Germany’s economy is the strongest in the world. Its trade balance — the value of its exports over its imports — is second only to China’s, which is all the more remarkable since Germany is home to just 82 million people. Its 7.5 percent unemployment rate — two percentage points below ours — is lower than at any time since right after reunification. Growth is robust, and real wages are rising.
It’s quite a turnabout for an economy that American and British bankers and economists derided for years as the sick man of Europe. German banks, they insisted, were too cautious and locally focused, while the German economy needed to slim down its manufacturing sector and beef up finance.
Wisely, the Germans declined the advice. Manufacturing still accounts for nearly a quarter of the German economy; it is just 11 percent of the British and U.S. 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.