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Made in Germany

Holger Schmieding

Pinstripes off, overalls on! Made in Germany is sending Germany's top economists out into the field to get their hands dirty.

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The experts are finally going to have to put their money where their mouth is. And you get to vote - Who is Germany`s "Economist of the Year"?

Episode 9: Holger Schmieding in a general store in north London

Holger Schmieding, chief European economist at the Bank of America, based in London, enjoys shopping long after he's finished his own work. Schmieding thinks that more flexible opening hours would benefit Germany as well. Small family businesses could set up, people would buy more and boost the economy. Made in Germany sent Schmiedling on a mission: To work in a general store in north London and discover for himself that owners and staff in small stores must be flexible and work hard, not complain about how little time they have for their family. Birgit Maaß joined chmieding on the late shift.

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Five o'clock, and time to call it a day in London's banking quarter of Canary Wharf. But Holger Schmieding, Bank of America's chief economist for Europe, can't go home yet. Taking Britain as his model, he wants to prove his argument that Germany needs to be more flexible. He and colleagues say shop opening hours must be relaxed. But who'd work in the evening, when others are putting their feet up?Today, Holger Schmieding is going to find out first-hand what it's like. After another appointment he's off to work in a store, far from London's gleaming banking district. "I expect to get to know another part of London, and to talk to people that I wouldn't normally meet. And I think people will say it's good that it's possible in Britain to go shopping at any time, day or night."

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Sheikh's supermarket is in the multicultural district of Golders Green. Holger Schmieding is here to make himself useful until closing time at about 11 o'clock. Shop owner Adnan is pleased to get some extra help. "I think that tie will have to go. Take off your blazer. It might be an idea to roll up your sleeves. I don't need to. Because you're the one doing all the hard work", Adnan says. The first task is to make an inventory of magazines and papers. The numbers have to be precise. Check them off ... and make lists. It's child's play for the economist. Pricing goods, dealing with even more figures, requires a high degree of concentration ... it's almost the same as being at the bank.

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Then things get more complicated: Advising a customer. Sheikh specialises in eastern European delicatessen. The shop is still full at eight in the evening. "Does anybody understand Polish?" No, our economist has to pass on this one. It looks like chocolate dessert. But he's more than willing. Even after a long working day, Holger Schmeiding takes the trouble to be friendly to every single customer ... in their own language where possible.

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The boss has another job for him. The floor must be spotless. In a small business, every worker counts, and as boss Adnan can see, our economist carries out even the dirtiest jobs conscientiously. "How's it going over there? Under control, not too difficult for you? I know it is quite a change." -"Actually, everything's under control", Schmieding answers. The shop owner is surprised that Germany has a law regulating shop opening hours. He thinks it's profitable to stay open until eleven at night - and it creates more jobs. "If we were to close at eight o'clock, we would perhaps consider having one shift in the day, whereas now we have two sets of workers coming, for the morning and the evening shift."

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Holger Schmieding feels he's proved his case, but is glad when he's allowed to go home just after ten. He's given some carrot cake as a farewell gift and an invitation to come back and help any time. But just now, our economist is thinking of going home ... after all, it's really quite late.