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The Almighty Buck

Journal tomhudson's Journal: Germany exports as much as China 13

What do Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, France, Italy, Japan, Libya, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom all have in common?

The all export more per capita than the US. They all sell things other people want. The "old economy".

Germany, with 1/16th the workers, working shorter work weeks, and more vacation time, sells as much as China

Something to think about?

Germans work many fewer hours than the Chinese (or Americans), and for every German, there's 16 Chinese, so those 16 Chinese are putting in 32 to 45 times the man-hours. So how does Germany, with only 2% to 3% of the work, produce as much to sell to other countries as the most populous country in the world?

Think of it - Germany, with 80 million people, exports more than the US, with almost 4 times as many people. They've got to be doing something right. (US exports per capita $3,374, German exports per capita $14,134, China exports per capita $926).

Shorter work weeks, better benefits, more vacation time, better access to education, better access to health care, a government that is responsive to the needs of the working classes ... all these make for a far better, and far more productive, work environment.

Other countries:

  1. Liechtenstein $109,180
  2. Hong Kong, $45,572
  3. Luxembourg, $28,235
  4. Switzerland, $26,596
  5. Netherlands, $24,857
  6. Belgium $23,486
  7. Norway, $22,690
  8. Denmark $16,503
  9. Austria, $15,406
  10. Germany, $14,134
  11. Sweden, $13,840
  12. Finland, $11,716
  13. Czech Republic, $10,711
  14. Slovakia, $10,118
  15. Canada $9,431
  16. Taiwan $8,843
  17. Hungary, $8,237
  18. South Korea, $7,506
  19. France, $7,222
  20. Australia $7,133
  21. Italy, $6,831
  22. United Kingdom $5,762
  23. Libya $5,230
  24. Spain $4,930
  25. Japan, $4,268
  26. Portugal $4,122
  27. Poland $3,654
  28. United States $3,375
  29. Angola $2,140
  30. Mexico $2,119
  31. China $926

The data were from 2009. While US exports have since increased, the trade deficit is currently running at half a trillion a year ... the most recent monthly deficit in goods was $60 billion ($720 billion a year), offset by a surplus in services.

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Germany exports as much as China

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  • TL;DR, but if it really is true that Germany exports more than China, I'm guessing that:
    1) That's in dollars, not in number of goods?
    And part of the reason they can keep a highly socialist system propped up (if that itself also really is true), I'm guessing might be that:
    2) They focus on producing high-end, high-priced goods?
    3) And they don't have a large, constant influx of economically poor immigrants into their country?

    • Yes' it's in dollars - actual dollars, not "PPP" - "purchasing price parity" dollars.

      They sell a lot to the Chinese.

      Who are you going to get to pick the peaches, lettuce, etc.?

      • Who are you going to get to pick the peaches, lettuce, etc.?

        To answer your question, I think in my country, only immigrants from South America will do it. But that's a distraction from what I was talking about, which is that Germany may have very different circumstances than other countries, and that even if a happy shiny socialist utopia is being maintained there for now, doesn't mean that it could necessarily work elsewhere.

    • Being German, my perspective is a bit different.

      First of all, I have no idea why one would want to express exports in number of goods, because a country exporting screws and fruit would be much better off than a country exporting huge container ships, which is ridiculous. I'd rather question the utility of using a virtual currency like the USD as a measurement, but as the Euro also is virtual (as opposed to having a gold standard or any other *real* value), I'll shrug it off.

      Indeed the main difference betwe

      • First of all, I have no idea why one would want to express exports in number of goods

        To me it's more of an indication of the employment that's involved in producing these exports. Sure, more expensive goods can afford to have more workers working on them, but it only takes so many workers to manufacture something. So "more goods produced -> more people working" is much truer to me than "more expensive goods produced -> more people working".

        I can assure you that we're far from having a socialist system

        • Currently, those on the political Right here say it's a tremendous drain [one of them] on basically what socialism we have here.

          Our (Sweden here) political right pundits try the same line. Problem for them is, it's pretty easy to show them wrong. While we do tend to cuddle immigrants to the point of trying very hard to make them dependant on welfare, most immigrants want to work, and do. They take low-paying jobs, live in the run-down 'burbs and pay their taxes. Since they are not used to welfare from their homelands, most of them are actually pretty cheap, speaking from a strictly national-economic POV. Immigrants help keep minimum

          • I don't know about welfare per se, but poor immigrants are a drain on my country's educational and health care resources. I don't think they take jobs away from Americans, as Americans I think generally wouldn't do those jobs. But they are very low-paying jobs, and our tax system here is highly-skewed and unfair and unwise, where the poor pay nothing in federal income taxes or actually make money on it. If they're not being paid under the table, they pay something towards our two main national retirement pr

            • When they rent, they're the ones paying the municipal taxes, etc. When they buy something, they pay the same sales tax as everyone else. Most of them wouldn't complain about being rich enough to pay half their income in taxes - but the rich don't pay taxes - "that's for little people."


              The rich pay less tax. Then again, they write the rules ...

              • Even at the state level, the poor send in less revenues to governments than higher income earners, because they buy less expensive homes and rent less expensive apartments, and pay consumption taxes on less consumption.

              • Some of the poor pay taxes... it depends on exactly what group we're talking about. People that exist solely off public subsidy (say, getting Section 8, welfare, SNAP, cash assistance, etc) pay no tax since they aren't generating income. They don't pay property tax even if it is part of the rent, since Section 8 is paying their rent, they don't pay income tax because they have no income, etc. Sure, they may "pay" sales tax, but they're doing so with money they received from being on the dole.

                Then you've
  • The linked article has a lot of things wrong, BTW. We only get four weeks of vacation, not six, University isn't free any more for quite some years, and health care also is *far* from being free. In fact, it eats up approx. 20% of my income.

    Also we (Germany) have been the World's #1 exporter for decades, and not "since 2003". Actually we're only going to lose that title this or next year when China will be #1.

    All of these errors and misconceptions are in the first few paragraphs, and frankly I don't feel li

  • I'm surprised that no one's mentioned it until now, but part of the reason is simply down to geography. American companies have a ready made market of 300m people right on their doorstep, so there's less need to export. German companies have to either export, or they're limited to a market of 80 million people. Furthermore, American companies have only two neighbours, so they can either export to Canada or Mexico (which isn't economically viable for many goods), or they need to ship goods long distances. Ge

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