Germany, it capital Berlin, and neighboring countries
World Factbook as of October 2014: "The German economy - the fifth largest economy in the world in PPP terms and Europe's largest – is a leading exporter of machinery, vehicles, chemicals, and household equipment and benefits from a highly skilled labor force... Low fertility rates and declining net immigration are increasing pressure on the country's social welfare system and necessitate structural reforms... The new German government introduced a minimum wage of $11 per hour to take effect in 2015. Stimulus and stabilization efforts initiated in 2008 and 2009 and tax cuts introduced in Chancellor Angela MERKEL's second term increased Germany's total budget deficit – including federal, state, and municipal – to 4.1% in 2010, but slower spending and higher tax revenues reduced the deficit to 0.8% in 2011 and in 2012 Germany reached a budget surplus of 0.1%."
GDP growth rate history
In 2011, Germany has a standard Value Added Tax of 19%.
March 8, 2013: Germany ranks second (after Switzerland) in competition for tourists. The Global Economic Forum reports that Germany's infrastructure is considered among the best in the world. The country is ranked sixth place in the world for ground transportation infrastructure and seventh for air quality.
Germany balances it budget. In 2012 revenues were equal to expenditures: $1.511 trillion
Wikipedia, 1 Mar 2014: "As in Britain, in Germany, public television stations own a major share of the market. Their programming is funded by a licence fee as well as advertisements on specific hours of the day (20 minutes per day; not after 8 p.m.), except on Sundays and holidays. Private stations are allowed to show up to 12 minutes of ads per hour with a minimum of 20 minutes of programming in between interruptions." In other words, Germans spend less time with television commercials than do people in the United States.
World Factbook 1 Mar 2014 lists a 2011 health expenditure estimate at 11.1% of GDP, compared to 9.3% for Britain and 17.9% for the United States.
Germany has a conservative government that supports national health care and maintains an unemployment benefits system more generous than that offered in the United States.
As of 2004, Germany had a health care plan in which working people paid from 8 to 16% of their wages into the system, while the unemployed and retirees received health care free. Those with incomes who were affluent enough could opt out of the system and avail themselves to private health care.
2010: Part of the credit for Germany's recovery goes to the spending habits of the German people. They did not go into debt to the extent that people in the United States did. Without this debt, German consumers are spending their money.
Germany has maintained its manufacturing base rather than shipping jobs overseas. Germany, according the CIA World Factbook, "is a leading exporter of machinery, vehicles, chemicals, and household equipment and benefits from a highly skilled labor force."
Imports versus exports 2012: Favorable: imports $1.276 trillion, exports $1.492 trillion.
2011: The Germans have been working an average of 10% fewer hours than workers in the United States, but Siemens, the telecommunications giant, has extended the work week from 35 to 40 hours per week.
Germany provides 90% of its food.
Income Distribution – GINI index
Ranks 128th among 140 countries (lower rank number is less equal). More equal than Britain, which ranks 94th. Germany's revenues to GDP ratio is 73.4% compared to 54.8% for Britain.
Military expenditures as a percentage of GDP
Gender Gap: The World Economic Forum lists Germany as ninth in the world in the elimination of a gender gap. This is ahead of the United States, which does not appear among the top ten.
Living in an urban area
2010: 74%. A litle less than France.
Net migration rate
2012; More arriving than leaving. A net gain of 0.71 persons per 1,000 population
2011: More arriving than leaving. A net gain of 0.54 persons per 1,000 population
2005: 15% of Catholics attend mass weekly (New York Times, April 19, 2005).
2011: Germany has stretches of highway with no speed limit. Cars are built for speeds over 100 miles per hour. And they do it with fewer car accident deaths per capita than exist in the United States.
Vitualien Market in the city center is an example of good local government intervention in the a city's economy. It is in an area of expensive real estate, but the city keeps the rents low enough for old-time shops to continue rather than be replaced by fast food franchises.
Pedestrians are around, and a few bicycles and no cars. Rick Steves, the travel guy, says Viktualien Markt is a favorite with locals for fresh produce and friendly service. Says Rick Steves, the PBS travel guy, "The Viktualien Market's beer garden taps you into great budget eating. Stalls sell the best Wurst, sandwiches, produce and more."
East of the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and France. West of Poland and the Czech Republic. North of Austria. Germany has two northern coastlines, one on the North Sea, the other along the Baltic Sea. Together they are 2,389 kilometers (1,493 miles) long. At its widest point east and west, Germany is about 970 kilometers (400 miles). At its widest point north and south, it is 750 kilometers (450 miles). Capital: Berlin.
(As of May 2014) Joachim Gauck, chief of state (president) since 18 March 2012, Independent, former Luthern Pastor and anti-communist civil rights activist in East Germany. Head of government (chancellor), Angela Merkel, since 22 November 2005, Chairwoman of the Christian Democrat Union (center-right).
Official name: Federal Republic of Germany
Germany is a parliamentary democracy with a bicameral legislature. The Bundestag (lower house) is the principal legislative body. Either body can initiate legislation. To become law, most legislation must be approved by both bodies and by the executive branch of government – the prime minister.
Germany is one of the founding members of what is now the European Union.
Big Tent Politics
Germany has twenty-four or more political parties, including the Animal Welfare Party, the German Communist Party, the Green Party, and a party that some call neo-fascist: the NPD (Nationalist Party of Germany). But the logic of politics gives dominance to two political parties: the center-conservative CDU (Christian Democratic Union) and the center-left SPD (Social Democratic Party), historically a moderate socialist party.
In 1949, the constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) abolished the death penalty.
The Federal Republic of Germany has been a member of NATO since May 5, 1955.
1990: The Federal Republic of Germany absorbs what had been East Germany (German Democratic Republic).
In the year 2000, the German government banned corporal punishment in child rearing. (My German-American mother would have been dismayed by such a law.)
August 23, 2010: Germany is getting attention because of its recovery from the recent recession and financial crisis. Germany's economic growth for April, May and June (the 2nd quarter) is 2.2%. This stretched to a performance of one year would be a growth rate of almost 9%. And Germany's unemployment rate continues to decline: to 7.5%, or approximately 7.0 using the US method of measurement. This is more than a point lower than it was a few years ago before the financial crisis.
Part of the credit for Germany's recovery goes to the spending habits of the German people. They did not go into debt to the extent that people in the United States have. German consumers are not paying off personal debt to the extent that people are in the United States. Without this debt, German consumers are spending their money.
German exports are booming again. Germany has maintained its manufacturing base rather than shipping jobs overseas. Germany, according the World Factbook, "is a leading exporter of machinery, vehicles, chemicals, and household equipment and benefits from a highly skilled labor force."
November 24, 2010: In his Washington Post column today, Harold Meyerson writes:
Manufacturing still accounts for nearly a quarter of the German economy; it is just 11% of the British and US economies (one reason the United States and Britain are struggling to boost their exports). Nor have German firms been slashing wages and off-shoring – the American way of keeping competitive – to maintain profits.
One key to Germany's miracle is the mittelstand, as the family-owned small and mid-size manufacturing firms that dominate the economy are known. Last week, I visited AWS Achslagerwerk, a factory of one such firm, in the farmlands of Saxony-Anhalt, about two hours west of Berlin. As in many such companies, this factory turns out specialized products: axle-box housings for Chinese and German high-speed trains, machine tools requiring climate-controlled precision measurement. With annual revenue of 24 million euros, the factory has won a significant share of the world market, though it employs only 175 production workers.
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