Letters to the editor | Edition 16 September 2023

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Germany responds

Your recent analysis of the German economy concluded that Germany could once again be Europe’s sick man (“How the wheels came off”, August 19). I argue that this is not true. In the late 1990s, when The Economist first described Germany this way (“The sick man of the euro”, 5 June 1999), the country was suffering from high unemployment, especially long-term unemployment, low productivity and as that becomes anemic. The labor market was dysfunctional and inefficient. In other words, the problems were endogenous.

The situation today is completely different. With Russia’s aggressive war against Ukraine, Germany has faced a turning point and shock in terms of exogenous trade. The shock has hit Germany harder than any other large country in Western Europe because of its visibility. Gas imports from Russia dropped from over 50% of total gas imports to zero. Energy prices have been rising dramatically for some time. Measured against this historically difficult situation, the German economy has responded well to the shock, thanks to extensive energy savings by businesses and households and thanks to decisive action by the federal government, for example building liquefied natural gas terminals in record time (“Deutschlandgeschwindigkeit“).

In addition, as one of the world’s leading exporting countries, slow growth in some of its major trading partners is having a negative impact on Germany’s economic performance. Most importantly, the coming years will be crucial in the fight against climate change. Germany is moving hundreds of billions of euros of private and public investment to transform its economy into a carbon economy.

We are cutting red tape, speeding up approval procedures and creating a new immigration system. We are strengthening our grids, building hydrogen infrastructure and new hydrogen-ready power plants.

In general, the German government does not ignore “alarm bells”, especially regarding its industrial sector. He recognizes the magnitude of the task and is fully committed to changing the way we do things to be successful. It is quite normal that such a big move comes with some confusion. I am convinced that growth will return soon and that we will benefit greatly from what we have done in the long term. Don’t count Germany out just yet.

Steffen Meyer
Director General
Federal Chancellor

People look at the smoke in the sky burning from a fire surrounding the Ghazipur garbage dump in New Delhi, India, on Monday in 2022.
photo: AP

No urban/rural divide

To say that India can trace its urban centers to Gandhian ideology is to misrepresent Gandhi’s views (“Dirty old cities”, August 19). While Gandhi was indeed concerned about the small towns of India, he clearly mentioned the need for clean, healthy and liveable Indian cities in his writings. In 1938 Gandhi wrote that he did not want “primacy, misery, dirt and dust in India”. Note that there is no mention of “rural” there. It meant the whole of India including urban centers. Indian governments may have misinterpreted Gandhi, but that is not his fault.

Jaydeep Balakrishnan
Associate Dean
College of Business
California State University, Sacramento

Death of Major Peirson, 6 January 1781. Large oil painting executed in 1783 by John Singleton Copley.
photo: Tate Britain

Britain and the slave trade

Reflecting on the past, including Britain’s role in the slave trade and the suppression of the Demerara rebellion (“Two centuries of oblivion”, August 19). And it should certainly be part of the history curriculum in schools. But as Tom Holland used to say in his studies of history, context is everything. To imply that Britain has never dealt with aspects of the past is to ignore those times and periods of history where Britain stood. alone, not only in condemning and abolishing slavery, but sending the Royal Navy out on the high seas to stop it. . William Gladstone, one of Britain’s prime ministers, whose own family profited from slavery in Guyana, said in 1850 that slavery was the “most insidious crime” in history.

Gladstone’s descendants recently issued an apology for slavery. Since the end of slavery and after the Caribbean and African countries became independent, Britain has given billions in development aid to the former colonies. British students could learn more about this history and be proud of it.

Dale Doré

According to a poll you mentioned, 44% of Britons believed that the royal family, “whose ancestors monopolized the early slave trade through the Royal African Company”, should pay reparations. Six members of the royal family were among the first 200 people to take up shares in the company in 1672, with James, Duke of York (later King James II of England and later VII of Scotland) being the shareholder most. However, the majority of shareholders were London merchants, including 15 former or future mayors of the City of London and 25 former or future sheriffs of London. coming

John Locke, who defined the principle of self-ownership and the right to own property, contributed £400 sterling in the first issue of shares and another £200 three years later.

Robert Diamond
Professor of economics
Brock University
St. Catherine, Canada

The destroyed Main Street in Zamalka, a suburb of Damascus that leads to the city center, which has been bombed for weeks.
photo: Getty Images

The British let down

You reassessed Barack Obama’s decision not to strike against the Assad regime in Syria when it used chemical weapons in Ghouta (“Examining America’s Lost Credibility”, August 26). It is worth remembering that President Obama’s decision not to attack the regime was largely a response to the lack of British support. The British government, led by David Cameron, failed to get a motion through Parliament that would have allowed a joint strike with America. Ed Miliband, the leader of the opposition at the time, said there had to be “strong” evidence that Bashar al-Assad was guilty before he took any military action and that the move was defeated. If it had passed, Mr. Obama would certainly have followed it.

Wiktor Moszczynski

Picture showing three disrespectful men, one in an orange t-shirt with beer, one in a green suit and hat with a shotgun and one in a blue swimming suit, hat and goggles.
photo: Nate Kitch

Trying to persuade him

Reading Bagehot’s column on the rise of the leisure lobby (August 12) reminded me of “Miss Sloane”, a political thriller published in 2016. It also relates to the issue of the lobby. This quote from the film highlights the key points: “Lobbying is about perspective. About anticipating your opponent’s moves and planning countermeasures. The winner plans one step ahead of the opposition.”

Louis Tsai
Taipei, Taiwan

Swimming, shooting turkeys and drinking beer may be special interests that benefit from the protection of the leisure lobby, but there is another institution that is a little more important under the same protection or even more: the BBC. As one moderate back Tory BP he was reported to have said: “The Tories will never abolish the BBC– the moment we work with ‘The Archers’ we are all set. “

Ross Cathcart

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