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Made in Germany

Michael Heise

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 4: Michael Heise at the service station:

Most economic analysts see no relief in oil prices in 2006. With a litre of petrol in Germany currently hovering around the 1.20 euro mark, that's bad news for car owners. "Made in Germany" sent Michael Heise, chief economist at the Allianz-Dresdner group, to a service station in Berlin to gauge the mood of German motorists.

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It's a Monday afternoon at Berlin's Tegel airport. Michael Heise travels to the German capital several times a month for meetings in various ministeries and interviews on the economy and the price of oil. But this Monday promises to be very different.

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The Allianz Group's chief economist will be working at a filling station - where car drivers really have to cope with high oil prices.

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How often does Heise check his own oil? "Never! The garage does it:"

Heise says drivers will just have to get used to the high prices: "It's not going to get any cheaper. Prices aren't going to drop much. The only way to save money is to drive less."

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The economist still has work to do inside, refilling the drinks shelves and replacing newspapers. The filling station operater rewards him with a coffee. Heise: "It's not easy working at a filling station."

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And when it comes to his own speciality, other people have plenty to say as well. It seemss everyone's an expert now that oil has become more expensive. Heise says complaining doesn't help, and that it's better to face facts: "Demand remains high, and there are too few sources of oil reserves that can be tapped at present. So the price of oil will remain high. And tax on oil will also stay high. In Germany we have no leeway for cutting prices. So car drivers have to get used to the fact that it'll remain expensive."

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And with those words, Michael Heise comes to the end of his shift. His next appointment at the office awaits him. How did he like getting closer to drivers? "It was a good experience. You can see how highly service is valued. I've also seen that filling stations don't just live from pumping petrol, but from all the other things they sell. It's a business that's constantly moving into new markets.

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