A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘germany

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • 3 Quarks Daily considers quantitative measures of linguistic diversity.
  • Bad Astronomy and the Planetary Society Weblog are both skeptical of the rumours of a 2015 SETI detection, while Marginal Revolution does not reach a conclusion.
  • blogTO shares an image of the condo tower that will rise above the former site of the World’s Biggest Bookstore.
  • Centauri Dreams reports on preliminary discussions of Stardot.
  • Dangerous Minds shares video of a 1982 Depeche Mode performance on Swedish television.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze considers the question of galactic habitability.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog writes about the role of bullying in the enforcement of gender.
  • Language Log notes how bigoted language can infect an AI.
  • The Map Room Blog shares a map charting water flows in Germany.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw considers revelations that Greek statues were painted.
  • Noel Maurer wonders why Peña and Trump re meeting.
  • Window on Eurasia considers the import of the late Soviet “parade of sovereignties”.

[URBAN NOTE] “Would Germany Be Wealthier if Berlin Didn’t Exist?”

Feargus O’Sullivan at CityLab noted a recent study observing that Berlin, unique among major European capitals, is poorer than the national average. This does highlight Berlin’s particular problems, he suggests, but also notes the extent to which Germany outside of its capital is prosperous.

Germany would actually be better off without Berlin. That, at least, might be the skim-read conclusion to be drawn from a challenging new report from Cologne’s Institute of German Economy. The report, released Tuesday, notes that Germany’s per capita GDP would actually be higher if Berlin and its population were removed from national economic figures.

[. . .]

Before we look at why Germany’s figures skew differently, it’s worth looking more fully at the figures the report provides. They don’t, for instance, actually suggest any inherent relation between the size of a capital’s contribution to national GDP and the overall prosperity of a country. Of all capitals surveyed, it’s actually Athens that shows the greatest national dominance. If that city and its habitants were removed from national figures, then Greece’s GDP per capita would drop by 19.9 percent. The Paris region shows similar levels of national contribution: its absence would slash French per capita GDP by 15 percent. In the U.K., no London would mean a drop of 11.2 percent in per capita GDP. A Madrid-free Spain’s per capita GDP would drop by 6 percent, while even Rome—known for playing second fiddle to the economic powerhouse of the North Italian Plain—would cause Italy’s per capita GDP to drop 2.1 percent if it were removed from the country’s economy.

It’s only in Berlin that these figures appear to suggest Germany would actually be better off without it. Removing Berlin and its residents from German economic tallies would, according to the report, actually boost the country’s per capita GDP, albeit by a meager 0.2 percent.

The reasons for this are as distinctive as Berlin’s standalone negative performance. Certainly, a rather sluggish economy doesn’t help. Without its capital status, Berlin might be just another rustbelt city, an ex-industrial metropolis whose swing towards an economy based on the service, technology, tourism and creative sectors has (as so often is the case) failed to fully compensate for the decline of the city’s industrial base. It’s not for nothing that Berlin had until recently a reputation as a cheap place to live. Prices long remained low because jobs were often scarce and wages relatively meager. As of this July, Berlin’s unemployment rate of 9.5 percent was the second highest (after Bremen) of any German federal state. If there is a loser hidden behind Berlin’s relatively poor performance, it’s unemployed, underpaid Berliners who are struggling despite living cheek-by-jowl with the government of Europe’s most powerful country.

Berlin’s unusual performance is still arguably as much an example of the strength of Germany’s regions at the weaknesses of the city itself. While in other countries, capitals suck in all the wealth, talent and investment, Germany remains a mosaic of prosperous cities scattered throughout its territory. Its largest metropolitan area (as opposed to its largest city) is not Berlin but the huge Rhine-Ruhr region, an industrial conurbation that’s home to over 11 million residents. Munich and Hamburg are both major economic and cultural centers with higher median wealth than the capital, while the heart of continental Europe’s finance industry is in Frankfurt. The Federal Constitutional Court is in the modest city of Karlsruhe, while the city with the highest per capita GDP is actually Wolfsburg, home to Volkswagen.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 27, 2016 at 1:47 pm

[NEWS] Some Friday links

  • Bloomberg notes the closure of Poland’s frontier with Kaliningrad, looks at how Google is beating out Facebook in helping India get connected to the Internet, notes British arms makers’ efforts to diversify beyond Europe and examines the United Kingdom’s difficult negotiations to get out of the European Union, looks at the problems of investing in Argentina, looks at the complications of Germany’s clean energy policy, observes that the Israeli government gave the schools of ultra-Orthodox Jews the right not to teach math and English, examines the consequences of terrorism on French politics, and examines at length the plight of South Asian migrant workers in the Gulf dependent on their employers.
  • Bloomberg View notes Donald Trump’s bromance with Putin’s Russia, examines Melania Trump’s potential immigrant problems, and is critical of Thailand’s new anti-democratic constitution.
  • CBC looks at how some video stores in Canada are hanging on.
  • The Inter Press Service notes that the Olympic Games marks the end of a decade of megaprojects in Brazil.
  • MacLean’s approves of the eighth and final book in the Harry Potter series.
  • The National Post reports on a Ukrainian proposal to transform Chernobyl into a solar farm, and examines an abandoned plan to use nuclear weapons to unleash Alberta’s oil sands.
  • Open Democracy looks at the relationship between wealth and femicide in India, fears a possible coup in Ukraine, looks at the new relationship between China and Africa, examines the outsized importance of Corbyn to Britain’s Labour Party, and looks how Armenia’s defeat of Azerbaijan has given its veterans outsized power.
  • Universe Today notes proposals for colonizing Mercury, looks at strong support in Hawaii for a new telescope, and examines the progenitor star of SN 1987A.
  • Wired emphasizes the importance of nuclear weapons and deterrence for Donald Trump, and looks at how many cities around the world have transformed their rivers.

[NEWS] Some Tuesday links

  • Bloomberg looks at the messy process of Brexit and considers possible directions for the ANC after South African local elections are concluded.
  • The Globe and Mail notes the revival of industrial policy in Theresa May’s Britain.
  • The Inter Press Service looks at the lessons Latin America can take from Germany’s transition to renewable energy.
  • National Geographic reports on the discovery of a cache of pre-Second World War Japanese maps of Asia.
  • Open Democracy examines the differences and similarities between Turkey 2016 and Egypt 2013 and calls for a united left in Europe.
  • Wired looks at how Facebook sets the standard for online commerce.

[URBAN NOTE] “Berlin’s Startup Hub Wants to Prove It’s More Than Just a Scene”

Adam Satariano and Stefan Nicola wrote for Bloomberg BusinessWeek about Berlin’s emergence as a startup hub. This is not mentioned in the article, but I wonder how Brexit will help or hinder this.

The Factory would feel pretty much like any big Silicon Valley headquarters, if you couldn’t see the death strip. In the 19th century, this 130,000-square-foot Berlin warehouse held a brewery. In the 20th, it was an air raid shelter, then rested in the shadow of the Berlin Wall. East German watchtower guards gunned down people trying to scramble across the border. (Hence the term “death strip.”) Today the retrofitted space is home to dozens of tech companies, including Uber and Twitter, and is the headquarters of the music streaming service SoundCloud.

Inside, the Factory is packed with all the perks of a Silicon Valley campus: nap rooms, scooters, 3D printing stations. Headphone-wearing millennials hunch over MacBooks or mill around a lounge where guitars hang from the wall near books with titles such as The Lean Startup and The Startup Game. Conference rooms are named for the regulars at Andy Warhol’s Factory. There are 700 people here; in addition to the full-time employees, a lot of individual tech workers pay €50 ($55) a month for access to a common work area.

“It’s a social club for startups,” says Factory co-founder Lukas Kampfmann, 30, wearing a T-shirt bearing the names Steve (as in Jobs), Elon (Musk), Bill (Gates), and Mark (Zuckerberg), printed in the font Helvetica like the familiar Beatles shirt. On the roof of the warehouse, with a clear view of the former death strip, Kampfmann says his community’s emulation of Silicon Valley isn’t an accident. “We admire American movies, culture, fashion, music,” he says, and this is the logical next step.

Across Berlin, young tech workers from throughout Europe are flooding into cafes and rehabbed Soviet-era buildings, drawn to the German capital by the promise of foosball-casual work environments, cheap rent, and an uninhibited party culture. It’s a package deal that can be tough to match elsewhere in Europe. A decade ago there were a few dozen tech startups in Berlin. Now there are 2,500, and the Investitionsbank Berlin, the government’s regional economic development agency, says there are 70 percent more digital jobs there than there were in 2008.

Although a handful of old-school conglomerates such as Siemens and SAP remain Germany’s most visible technology companies, they’re no longer the country’s main draw for aspiring hardware or software developers, says Martin Hellwagner, a 27-year-old coder who moved to Berlin from Austria in early 2014. “I really wanted to work for a startup,” says Hellwagner, who spends 60 hours a week working on Uberchord, a guitar-lessons app. “You have more responsibilities. It’s not just a 9-to-5. You actually change something, and your opinion matters.”

Written by Randy McDonald

July 29, 2016 at 3:16 pm

[NEWS] Some Wednesday links

  • Bloomberg notes concerns over Northern Ireland’s frontiers, looks at how Japanese retailers are hoping to take advantage of Vietnam’s young consumers, examines the desperation of Venezuelans shopping in Colombia, looks at Sri Lankan interest in Chinese investment, suggests oil prices need to stay below 40 dollars US a barrel for Russia to reform, observes that Chinese companies are increasingly reluctant to invest, and suggests Frankfurt will gain after Brexit.
  • Bloomberg View gives advice for the post-Brexit British economy, looks at how Chinese patterns in migration are harming young Chinese, suggests Hillary should follow Russian-Americans in not making much of Putin’s interference, and looks at the Israeli culture wars.
  • CBC considers the decolonization of placenames in the Northwest Territories, notes Canada’s deployment to Latvia was prompted by French domestic security concerns, and looks at an ad promoting the Albertan oil sands that went badly wrong in trying to be anti-homophobic.
  • The Inter Press Service considers the future of Turkey and looks at domestic slavery in Oman.
  • MacLean’s looks at China’s nail house owners, resisting development.
  • The National Post reports from the Colombia-Venezuela border.
  • Open Democracy considers the nature of work culture in the austerity-era United Kingdom, looks at traditions of migration and slavery in northern Ghana, examines European bigotry against eastern Europeans, and examines the plight of sub-Saharan migrants stuck in Morocco.
  • Universe Today notes two nearby potentially habitable rocky worlds, reports that the Moon’s Mare Imbrium may have been result of a hit by a dwarf planet, and reports on Ceres’ lack of large craters.

[URBAN NOTE] Bloomberg View on the cities that will compete with London

Bloomberg View’s Mark Gilbert writes about the advantages, and disadvantages, of London’s different Eurozone competitors for its financial industry. Paris seems to come out broadly in the lead.

Have you heard? The platforms of London’s St. Pancras train station and the departure lounges of its airports are packed with anxious investment bankers, ordered by their employers to relocate following Brexit.

Of course, that isn’t happening at all; the U.K. decision to leave the European Union hasn’t prompted an overnight exodus. But the banks that warned they’d consider moving thousands of staff out of a non-EU Britain are surely assessing “the next two weeks, two months and two years,” as consultancy firm KPMG put it when appointing one of its senior partners to be head of its new Brexit division. “The French government, the German government, a number of governments, are making, if I may call it this way, a case for people to move to their jurisdiction,” UBS Chief Executive Officer Andrea Orcel said on Tuesday. So which competing financial center looks most attractive?

On cost-cutting grounds alone, there are a number of options. London regularly vies with Hong Kong as the most expensive world city for renting office space. It ranks second according to figures compiled by real-estate firm CBRE for the first quarter of this year, with Paris 14th, Dublin at 30th and Frankfurt down at 47th. For a bank seeking a cheap European office, Frankfurt and Luxembourg look the best bets:

For a human resources department seeking the best overall environment for its employees, Frankfurt also looks attractive. In its annual scorecard of cities based on overall quality of life, including considerations such as political stability, economic backdrop, personal freedom and school systems, the consulting firm Mercer ranks the German financial capital as the seventh best place to live. Its 2016 ranking of 230 cities puts Luxembourg 19th and Dublin 33rd[.]

Bankers ordered to relocate can anticipate lower housing costs wherever they end up. For city-center apartments, London is the second most expensive city in Europe after Monaco, with Paris third at almost half the cost, and Luxembourg 10th. Frankfurt and Dublin, though, are even cheaper[.]

Written by Randy McDonald

July 14, 2016 at 7:01 pm