From Volume 36, Issue 51 of EIR Online, Published Dec. 31, 2009

Global Economic News

Germany's Exports Crash by Historic Magnitudes

Dec. 24 (EIRNS)—This year, the steepest decline in exports since the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany in May 1949 is expected—a collapse of 18-20%! Figures for German exports counted by states for the first three quarters (compared to 2008) illustrate the disaster for 15 out of 16 states: -21.7%.

(The only German state which had a slight uptick of 1% is Hamburg. Irreverent observers have asked, whether the city-state's fathers started to export their famous red light district, the Reeperbahn, back to London—to keep out of the red themselves.)

Lower Saxony suffered most, due to its industrial composition of auto, machine-building, and the chemical industry; its exports collapsed by 27.9%. The situation in the state's metal and electronics industry is extremely worrisome, and industry leaders and trade unions are in intense discussions. Some firms suffered drops in orders by 30% or 40% in 2009. The only buffer to prevent employment from crashing (-5% so far) has been the reduction of labor hours. However, even this has turned out to be too expensive for many firms.

In the other most crucial German states North Rhine-Westphalia, Baden-Württemberg, and Bavaria, which constitute the core of German industrial production and of Mittelstand (small and medium-sized) firms, exports have collapsed by more than 20%. In the smaller states, such as Rhineland-Palatine and Saarland, exports collapsed by 25% each.

And in states where there are no longer any big industrial firms: In Berlin and Mecklenburg-Prepommeria exports went down by 11.4% each; in Brandenburg by 14.3%. It is worthwhile to remember, that Berlin used to have a very large industrial, productive sector, until geopolitically motivated deindustrialization was imposed after reunification.

European Central Bank: Save the Banks, Kill Greece

Dec. 21 (EIRNS)—As Greece's creditor banks continue to drive the country into sovereign default, the European Central Bank (ECB) admitted on Dec. 18 that the EU banks' balance sheets are carrying even more toxic garbage than they had been willing to admit previously.

So who is more bankrupt here: Greece or its creditors?

According to the ECB, there will have to be a total of EU533 billion in write-offs for the period 2007-10, EU65 billion more than their earlier projection. In fact, both numbers are nonsense, since 80-90% of EU bank assets are going to be wiped out by the global financial meltdown.

Undeterred, and following London policies, the ECB on Dec. 16, granted another EU97 billion to 224 banks for 12 months.

ECB vice president Lucas Papademos said that there will be a tough line towards Greece. One of the latest fascist schemes making the rounds, especially in Germany, is that Greece should be granted a bailout loan by the ECB, in exchange for leaving the European Monetary Union (EMU). Greece would then have a domestic currency, but would nevertheless have to pay back its debt in euros—the equivalent of a modern-day Versailles Treaty for Greece.

South Korea Pushes for Full Nuclear Cycle

Dec. 21 (EIRNS)—Returning from the Copenhagen Climate summit, South Korea President Lee Myung-bak announced a push to obtain fully independent atomic energy technologies earlier than the envisioned target year of 2015. "Although we do not currently possess core technologies, [the government] plans to advance the target year of technology independence, which was originally set for 2015, by a few years," said Lee after a meeting with officials on 2010 plans. "Atomic energy is the realistic alternative to reduce carbon emissions, as well as being the most economically eco-friendly project," the President noted.

Under an agreement with the United States which expires in 2012, South Korea does not have full control of its nuclear fuel cycle; specifically, it cannot reprocess used nuclear fuel into new feedstock. Seoul has requested that the new agreement allow for reprocessing, as provided for by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)—a request which President Lee is firmly restating in his statement today.

Korea is the fifth-largest operator of nuclear power in the world, with 20 commercial reactors generating about 40% of its electricity. Nearly 98% of the technologies used for such operations are owned by the country, which is looking to enter the nuclear export market.

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