Burger King restaurant threw the towel on November 30, 2013. Will the Döner invade the States?
No Whoppers anymore but lots of döner shops
 in Freiburg's Bermuda Triangle near the university(©BZ)
Well, fast food may not be the best parameter to use when describing the mutual commercial interactions. Eric notes with some bitterness that America's biggest publisher Radom House now belongs to the Bertelsmann Group. Is this so terrible considering that the German Gutenberg invented movable type printing? Does Eric not remember the 1970ies when the Japanese bought real estate and firms in the States with their accumulated dollars? And why does he not criticize the Chinese who use their surplus dollars investing them in the States rather than selling all their greenbacks on the money market thus devaluating the anchor currency?

At the end of his article Eric states that America rather is a domestic market with only ten percent of its national output based on export whereas Germany with a small domestic market necessarily is an exporting country where the relevant figure is thirty percent.

*I just read an article that ice sandwiches made in Berlin according to an old US recipe are the latest hit in our capital:

©Die Zeit

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